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2A65 Msta-B

152 mm towed howitzer

2A65 Msta-B

At the time of its introduction the Msta-B was as good as existing towed howitzers in NATO armies

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1986
Crew 8 men
Armament
Gun bore 152 mm
Barrel length 54 calibers
Projectile weight 46 kg
Maximum range of fire 28.9 km
Maximum range of fire (HE-FRAG) 24.7 km
Maximum rate of fire 7 - 8 rpm
Sustained rate of fire 1 - 2 rpm
Elevation range - 3.5 to + 70 degrees
Traverse range 50 degrees
Dimensions and weight
Weight 7 t
Length (in travelling order) 12.7 m
Length (in combat order) ?
Mobility
Towing vehicle Ural-4320, KamAZ-6350, MTLB
Road towing speed 80 km/h
Cross-country towing speed 20 km/h
Emplacement 2 - 2.5 minutes
Displacement 2 - 2.5 minutes

 

   As Western artillery systems made huge strides during the 1970s the Soviets immediately launched a new program under a state-run design bureau to reinvent the towed howitzers that were a mainstay for the Red Army for the past 30 years.

   From 1976 until 1985 a fresh design was tweaked until it matched the impressive contenders from the West like the GC-45 and the M198.

   The result was the 2A65 Msta-B that marked the evolutionary high water mark of 152 mm towed howitzers. As a generational improvement over the antiquated D-20 and ML-20 howitzers favoured by Eastern Bloc armies, the Msta-B emphasized ease-of-transport and range. For reasons that have yet to be determined, it was mass-produced together with another cutting-edge towed howitzer, the Giatsint-B. The simultaneous use of either suggests the 2A65 enjoyed better compatibility with its predecessors than the Giatsint.

   On paper it was as good as existing towed howitzers in NATO armies in the final stretch of the Cold War. The 2A65 entered service in 1986. The following year it was designated by Western analysts as the M1987.

  The Msta-B is recognizable for its elongated 54 caliber barrel capped by a monobloc three chamber muzzle brake. The barrel assembly sits underneath two prominent recoil dampers and is fed via an elaborate breechblock. It retains a Soviet-vintage splinter shield with viewing ports for the optical sights used by the crew, who number eight in total.

   Since it follows a conventional howitzer layout, the Msta-Bís operation isnít too complicated and its designers added as many features that improved its handling. Each of its trails are equipped with large spades to better secure the gun before firing. Two pivoting trailing wheels are located near the spades for added mobility. To further stabilize the gun, a large screw jack is located beneath the barrel assemblyís carriage.

   When in transit, the Msta-B is hitched to a 6x6 truck or tracked vehicle like the MT-LB. The width of its wheelbase and overall dimensions allows it to be hauled on paved roads at speeds reaching 80 km/h. Off road, a cautious 20 km/h is applicable.

   The Msta-B can fire the same rounds as the older D-20 and the self-propelled 2S3 Akatsiya. It was also designed for delivering all types of suppressive fire, be it cluster munitions or low yield nuclear warheads. A laser-guided munition, the Krasnopol, was introduced for targeting armoured vehicles and fortifications.

   Accurate production numbers for the Msta-B are unknown and it wasnít exported outside the Soviet Union. An optimistic guesstimate would be less than 2 000 units produced until the 1990s. After the Cold War, however, significant quantities were left behind in newly independent Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.

   The Russian Federation kept several hundred Msta-Bís but aside from an attempt to export an upgraded variant chambered for 155 mm NATO ammunition, production of this towed howitzer has ceased in favour of self-propelled guns like the 2S19 Msta-S. Itís an understandable rationale given the staggering quantities of howitzers, mortars, and rocket launchers the Russian Army is stuck with to this day.

   Whether the Msta-B was used in an active conflict during the 1990s is hard to tell but in a painful twist, the Msta-B enjoyed a resurgence during the 2010s. The conflict in Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists saw the widespread use of the Msta-B by the belligerents from 2014 onward.

   In 2015 batteries of Msta-Bís were delivered to pro-government militias in Syria. The Msta-B proved itself in multiple engagements as a reliable heavy artillery piece superior to the older M-46 130 mm guns favoured by the Assadists.

Variants

 

   M390 is a NATO-compliant 155 mm export version.

   MZ-146-1 Ė An upgraded Msta-B with a NATO-compliant 155 mm gun equipped with a fume extractor. This artillery system was first publicly revealed in 2008. No exports were ever made.

   2S19 Msta-S Ė Introduced in 1989, the 152 mm/L47 barrel assembly of the Msta-B is housed on top of a heavily modified T-72 tank hull. Itís considered one of the worldís best self-propelled guns.

   2S27 Msta-K Ė A truck-mounted howitzer with the barrel assembly of the Msta-B. It is based on an 8x8 truck chassis. There were several different prototypes, however this artillery system never reached production.

   2S35 Koalitsiya-SV Ė A next-generation self-propelled gun based on the 2S19 Msta-S.

 

Miguel Miranda

   Article by MIGUEL MIRANDA

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2A65 Msta-B

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2A65 Msta-B

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2A65 Msta-B

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2A65 Msta-B

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2A65 Msta-B

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2A65 Msta-B

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2A65 Msta-B

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2A65 Msta-B

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