Artillery: Afghan Army Gets Its Guns Off


p> May 16, 2008:  The post 2001 Afghan Army has put into service several dozen artillery weapons over the last three years. These include the  24 U.S. M114 155mm howitzers (donated by Turkey) and several dozen Russian D-30 and M-30 122mm howitzers (left over from past wars).


The D-30 was introduced 40 years ago, as an improved model of a World War II weapon (the M-30). The D-30 is a four ton, towed weapon with a range of 15 kilometers (or more, with special ammo). The 122mm shells weigh about 50 pounds.


The M114s are World War II era weapons, still used by over a dozen countries. The six ton M114 is towed by a truck, has a range of 14.6 kilometers (or more, with special ammo), and can use most ammunition fired by more modern guns. The 155mm shells weigh about 90 pounds.


The D-30 is particularly useful as a direct fire (shooting at something you can see) weapon. Indirect fire (shooting at something you can't  see) requires more training, especially for the specialists who have to do the calculations required to figure out where to point the gun. While there are small computers, and calculator size devices for doing the math, the fire control specialists have to know what they are doing. Errors in this area can have disastrous consequences.


Afghans have been using the M-30 and D-30 122mm guns for over three decades. Most artillery is now assigned to combat brigades as small batteries (usually of three guns). U.S. and NATO smart bombs are preferred for fire support, as they are usually more accurate than artillery, and available anywhere. But there are times when no smart bombs are available, and that's when the artillery comes in handy.