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M777 Artillery Deliveries Should Help Ukraine in the Donbas, Says Official

April 29, 2022 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Shipments of U.S.-made M777 155 mm howitzers continue to arrive in Ukraine, a senior Defense Department official said during a news conference with the press today. 

About 60% of the 90 howitzers planned for delivery are now in Ukraine, the official said, along with 155 mm rounds. 

Marines fire a military weapon.
M777 howitzer
Marines fire an M777 howitzer at Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Photo By: Marine Corps Sgt. Jose E. Guillen
VIRIN: 220429-O-D0439-002C

"We do believe that these howitzers will be … very, very effective in helping [the Ukrainians] in the Donbas fight, which we've already seen, is deeply reliant on long-range fires, specifically artillery by both sides," the official said. 

"We certainly believe that the conditions could be set for a much longer slog here inside the Donbas given both sides' familiarity with the terrain," the official said. "We've described it as a potential knife fight, and I think it's beginning to shape up to be exactly that." 

The reason that it seems that the fighting in the Donbas could go on a long time, the official said, is because the Russians have shorter lines of supply and communications, as well as superior numbers. The Russians are also trying to learn from their previous mistakes and are advancing cautiously. 

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M1A2 Abrams
Multiple M1A2 Abrams assigned to 2nd Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division line up before a demonstration at the Abrams Operation Summit at Bruchierz Range, Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, April 25, 2022.
Photo By: Army National Guard Spc. Hedil Hernández
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Meanwhile, the Ukrainians are putting up stiff and effective resistance as well as employing their own artillery, the official said. 

In the next 24 hours, more than a dozen flights are expected from the United States and that will include more howitzers and 155 mm rounds. 

Other items in this shipment will be Phoenix Ghost Tactical unmanned aerial systems and radars, the official said.  

In the last 24 hours, there have been almost 20 deliveries via airlift from seven nations that have been received in the region at multiple locations. The shipments include mines, small-caliber rounds, 122 mm rockets, helmets and body armor, the official said. 

A map of Ukraine is shown.
Map of Ukraine
Map of Ukraine
Photo By: DOD
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Since Ukrainian forces don't have M777 artillery in their inventory, the U.S. is training Ukrainians on the use of these weapons in undisclosed areas outside of Ukraine, the official said. 

Other U.S. systems the Ukrainians will be trained on include the Phoenix Ghost Tactical UAS and M113 armored personnel carriers, the official said. 

In the past, this official has noted that these are train-the-trainer sessions, which means they take their knowledge back to Ukraine to conduct their own training. 

As for current Russian movements, the official said that the Russians are at least several days behind where they want it to be.  

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Attack Squadron
Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, prepare F/A-18 Hornets to take off from Łask Air Base, Poland, April 27, 2022.
Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Adam Henke
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"We believe that they meant to be much further along in terms of a total encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the east and they have not been able to link north with south. In fact, they're nowhere close to linking north with south as the Ukrainians continue to fight back," the official said. 

"One of the reasons why we think that the Russians are behind schedule [is] because of the Ukrainian resistance," the official said, noting that the U.S. and 40 other nations are helping the Ukrainians continue that defense.