The Italian-donated M109L howitzers seen a few days ago at the Udine railway station heading to Ukraine are part of a larger batch, La Repubblica reports. According to the newspaper, there are videos indicating that the Italian self-propelled howitzers have been operating on the Ukrainian frontlines for "several weeks" already.
The combined number of those yet on the move and delivered weapons is about twenty, but there will be more: "some sources say the actual number is twice as many: a total of sixty vehicles were already delivered to Kyiv's forces or will arrive in the near future," the media reports.
Read more: Italian M109L Howitzers Were Spotted at the Railway Station, probably Heading to Ukraine (video)
The decision to donate the self-propelled artillery pieces was made by the government of now-former Prime Minister Mario Draghi back in 2022. But before the transfer, the M109L had to be refurbished. The funds for that were provided by the United States.
The Italian Army doesn't use its M109L artillery since it was effectively phased off by the German Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000). The number of systems left in storage in Italy is unknown.
The Italian version of the M109 howitzer is modified to the M109A3 standard but with a domestically made 155mm gun from Otobreda (Oto Melara). The Italian Army declares the following specifications for this howitzer: weight 28 tons, speed: 60 km/h (road), 25 km/h (off-road), firing range 24 to 30 km, operational range 320 km. The Italian gun can support a rate of fire at 4 rpm.
Ukraine already operates M109 donated by various countries, including Norway (in the M109A3GN variant), Latvia (M109A5Oe), and the United Kingdom. The United States also promised to send its modernized M109A6 Paladin howitzers to Ukraine in the January 2023 military aid package. So far, Ukraine reportedly operates around 80 M109s of various modifications given that the 30 new Italian pieces have already been delivered.
Read more: The M109A6 Paladin Self-Propelled Gun From Inside, Its Difference From Previous Modifications