Russia is using its S-60 anti-aircraft guns in indirect-fire artillery-like roles on Ukrainian positions and troop concentrations in western Ukraine, Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) publicity videos show.
Ukrainian soldiers gathering near the frontline as a part of its sputtering counteroffensive, along with its posts and positions across Russian-held territory, have come under fire from the weapon.
It is unclear if the guns have been brought out specifically amid Ukraine’s persistent attacks on Russia’s defensive lines. Reports indicate they have been used intermittently since last year and sometimes by Kyiv.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), too, held these guns in its arsenal from the Soviet days, and both countries have installed them on the back of heavy vehicles.
But it does point to Russia generally being better placed with many indigenous weaponry backed by a functioning defense industrial base, while Ukraine’s military factories have been nearly destroyed.
It depends solely on Western arms supplies that include everything from small arms ammunition to heavy weapons, except for a meager air force that it uses sparingly.
#UkraineRussiaWar️️: RuMoD videos from August 22 and October 3 featuring the S-60 anti-aircraft guns used by units of the Western Military District in indirect fire support roles. pic.twitter.com/08049N97C8
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) October 4, 2023
Anti-Aircraft Guns Drop Rounds On Land
A video released by the RuMoD on October 3 showed three crew members hauling up four-round clips of 54-millimeter rounds on the back of a KrRAZ military truck near Kupyansk with a single S-60 mounted.
In a low sunlight time of the day, the crew fires at least 20 rounds from the S-60. The tracer charges can be seen following a parabolic path and descending over the horizon, presumably falling on enemy targets.
That the S-60s are now primarily being used as an artillery weapon is reflected in the RuMoD description of the video, which said, “This artillery battery has neutralized dozens of camouflaged fortified positions. The crews are deployed several times a day, constantly changing firing positions to avoid detection by the enemy.”
It added that “the gun is equipped with a counter-drone system that protects personnel from attacks by enemy drones.” The device, however, is not visible in the video, and it is not clear whether it is a separate platform that uses its own set of hard-kill and soft-kill measures or employs the S-60 itself in shooting down drones.
“But the enemy UAVs themselves did not manage to evade the S-60. The other day, this formation hit a so-called ‘poultry house,’ a building from which AFU servicemen launched kamikaze drones,” the RuMoD release added. The counter-drone system appears to be primarily a detector that identifies nearby UAVs and alerts the crew.
How the S-60 impacts the battlefield is featured in a previous video, the RuMoD, released on August 22. It shows an S-60 mounted atop a multipurpose MT-LB tracked chassis. Four crew members can be seen operating the entire platform after two clips of four rounds are loaded into the breech and two rounds are fired.
Footage from an overhead drone soon shows four self-illuminating rounds descending on a field, causing small explosions. The video alternates between the gun firing and the drone footage of the rounds impacting the open field.
The RuMoD said the gun crew destroyed “a camouflaged AFU stronghold with rapid fire (using) high-explosive and fragmentation ammunition at a distance of up to 6 kilometers.” A UAV crew controls the result of the defeat, it added.
#UkraineRussiaWar️️: RuMoD videos from August 22 and October 3 featuring the S-60 anti-aircraft guns used by units of the Western Military District in indirect fire support roles. pic.twitter.com/bojOz2lp97
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) October 4, 2023
Russia Modernized S-60?
While the S-60s were developed in the 1950s in the then Soviet Union and were used widely among Warsaw Pact nations, the Russians are using a modernized version. This may comprise improved fire control, targeting/sighting systems, and most likely even better-machined rounds with higher-quality propellants.
This combination can increase the range of the rounds from 4 km to 6 km. The RuMoD release for this August 22 video said that Russian units “modernize and improve weapons and military hardware to meet the requirements of modern combat.”
Ukraine, Too, Used S-60 On Russian Tanks & Troops
Ukraine, too, has used S-60 guns against Russia, which mostly came as donations from partner countries like Poland, as a part of the AZP-57 complex, which uses 75 mm rounds.
An October 2022 article revealed how Ukraine’s S-60 guns had forced Russia’s Kamov Ka-52 attack helicopters from firing from a long distance and not from a dangerously close range as it was doing previously.
In Zaporizhzhya at the time, Russian armored and mortar units were constrained from their “brazen” and “audacious” attacks that hit Ukrainian soldiers from open fields for more than “20 minutes.”
However, these guns have not featured frequently in Ukrainian videos lately, suggesting they are being conserved for future offensives or have been destroyed in Russian missile strikes on its ammunition depots.