Invasion of Ukraine shows artillery still rules the battlefield

Invasion of Ukraine shows artillery still rules the battlefield

The ongoing war in Ukraine is rewriting the playbook on infantry tactics and strategy The conflict is looking increasingly like a paradoxical march, one way into the 21st century and the other way back into the early 20th. Case in point is how, even though advanced weapon systems have been flooding into the theater, the war has become essentially an old-fashioned artillery duel.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, it wasn't unreasonable to expect the war to play out like recent US and NATO military operations, serving as a showcase of modern military technology, strategy, and tactics in action. It was supposed to be high-tech systems of closely coordinated land, sea, and air forces working like a single unit in a war of fast maneuvering and precise strikes.

Months later, the war in Ukraine has collapsed into a scene that wouldn't be out of place during the First World War, but with a surprising 21st century spin. Instead of a battle for air superiority, fast-moving armored columns, precision weapon strikes, and coordinated cyber attacks knocking out vital infrastructure, conflict was soon reduced to a more or less static front with the two sides firing big guns in a fashion that wouldn't have looked out of place in France in 1916.

The dominance of artillery in Ukraine

Artillery was the most powerful weapon for centuries, but the development of the airplane made it obsolete by the end of the Second World War and it was gradually downgraded, especially by the NATO powers and Israel. The new paradigm of war was of highly mobile armor with fighter bombers providing cover and a heavy punch that was fast, long-range, precise, and needed much fewer people to bring to bear.

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