Russian Military Seizes, Teases The US By Flaunting Its M777 A2 Howitzer At Army Forum 2023 In Moscow

In what has been projected as a display of its hard-earned war trophies, Russia is exhibiting an array of NATO-grade equipment captured from Ukraine at the Army Forum 2023. This also includes an M777A2 Lightweight Howitzer that the Russians have restored.

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According to reports, Russians refurbished the Ukrainian M777A2 155mm Lightweight Howitzer displayed during Army-2023. It stated that the Russians hunted and captured the howitzer near Lysychansk in Luhansk during the retreat of the Ukrainian forces last year.

An image published by Sputnik News showed an M777-A2 Lightweight Howitzer on display, among other Western equipment that has been on display at the Forum as war trophies.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) announced on August 15 that the equipment captured during the special military operation in Ukraine was presented in the Patriot Park near Moscow.

“An exhibition of captured weapons and military equipment in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including those supplied by Western countries, has been opened in the Patriot Park near Moscow as part of the Army-2023 International Military-Technical Forum.

The exhibition is open to delegations and forum participants as part of organized groups,” the ministry said in a statement.

As recently noted by EurAsian Times report on the display of NATO war trophies at the Russian Army Forum 2023, the exhibit includes the Swedish CV90-40 infantry fighting vehicle, the American M-113 armored personnel carrier, the Australian Bushmaster armored vehicle, and the French AMX-10RCR wheeled tank.

In addition, the exhibition also includes the AT-105 Saxon armored personnel carrier and, more specifically, the Husky and Mastiff armored vehicles. Military combat vehicles like the upgraded T-72AMT tank, the BTR-3E and BTR-4E armored personnel carriers, the Varta and Kazak armored vehicles, and the Triton armored vehicles are also on display.

However, the reports published earlier this week did not mention that the US-supplied M777A2 155mm Lightweight Howitzer was also on display at Russia’s iconic Army Forum, which is held annually.

The M777A2 was recovered and refurbished by Russian engineers. After restoring it, the Russians have displayed it as a prized possession at its most-watched army exhibition. However, it has come under criticism by pro-Ukrainian military bloggers active on social media.

One user on platform X (previously Twitter) said, “I remember this M777. Russians celebrated so much when they found it destroyed. Wrote an article with excerpts that referenced the incident on Quora [sic]. Ukrainian forces sabotaged it to prevent its capture and use by RuAF during one of the fiercest battles for Lysychansk.”

It was in May 2022 that the RuMoD first announced that Russian strike drones had destroyed Ukrainian military M777 howitzers stationed close to the town of Podgornoye. Several Russian kamikaze drones and Loitering Munitions have since been deployed to attack and obliterate these Howitzers that have been essential in Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

M777 Howitzers
File Image: M777 Howitzer

M777A2 Lightweight Howitzer

While the original M777 Howitzer started making its way to Ukraine early on, it was in July 2022 that reports emerged suggesting that the Ukrainian troops were training on M777A2 towed Howitzers.

The M777 is a light and maneuverable 155mm howitzer built by BAE Systems’ US division with a maximum range of 25 miles. It is the world’s first 155mm howitzer that weighs less than 10,000 lbs (4218 kg), thanks to the employment of new titanium and aluminum alloys. The M777A2 is the more advanced variant of the US-made Howitzer initially delivered to Ukraine.

The transfer of the M777A2 was accompanied by the announcement by the US that it was supplying 1,000 new high-precision 155mm artillery shells to Ukraine that had not been supplied before. Ukrainian forces have since predominantly used 155mm shells to attack Russia along the frontlines.

The significance of this system is that along with typical digital fire control systems, the M777A2 has a digital fire control system with GPS targeting capability.

M777A2 towed 155 mm howitzer (via Twitter)

The more sophisticated cannons of this variant are designed to fire the M982 Excalibur guided projectile, which has extended fins that allow it to change direction while in flight and is, thus, significantly more accurate than conventional artillery shells, especially at long ranges.

The guided round is fired downrange after the troops have entered GPS position data into the gun’s guidance device. More complex salvos can also be programmed. These howitzers can reportedly fire-guided projectiles like the PGK M1156 or the M982 Excalibur.

According to a Dutch-based open intelligence blog tracking equipment loss on either side, Ukraine has so far lost 61 155mm M777A2 Howitzers. There were earlier reports that Russia was able to capture one of these systems that was initially damaged in the attack.

The display of NATO-made equipment has been seen as an attempt at power projection. This is even more pertinent here as the US M777 Howitzers have been shelling Russian sites, and the Ukrainian soldiers were given jammers to take down enemy spy drones.

At the Army Forum 2023 opening ceremony, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, “The West’s widely-advertised technology has turned out to be far from flawless. You can see this by looking at the exposition of captured weapons.”