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Ukrainian 2S22 Bohdana Might Have a Mechanized or Even a Fully Automatic Loader, Like in the CAESAR

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The first version (prototype) of the 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled artillery system / Archive photo
The first version (prototype) of the 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled artillery system / Archive photo

The last missing piece that could realize the full potential of 2S22 Bohdana is the automated reloading system, and it seems this howitzer has just got one

Artillery Forces Day in Ukraine has brought another interesting news about the new weapons in service with the Ukrainian Army.

Turns out, besides the unannounced arrival of the M1150 ABV vehicle, the video showing the awarding of prominent artillerymen also features one more piece of new equipment.

Read more: Ukraine's Gun Artillery is Expanding: New Towed Howitzer is in the Making, and 2S22 Bohdana Production will Speed Up
2S22 Bohdana in the background
2S22 Bohdana in the background / Still frame of the video published by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi, dedicated to the Artillery Forces Day

In the background, we can see a 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled howitzer on a wheeled chassis; it looks similar to the version mounted on the Tatra 8x8 truck. But there is a previously unseen mechanism at the breech end of the barrel.

Ukrainian 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled howitzer on 8x8 Tatra
Ukrainian 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled howitzer on 8x8 Tatra / Screenshot credit: 1st Special Purpose Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Defense Express' cautious assumption is that it is an autoloader or at least a mechanized rammer for sending the ammunition into the barrel, discussed earlier. Even such a rammer would accelerate the reloading process and hence the rate of fire. It is actually not so much different from an autoloader of the French CAESAR howitzer.

Nexter CAESAR self-propelled howitzer on Tatra 8x8 / Open source photo

The principle of its operation is relatively simple: a projectile and a propellant charge are placed in two trays, and then automatically sent to the chamber. In this version, the Caesar also has a manipulator that speeds up the projectile's path from the magazine to the breech.

It is extremely important for the 2S22 Bohdana to get automated or mechanized reloading, this utility has been written down in design plans, but never actually implemented in previous versions. For example, there was no reloader on either of the two Bohdanas depicted in the recent photos from the Joint Forces Command.

The social media post from the JF Command said, "Completing a combat mission, even with manual reloading, takes 7–8 minutes at most, then the position is changed, which practically nullifies the enemy's counter-battery efforts."

2S22 Bohdana without any reloading devices
2S22 Bohdana without any reloading devices, fall 2023 / Photo credit: Joint Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Conversely, now this issue might have been resolved and Ukraine's own self-propelled artillery system will receive the last "missing piece:" a mass-produced autoloading mechanism. The artillerymen in the field themselves repeatedly said that lack of autoloader is actually the only thing that makes Bohdana a step behind the French Caesar because other than that the Ukrainian howitzer already features a fairly high degree of automation.

On a side note, the practice-proven combat range of the 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled gun is 42 km with ordinary rounds, i.e. without the use of a rocket-assisted projectile. The developer is the Kramatorsk Heavy Machine Tool Plant, a member of the National Association of Defense Industry Enterprises of Ukraine – NAUDI.

2S22 Bohdana control panel
2S22 Bohdana control panel, fall 2023 / Photo credit: Joint Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Read more: Specifications of Upgraded 2S22 Bohdana Howitzer on 8x8 Tatra Chassis, Ukraine's Own 155mm Artillery