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More on Indirect Fire
The War in Ukraine (2014-2023)
In a comment on Tanks in an Artillery War, reader Jon Doe mentioned a video that showed the use of the main armament on BMP infantry fighting vehicles to bombard a building at a distance of four kilometers. I have yet to find this piece of film. Yet, since reading this comment, I have seen a number of programs in which weapons designed for direct fire were fired in ways consistent with the use of the classic field artillery technique of indirect laying.
To be clear, I have yet to see aiming stakes or any other unmistakable indication of indirect laying. What I have seen, however, is weapons firing from positions bereft the sort of cover that soldiers in the direct fire business customarily employ.
Of course, the shooting in question may have served no purpose beyond the creation of footage to be shown on YouTube, Tic Tok, or Telegram. (If I may be allowed to coin a deliberately anachronistic phrase, such discharges may have been nothing more than “Canon fodder.”)
If, however, the rounds were sent down range in earnest, we may be seeing the start of something new. That is, in a war in which one side enjoys an enormous advantage in field artillery of the traditional sort, the other side will necessarily look for other ways to reply to the (hat tip to Ernst Jünger) storm of steel. If, moreover, the other side has access to an extraordinarily eclectic collection of ordnance, accurate maps, and clever programmers, this response might well resemble the employment of machine guns, anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft guns, and tank guns to supplement conventional field artillery in the great bombardment at the start of Operation Veritable.
As a student of the First World War, I am particularly intrigued by the possibility that Ukrainian forces, which are well supplied with Maxim guns mounted on carriages designed to facilitate indirect fire, might be used to bring fire to bear upon targets invisible to the gunners.