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Russia claims combat debut in Ukraine for Koalitsiya SPH

21st July 2022 - 16:45 GMT | by Alex Orlov in Helsinki

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Koalitsiya self-propelled howitzers have reportedly been used in action by Russian forces in Ukraine. (Photo: Russian MoD)

Russian forces have reportedly employed the Koalitsiya SPH in Ukraine. If true, this marks the first combat use of the most modern and sophisticated artillery system in Moscow’s arsenal.

Russian state-run media outlets claimed in early July that 2S35 Koalitsiya 152mm self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) have fired in anger for the first time during the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

No further details or any official statements were provided and the claims are impossible to verify, but it is highly probable that a certain number of Koalitsiya SPHs are active in Ukraine.

In recent months, the pattern of warfare in Ukraine has shifted towards slow attrition in which both sides rely on tube and rocket artillery.

Deploying a modern SPH such as Koalitsiya would therefore be a logical move for the Russian Ground Forces.

Koalitsiya exists in tracked (2S35) and wheeled (2S35-1) variants. The system also includes a 2F66-1 transloader vehicle based on a wheeled Kamaz-6560 chassis.

According to Russian figures, the highly automated transloader can carry more than 90 projectiles and a single SPH can be fully loaded with ammunition in under 15 minutes.

The 2S35 Koalitsiya is armed with a 152mm 2A88 L/52 gun. It carries 60 artillery rounds, has a crew of three and can fire 12-15 rounds per minute at a distance of up to 70km using rocket-assisted projectiles, according to official specifications.

A 2F66-1 transloader vehicle for Koalitsiya with 152mm rounds visible. (Photo: Russian MoD)

A digital fire control system receives external data and performs multiple fire missions in different modes, such as Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact.

The 2S35 variant was designed as a replacement for ageing 2S19 Msta-S SPHs, with the newer system making its public debut in 2015 during the Victory Day parade in Moscow.

In May 2020, the first batch of eight howitzers was handed over to the Central Military District for army trials and evaluation.

In August 2021, the Russian MoD signed a contract with Uraltransmash to procure Koalitsiya, and in January 2022 the MoD announced that the 1st Guards Tank Army of the Western Military District will receive a ‘battalion set’ (or 24 SPHs) in 2022.

Provisional organisational charts seen by Shephard show that a typical 2S35 Koalitsiya-equipped artillery battalion would include three batteries, each comprising two fire platoons with four SPHs.

A provisional organisational chart for a Koalitsiya-equipped battalion. (Image: Russian MoD)

There is no doubt that Koalitsiya offers various advantages over existing SPHs in Russian service; for instance, the MoD claims that a single 2S35-equipped battalion outperforms an equivalent unit using the Msta-S.

If Russian claims are true, Koalitsiya can saturate twice or three times as much ground as Msta-S, can simultaneously perform three or four times as many fire missions, and needs half the time of Msta-S to complete a fire mission.

The new SPH lacks the numbers to influence the outcome of the Russo-Ukrainian War. In this sense, Koalitsiya resembles other new-generation Russian systems such as the BMPT Terminator, T-14 Armata and T-90M.

However, it is still reasonable to expect Moscow to throw other experimental artillery systems — such as the 2S41 Drok, 2S43 Malva and 2S40 Phlox — into battle in the near future.

This article was amended on 22 July to include the Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact capability of Koalitsiya.

Alex Orlov

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Alex Orlov


Alex Orlov is a freelance journalist based in Helsinki.

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