The Russian military released footage of an 2S4 Tylupan heavy mortar system in action last week, showing it pounding fortified Ukrainian positions with the assistance of a reconnaissance drone.
The Russian military has deployed a range of heavy artillery systems in Donbass against heavily fortified Ukrainian positions, including the 2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled mortar.
The 2S4 Tyulpan is the most powerful self-propelled mortar in the world, featuring a 240 mm caliber barrel capable of firing conventional high explosive rounds weighing between 130 kg and 230 kg, customized laser-guided, armor-piercing, and cluster munitions, and, if necessary, even battlefield tactical nukes.
The Tyulpan was created during the Cold War, as the armies of NATO and the Warsaw Pact faced off against one another in the heart of Central Europe, and was designed to aid the defense of Eastern Europe, and, if necessary, to mount a counteroffensive to drive NATO forces from Germany and out of continental Europe.
America’s experiences in the Second World War and the Cold War were different, with Pentagon planners paying a heavier focus on fighter and long-range bomber systems when it came to operations against enemy forces.
Subsequently, the Pentagon’s inventory of mortar weapons differs from that of modern-day Russia’s.
The US military’s mortars are generally smaller, shorter-ranged systems used by the infantry, such as the M19 light, smooth-bore, muzzle-loading light infantry support mortar, and the M252, a British-designed mortar used for long-range indirect fire (the latter has a range of up to 6 km).
The United States also has over 1,000 Soltam K6 Israeli-designed 120mm mortars in its inventory, with that system capable of firing 14 kg high explosive rounds distances of up to 7.2 km.
Finally, there’s the aforementioned M224 60 mm Lightweight Company Mortar System (LWCMS), which fires 6.5-6.9 kg shells, and with a weight of about 21 kg, can be carried around by individual troops.
Mortars are a type of artillery designed to fire shells at a high-angle trajectory. The weapons can be man-portable and compact, firing small shells, or require the use of a mortar carrier, be it a truck chassis or heavy tracked chassis.
Typically, the larger the mortar’s gun, the longer its effective firing range, and the bigger its explosive ordnance.
While smaller, man-portable mortars like the US M224 have a range of just a few kilometers, the Tyulpan can accurately fire large shells distances between 9.6 km and 20 km.
In that sense, the 2S4 almost transcends the standard definition of a mortar – which generally means short-range fire capability, and approaches ranges more typical of heavy guns and howitzers – whose range varies between 20 and 30 km, and which can lob shells weighing up to several hundred kilograms.
Accounting for their design to fire at long ranges, howitzers have a lower maximum elevation than mortars, typically 70 and 75 degrees.
This trajectory means there is a dangerous dead zone at which howitzers cannot fire, making them vulnerable to enemy attacks if the enemy approaches too close.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2023.