When the war in Ukraine broke out last year, the US sent an $800 million military aid package that included 18 howitzers. So, what is a howitzer?
Believe it or not, howitzers have been in use since the 16th century, albeit in a different form than today. They’ve been an integral part of the artillery in every major battle of every major war in that time period, so they’re an essential part of recent military history.
If you’re interested in learning more about military weapons, the howitzer is a must. Today, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about this famous weapon. Keep reading and you’ll understand why they’re so important in battle to this day.
What Is a Howitzer?
The term “howitzer” is derived from the Czech word houfnice, with houf roughly translating to “crowd”. In the 1400s, the Czechs used these primitive short-barrelled versions of the howitzer to fire into crowds of infantry and charging cavalry. This was the general purpose of the howitzer up until WWI.
After WWI, the term howitzer shifted to include gun-howitzers, which have longer barrels and shoot at higher trajectories. After WW2, any piece of artillery that utilized indirect fire to attack targets has been broadly referred to as a howitzer.
The US military now defines them as any cannon artillery that can fire at 45-90°. There are various types of howitzers, with the 18 donated to Ukraine being the 155mm M777 variety, which began production in 1987.
Why Do We Use Them?
Of the many types of artillery militaries around the world use, howitzers are much preferred because of their long-range capabilities. When you look at the battles going on in the Donbas region of Ukraine, for instance, the M777 howitzers that were sent over are perfect for the terrain. The US military has also used them to great effect in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
Howitzers are a more flexible piece of artillery than mortars and cannons. They’re able to fire projectiles in a wide range of trajectories up to 14 miles and are capable of launching 4 rounds per minute.
The newer M109 Paladin howitzer is part of the US Army‘s Extended Range Cannon Artillery program. In January of this year, it was reported that the Biden Administration would send 18 of these to Ukraine.
They’ve been able to hit targets up to 43 miles away. They’re self-propelled, unlike the M777s, which require a team of 10 individuals to load and fire.
An Important Piece of Military History
The howitzer is an integral piece of military history and military operations moving forward. They’ve been a massive addition to the Ukrainian army, allowing them to match Russian firepower, destroy tanks, and attack other military targets in key regions.
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