Mobile IDF artillery unit fires a shell 311 (R).
(photo credit: Jerry Lampen / Reuters)
In an effort to improve the use of artillery fire in a future war, the IDF will
hold an exercise on Thursday to test battalion and company commanders’ ability
to detect enemy targets and engage them with artillery firepower.
two-day drill will be held by the 162nd Division, one of the largest formations
in the IDF, which consists of a number of reserves brigades but also the Kfir
and Nahal Infantry Brigades and the 401st Armored Brigade.
drill is the Artillery Corps’s desire to increase its effectiveness in a future
war and become more relevant on the modern battlefield. During the Second
Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, for example, the Artillery Corps fired
177,000 shells into Lebanon without impacting the rate of Hezbollah’s rocket
fire into northern Israel.
“There are two objectives when using artillery
fire,” a senior corps officer explained this week. “One goal is to help forces
maneuver in enemy territory by providing fire support and the second goal is to
try and suppress enemy fire, which was not effective in 2006.”
will test the commanders’ ability to detect enemy targets and then to decide if
and how to activate artillery support in maneuvering nearby or in attempting to
destroy them. During the drill, corps officers will teach the commanders to
differentiate between different artillery shells and to know how to decide which
to use in various combat scenarios.
The drill comes as the Artillery
Corps is considering replacing its aging M109 155mm. self-propelled howitzers
after decades of service. Israel received the American M109 howitzers in
the 1970s and they debuted in the Yom Kippur War.
They have since
undergone a series of upgrades and today are fitted with air purification
systems so crews can continue operating in the event of a chemical or biological
attack, and they have a range of just under 30 kilometers.
to purchase new cannons for the Artillery Corps is part of a larger plan to
upgrade its offensive capabilities that includes the procurement of new
precision rocket and missile systems.
Both systems under consideration
are truck mounted, meaning they have high mobility and can move between
different areas of operations quicker than the M109s. They also have greater
ranges of over 40 km. and possibly most important is the smaller crews
that they require – down from six crew members in the M109 to just two or three.