Speaking on changes and continuity for artillery following from the Ukraine War, Oliver Fort, artillery marketing director at KNDS, bore witness to artillery warfare as a war of resources, in an address to the Future Artillery 2024 conference in Paris on 21 May.

Fort emphasised the need for sustainable and cost-effective solutions, discussing the evolution of artillery systems and the importance of optimising ammunition supply and logistics. 

“So it’s a war of resources. That is, for me, the overarching theme. As a war of resources, it’s so explained to us that every little duel is a part of the bigger game, and very often what they consider is that the Western equipment is too expensive compared to the Russian equipment,” said Fort.  

At the conference this year, counter-battery fire and survivability held an unusually prominent position in discussions, reflecting technological and tactical advances spurring the attention, and the reality of a prolonged and highly attritional military conflict on Nato’s Eastern Flank. 

Fort highlights a major advance in the modern state of counter-battery fire; it is no longer directed by counter battery radar, but instead by Uncrewed Arial Vehicles (UAV) or loitering munitions. The prevalence, utility and significance of these systems poses a problem of resources for commanders seeking to neutralise the drones with conventional anti-aircraft and air defence systems. “Whenever you have, for example, the Lancet [UAV], that can you can destroy with a SHORAD missile that cost €1m – while the lancet is €30,000. Yes, you have destroyed the UAV, but in the long-run you may not be able to sustain the war over many years.”

Fort did identify an alternative with a lower cost in resources than anti-aircraft and air defence systems. The use of a decoy, worth €20,000, compares favourably when employed against more expensive drones systems. “We have worked with a company in the Czech Republic that does decoys, and they do decoys that are cheap enough, because they are cheaper than the Lancet. But, I know that there are decoys that are more expensive than the Lancet. Anytime you put [out] a decoy try to make it not more expensive than the enemy ammunition.”