The West continues to supply Ukraine with various weapon systems in large quantities in the hopes that they will be able to stem the Russian offensive. But now even Western media are admitting that these weapon systems are often prone to problems.
German artillery pieces have started to break down a month after they were delivered to Ukraine. This was reported by Der Spiegel on Friday. The guns are reportedly having trouble handling the high rate of fire that the Ukrainian military is subjecting them to.
Some of the seven 2000 self-propelled howitzers delivered to Ukraine at the end of June were showing signs of “wear and tear,” the German news site reported, citing anonymous sources. Some of the devices displayed error messages and needed to be repaired.
The German military believes the problems stem from the sheer number of shells fired daily by Ukrainian forces, which damage the howitzer’s loading mechanism. According to the report, 100 rounds per day is considered intensive use, with Ukrainians firing “far more” than that number.
Despite the obvious overload of the German guns, the Kiev forces fired only a fraction of the shells that the Russian military sent in return. Ukrainian officials said earlier this month that their guns were firing 6,000 shells a day, while Russia was firing 20,000. This workload is also not distributed across an equal number of artillery pieces, as Russia deploys 15 pieces for every Ukrainian piece.
As ammunition supplies are running low, Ukraine has also attempted to fire incompatible ammunition from the German howitzers, Spiegel reports. After learning that its guns could not fire high-precision ammunition, the German military sent spare parts to improve the situation, the report says. Berlin is also reportedly working to set up a repair center in Poland to get the howitzers operational again.
The Panzerhaubitze 2000 isn’t the only foreign weapon that seems to be failing on the Ukrainian battlefield. Captured Ukrainian troops have called the Javelin missile launchers – shoulder-launched anti-tank guided missiles sent by both the UK and US – “completely useless” in urban combat. According to reports, the Ukrainian soldiers also have problems with the NLAW anti-tank guided missile “so that it cannot be used”.
The German Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, five of which were delivered to Ukraine, also had compatibility problems with Norwegian ammunition, as Der Spiegel reports. This mixing of weapons systems from different suppliers was described by British and US analysts as a “serious challenge” for Kyiv.