The Ukraine war is heating up as more and more Western and NATO weapons hit the battlefield in an effort to free Kyiv from the Russian threat.
And as each day passes, it seems like both sides are fighting with great intensity – to the point that the threat of the war going nuclear is never far from many analysts minds.
What could happen next? We know social media will always be covering the action.
City Killer Destroyed by Ukraine
Back in March, a video shared by Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) highlighted the destruction of a Russian 2S4 Tyulpan 240mm self-propelled heavy mortar near Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
The Russian vehicle was targeted in an artillery strike by a unit of the Ukrainian 55th Brigade.
At the end of the short clip, the 2S4 Tyulpan appeared to be burning, and it is unlikely any of its crew survived the strike.
The 55th Artillery Brigade was formed in December 1992 and is now one of the oldest serving artillery units in the Ukrainian military.
It is based out of Zaporizhia, and in 2018 received the honorific title “Zaporozhian Sich” – named for the semi-autonomous polity and proto-state of Cossacks that existed in the region between the 16th and 18th centuries.
The brigade is currently reported to operate a squadron of CAESAR self-propelled howitzers that were supplied by France.
The 2S4 Tyulpan 240mm is currently the largest mortar system in use in the world today. Some experts have described them as “city killer” artillery weapons.
It has a range of 9,650 meters using standard high-explosive rounds, and a range of 20,000 meters using extended-range munition.
In addition to the high explosive rounds, the Tyulpan can also fire armor-piercing, laser-guided and cluster munitions, as well as chemical, neutron and tactical nuclear rounds.
The 240mm mortar system is mounted on a modified tracked chassis that was first employed with the SA-4 Ganef 2K1 Krug air defense missile system.
The vehicle is operated by a crew of five, including a driver and commander along with three support troops to operate the mortar.
However, those additional troops are typically carried in a separate armored personnel carrier (APC).
In the video posted back in March, no such APC was present, but the platform appeared to be in its deployed position when it came under fire. It is unclear whether how many Russian soldiers may have near the vehicle during the strike.
Slow Rate of Fire
Due to its size, the Tyulpan takes an experienced crew several minutes to deploy, while it also has a slow rate of fire of only one round per minute. That is due to the large size of the mortar and the weight of its ammunition – 130 kg (290 lb) for standard HE rounds and 228 kg (503 lb) for rocket-assisted HE rounds. Each round can only be loaded via a small crane.
However, despite its slow rate of fire, the weapon is noted for its firepower that can destroy even heavily fortified positions.
The 2S4 Tyulpan – known by NATO as the M-1975 – was first deployed in combat in the Soviet-Afghan War.
It has since seen service in more than a half dozen other conflicts, including the Chechen Wars, while a number of the vehicles have been deployed to aid the Syrian government.
While fewer than a dozen have been in active service since the start of the war in Ukraine a year ago, some 400 have remained in storage.
To date, at least six or more have been destroyed in the fighting – and it is unclear if the Kremlin will press more of the Cold War-era platforms into service.
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 21, 2023
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.