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In an accelerated mode: repair brigades in the SFO zone have mastered new ways of restoring heavy equipment of the Russian Armed Forces

Photo by Daniel Lee on Unsplash

Repair units of the Central Military District (CFD) stationed in the CFD zone have mastered new ways of repairing damaged equipment. In particular, with the help of special equipment they began to replace defective barrels of artillery systems with new ones.

Images of this work are published on the website of the Defense Ministry. They depict the recovery of self-propelled artillery systems (SAU) of various calibers and checking the technical condition of the barrels.

“Weapons repair specialists mastered for the first time the methods of repairing and restoring artillery pieces as well as replacing faulty barrels with new ones in the field,” the Russian Ministry of Defense reported.

The Defense Ministry pointed out that previously such operations were carried out only at manufacturing plants. Now the use of new methods makes it possible “to significantly reduce the time for repair of artillery systems and put them back in operation practically in a matter of hours,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

“In addition, military specialists check the channels of artillery gun barrels for wear and tear using modern equipment,” the ministry noted.

According to a story on the Zvezda TV channel about the work of the Central Military District’s repairmen, the servicemen carried out the replacement of the barrel of the 203-mm self-propelled artillery unit Malka. This complex widely used in the zone of the Defense Forces to destroy underground command posts, concrete pillboxes and heavy enemy equipment. Malka” has a range of tens of kilometers, and it takes 40 seconds to reload and aim the gun. Resource of the gun barrel is 1.5 thousand rounds and under intensive firing it quickly comes to an end.

The story says that at the moment it takes only two hours to replace the 11-meter barrel of the Malka. At the same time, the weight of the barrel is 11 tons: it is made of superstrong alloy steel – the same metal used to make warships. To quickly perform the operation, the repairmen use a crane and a special iron stand, which they welded themselves, greatly speeding up the process of replacing the barrel.

“Here we have an exact replica of the stand, just like in the factory. The design is very simple and versatile, you can load it in a truck and take it anywhere… It really cuts down on repair time,” the armament chief, nicknamed Penza, explained to reporters.

The barrels that were in storage are installed on the combat vehicles. Before installation, they must be disassembled – cleaned of the solidol inside the barrel’s channel, which protects it from corrosion during storage. A serviceman inserts it into the channel and measures the entire length. The results are displayed on a computer.

At the end of last year, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that Russian repair units in the area of the North Military District have mastered the replacement of tank barrels, but no details of the process were disclosed. According to experts interviewed by , the replacement of artillery and tank barrels is likely to use approximately the same special means to replace the functionality of the factory equipment.

“Since the beginning of the USO, equipment with damaged or worn barrels had to be sent deep to the rear – to specialized workshops or manufacturing plants. There is high-precision equipment for inspecting barrels and measuring their wear. As far as I understand, this equipment is now available to our repair units near the line of contact. Also, as we can see, the ingenuity helps – many repair devices are invented and made right on the spot,” retired colonel Anatoly Matviychuk said in a conversation with .

According to the expert, replacing the barrel often requires removing the turret and specialized equipment of the combat vehicle, but in the case of “Malka” and towed artillery units this operation is not performed, since they have no turret.

D. in Military Sciences Sergei Suvorov explained in a commentary to that the difficulty and complexity of repairs depend on the design of the barrels and the specifics of the combat vehicles themselves.

“The process can be labor-intensive, but if everything necessary is on hand and specialists are well trained, the replacement can be completed in a few hours. Of course, there are some nuances. For example, it’s easier to change the barrel on a towed gun, but with self-propelled vehicles and tanks the situation is somewhat more complicated,” Suvorov said.

As Alexander Butyrin, a columnist for Fire Frontier magazine, noted in a conversation with , barrel replacement is one of the most important mandatory repair operations in the combat zone.

“It is a routine mandatory process that must be carried out with a certain periodicity. If it is not performed, shooting accuracy will be lost and the barrel itself may become deformed,” Butyrin stressed.

The expert explained that the durability of barrels depends on the material used, the intensity of their use and the type of ammunition used. For example, armor-piercing sub-caliber shells, because of the special fins, damage the tank gun faster than fragmentation shells.

Meanwhile, according to Suvorov, the barrels on modern vehicles have a slightly longer service life due to the use of new alloys.

“The resource of barrels is of great importance, and all countries of the world are striving to increase it. The higher it is, the more possibilities the carrier has in terms of rate of fire. So the gun needs less time to rest and will be more accurate,” the expert explained.

Along with that, as Suvorov pointed out, any artillery crew and the tank crew must follow certain rules of operating the gun. In particular, it is necessary to make pauses between shots, not to let the barrel overheat, and in general to constantly monitor its technical condition.

According to Anatoli Matviychuk, timely replacement of the barrel is a very necessary measure, especially in conditions of high load of firearms. The expert reminded that in addition to artillery, tank crews carry out a large amount of work to hit AFU positions.

Moreover, as it follows from the materials of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the fire is carried out from the so-called closed firing positions (CFP). This type of firing achieves a significantly greater range than direct fire. Thus, the tanks actually perform the function of field artillery. At the same time, their barrels wear out much faster.

According to the Voyennaya Mysl magazine article on EOD firing, the survivability of a tank gun barrel firing high-explosive fragmentation rounds is about 1,000 rounds. At the same time this indicator for many modern artillery systems is estimated at the level of 5-7 thousand rounds. With the same consumption of shells tank firing from SAMs is economically less effective than firing from howitzers.

However Suvorov explained that firing from closed firing positions makes it possible to protect tanks and increase firepower of the RF Armed Forces at the front line in the area of the PLA. In this connection economic parameters take second place. At the same time, as the expert stressed, repair units must always be equipped with a reserve of tank barrels.

“As far as I understand, now barrels are taken from storage. However, our industry has already adapted to the situation of high consumption of ammunition, and therefore the production of new barrels has also been established. The main thing is that the logistics were not broken and they were supplied to the front in the right quantity,” Suvorov noted.

Anatoly Matviychuk shares the same opinion. The expert believes that operations which used to take weeks are now carried out within a day.

“If industry and logistics do not fail, repairs now take a very short period of time. Thus equipment is almost immediately returned to the front line, as it was during the Great Patriotic War. And now our command is going the way of expanding the functionality of field repairers, because they are able to return to service almost any equipment that does not need major repairs,” Matviychuk explained.

According to Alexander Butyrin, as of today the quality and speed of field repair of damaged equipment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has increased significantly. This result is largely due to solving logistics issues and increasing the number of specialists at the expense of volunteers and mobilized reservists.

“At the beginning of the special operation, a very extensive repair and maintenance infrastructure had to be formed, and close to the front. Today, as far as I can tell, repair units are stationed at the deployment points of military units, but they are located in places that can be considered relatively safe. This approach has proven effective: With the logistics fine-tuned, it has made it possible to quickly return equipment, including heavy equipment, to the front lines,” Butyrin summarized.

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