The American 155-mm M109 self-propelled howitzers are weapons that Ukraine has been asking its Western partners about since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. The name of the most famous of the modifications of this SpH used by the US Army – M109A6 Paladin – is most often mentioned in the media. Finally, in May 2022, Ukraine received the first 109s – 20 units of M109A3GN from Norway.
Belgium also decided to join the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine, and a rather strange story happened here. About the Belgian M109 tells the publication La Dernière Heure.
In 2008, the Belgian Ministry of Defense decided to remove from the inventory 64 M109A4BE anti-aircraft guns. Just before that, howitzers were modernized at public expense. Only in 2015, howitzers were bought by the private company Flanders Technical Supply, and it was a matter of purchasing almost at the price of scrap metal, at $15,000 per unit. In addition, the Ministry of Defense allegedly denied the right to repurchase the howitzers from the very beginning.
Just after the invasion of Ukraine began, the Belgian Ministry of Defense suddenly decided to help our soldiers destroy the ruscists. To do this, they wanted to buy out the M109A4BEs that were still in storage and sell them to Ukraine. But suddenly Flanders Technical Supply requested 10 times more money than it spent on the purchase of SpH in 2015.
All this not-so-transparent story got in the media and, in the end, the Belgian Ministry of Defense and the new owner of the ACS, OIP Land Systems, which received them from Flanders Technical Supply, reached a compromise. The spGH will supply be supplied by the OIP to Ukraine, and the Ministry of Defense seems to have nothing to do with it and is not at all interested in where those damned M109s have gone.
The Minister of Defense of Belgium, Ms. Ludwin Dedonder, assures the parliament and the public that the howitzers are already on their way to Ukraine. But there is still the issue of shells for them, which still needs to be discussed in parliament.
It is currently unknown exactly how many M109A4BEs went to Ukraine, as well as how much these howitzers cost our country. But, given that part of the Belgian M109A4BE seems to have already been bought by Brazil and Indonesia, it is most likely not about 64 units.
ACS M109 entered service with the US Army in 1963, but has been constantly modernized for 60 years. For example, the M109A6 Paladin was purchased by the Pentagon in 1994-1999. The latest M109A7 went into series only in 2013. Unfortunately, the M109A4BE, unlike these modifications, is not compatible with high-precision projectiles M982 Excalibur.
Weight – 27.5 tons
Length – 9.1 m
Width – 3.15 m
Height – 3.25 m
Crew – 4
Shells – separate loading
Caliber – 155 mm
Barrel length – 39 calibers
Maximum rate of fire – 4 shots / minute
Effective range – 21 km (conventional projectiles), 30 km (impulse-reaction projectiles), 40 km (M982 Excalibur)
Secondary armament – .50 M2 machine gun (12.7 mm)
Engine – Detroit Diesel 8V71T
Power – 450 hp (335.56 kW)
Operating range – 350 km
Max speed – 56 km h