Artillery: Russian 2S7 Big Guns


June 7, 2024: Russia and Ukraine both use the same heavy artillery weapon, the 2S7 Pions 203mm (eight inch) self-propelled howitzer, which weighs 51 tons and does not have a turret, but an open deck for the twelve meter long 203mm gun barrel. This cannon fires 103 or 110 kg shells 37.5 kilometers, or 55.5 kilometers using a rocket assisted shell. The longer the range, the less accuracy you get. If you have to hit a small target, like a reinforced concrete fortification, you have to move the tracked S7S tracked vehicle closer to the target. The tracked vehicle has a top speed of 50 kilometers an hour but can move 650 kilometers on roads at a cruising speed of about 40 kilometers an hour. Each 2S7 is accompanied by a support truck which carries four shells and seven of the gun crew. The vehicle carries four shells and it takes minutes for the fourteen man crew to emplace the gun, which includes backing up to plunge steel spikes into the ground to stabilize the 2S7. Additional shells are moved forward on heavy trucks. Russia still, as of 2024, does not use forklifts to load and unload trucks. Russian gun crews have to manually heave these 110 kg shells around.

The 2S7 battery (of four guns) has a command vehicle equipped with GLONASS/GPS (satellite navigation) equipment to determine the precise location of 2S7 firing positions. The GPS location of stationary targets is known but that of mobile military units is constantly changing. The 2S7 shells are designed to destroy fortifications, especially those constructed of reinforced concrete. Military maps are designed so users can easily determine the GPS location of any buildings or stationary military units.

The Pions’ 203mm ammunition is only produced in Russia but the United States still produces ammunition for its M110 203mm gun. While the U.S. stropped using the M110 in 1994, there are still ten other countries, mainly in the Middle East, that still use the M110. These users include Iran, Israel and Turkey. So when Ukraine needed additional ammunition for their 2S7, the Americans sent them M110 shells, which worked in the 2S7.

In Ukraine both sides use the 2S7 and these 2S7s are prime targets for counterbattery fire by artillery, rockets, or air strikes. Russia has several hundred 2S7 in storage. The 2S7 was produced between 1970 and 1990. Russia won’t reveal how many were produced but it could have been as many as a thousand. Russia only has a few hundred left and most of those are still in storage, awaiting refurbishment before being sent to Ukraine. The United States does not have any retired M110 guns to send to Ukraine. Instead the United States sends HIMARS vehicles armed with GLMRS or ATACMS guided missiles. The longer range, more accurate GLMRS missile replaced the M110 203mm cannon.




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