The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which originated from Russia’s offensive actions in February 2022, continues to escalate with full force. Over the course of approximately 1.5 years, this high-intensity warfare has witnessed significant support from Western nations in terms of ammunition and technical assistance provided to Ukraine.

China, a prominent ally of Russia, remained relatively silent regarding the conflict for an extended period. Nevertheless, recent social media images have emerged, suggesting that China has begun supplying ammunition to Russia.

Among the visuals circulating online, an unspecified location depicts a Chinese-manufactured Type-66 howitzer round, measuring 152 millimeters in diameter. Based on the markings observed on the ammunition, it is believed to have been produced in 2018 and allegedly belongs to the Russian military.

While the claim of Chinese ammunition being employed by the Russian army is yet to be substantiated, if proven true, it could indicate either a deficiency in the defense sector’s ability to meet the field’s demands or a depletion of Russian ammunition stocks.

Open sources indicate that both parties in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict consume an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 artillery rounds daily. A significant portion of this artillery ammunition consists of howitzer shells. Furthermore, it is understood that the Russian military employs approximately 60% to 70% of the aforementioned 20,000 to 30,000 artillery rounds.

Despite utilizing fewer artillery ammunition than the Russian army, NATO countries have mobilized in support of Ukraine, which lacks its own production infrastructure. Recognizing the insufficiency of supplied artillery ammunition, NATO countries have instructed their defense industry companies to ramp up production activities.

In contrast, Russia has attempted to manage its ammunition supply using munitions from the Soviet era for an extended period. Additionally, during this timeframe, Russia has procured artillery ammunition of various calibers from Iran.

On the front lines in Ukraine, Russia actively deploys several howitzer models, including the 2C35 Coalition-SV, 2A36 Hyacinth-B, 2A65 Msta-B, 2C3 Acacia, 2C5 Hyacinth-S, and 2C19 Msta-S. These howitzers, ranging from mobile to towed configurations, share a common feature—they employ 152mm ammunition.

On the other hand, apart from the 122mm towed howitzer 2A18 D-30, Russia predominantly employs the aforementioned howitzers against Ukraine. Given Russia’s substantial consumption of 152mm ammunition, it is plausible that they have indeed procured such ammunition from China.

Chinese 152mm artillery ammunition comprises various components, each contributing to the effectiveness of the weapon. Key elements include the projectile, propellant, and primer. The projectile, typically metal and aerodynamically shaped, contains explosives for maximum impact. The propellant is a mixture of fast-burning chemicals that generate gas to propel the projectile from the weapon. The type and quantity of propellant utilized significantly influence the weapon’s range, accuracy, and performance.

The primer, a small and sensitive chemical compound situated at the cartridge base, ignites the propellant upon firing, initiating the chain reaction that propels the projectile. Additionally, 152mm Chinese artillery ammunition may incorporate fuses, tracer elements, and sabot parts, providing features such as timed explosions or trajectory tracking.

The shape of the ammunition plays a vital role in its performance, influencing factors such as accuracy, range, and penetration. Streamlined shapes reduce air resistance and drag, preserving velocity and trajectory, thereby enhancing range and accuracy. Pointed shapes concentrate impact force, improving penetration through hardened targets. Consequently, ammunition shape is critical for combat effectiveness.

Furthermore, ammunition shape affects flight stability. Poorly designed shapes can lead to tumbling or spinning, diminishing accuracy and range. Conversely, well-designed shapes ensure stability and orientation during flight, thereby improving accuracy and range. Stability is particularly crucial for long-range artillery, where minor trajectory deviations can result in targeting errors.

Apart from shape, the weight and balance of the ammunition also significantly impact performance. Well-balanced ammunition maintains stability and orientation during flight, while imbalanced ammunition may cause wobbling or spinning. Heavier ammunition carries more kinetic energy and momentum, enhancing its penetration capabilities. Thus, the shape, weight, and balance collectively determine the performance of ammunition in combat situations.