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Polish Artillerymen Learn to Spread Out Howitzers and Fire Like Ukrainians

Polish gunners practice the use of K9 self-propelled guns taking into account the experience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, March 2024 / Photo credit: Wojsko Polskie, DGRSZ
Polish gunners practice the use of K9 self-propelled guns taking into account the experience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, March 2024 / Photo credit: Wojsko Polskie, DGRSZ
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Ukraine's neighbor interprets and implements the combat experience gained by Ukrainian forces in fighting against the russian invasion

Until now, in all 2 years of russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Polish Army did not mention it was carrying out any elements of combat training based on the experience of the Ukrainian Defense Forces in repelling the russian invaders. That makes all the more interesting to take a look at the drills unfolded on March 27–29, 2024 at the 1st Masurian Artillery Brigade.

According to Polish website Defence24, the Methodical Demonstration Classes on fire control were organized by the Chief of Missile and Artillery Forces Directorate within the IWL DGRSZ — a Polish management body responsible for military training activities. The theme of this exercise was the "Method of utilizing new military equipment as part of an artillery division in combat operations, using the experience of the war in Ukraine."

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Polish artillerymen practice the use of K9 self-propelled guns taking into account the experience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, March 2024 / Defense Express / How Polish Artillerymen Learned to Spread Out Howitzers and Fire Like Ukrainians
Polish artillerymen practice the use of K9 self-propelled guns taking into account the experience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, March 2024 / Photo credit: Wojsko Polskie, DGRSZ

With the mentioned "new equipment" being the Korean K9 Thunder, initially ordered in August 2022, the training was centered around shooting in a "shoot-and-scoot" manner and counter-battery warfare, all aspects characteristic of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Presentation of the first batch of K9PL (K9A1) self-propelled guns for the Polish Army, October 19, 2022 / Defense Express / How Polish Artillerymen Learned to Spread Out Howitzers and Fire Like Ukrainians
Presentation of the first batch of K9PL (K9A1) self-propelled guns for the Polish Army, October 19, 2022 / Photo credit: Hanwha Defense

For starters, the article describes how the crews on K9 howitzers were exercising active maneuvers, constantly changing their location, and coordinated fire in an artillery battery, but it was dispersed across a wide area.

As for the counter-battery training, the Polish artillerymen worked out shooting based on target data provided by the RZRA Liwie radar station and Fly Eye unmanned aerial vehicles.

What's particularly interesting is that within the framework of these drills, the cooperation of artillery forces with units of the Territorial Defense of Poland was practiced, too. In particular, the Territorial Defense soldiers conducted reconnaissance using Fly Eye drones, then uploaded the received data to the Topaz automated combat management system, and based on this information, Polish artillerymen launched strikes onto the identified targets.

Polish artillerymen practice the use of K9 self-propelled guns taking into account the experience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, March 2024 / Defense Express / How Polish Artillerymen Learned to Spread Out Howitzers and Fire Like Ukrainians
Polish artillerymen practice the use of K9 self-propelled guns taking into account the experience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, March 2024 / Photo credit: Wojsko Polskie, DGRSZ

From all of the above, it follows that the Polish army drew the following conclusions from the Ukrainian war experience:

  1. It's necessary to actively maneuver on the battlefield and have the artillery positioned in a scattered manner.
  2. To detect the enemy, all available tools, including drones and counter-battery radars, must be used at the same time.
  3. Close cooperation between different branches of military force is required to speed up the process of defeating a target.

Earlier Defense Express reported on the solution that Polish authorities found so they can detect russian cruise missiles entering their airspace. In that endeavor, they will use fire lookouts and cellphone connection towers, and create a special mobile app. Meanwhile, Estonia decided that the Korean K9 Thunder was inferior to Caesar and opted for the French howitzer, praising its mobility.

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