The Pentagon has set up a repair facility to help Ukrainians replace barrels of their Western-made howitzers which suffer from wear and tear due to extensive use, the New York Times has reported.
In its Friday report, the US newspaper wrote that a howitzer's barrel may be 20 feet long and weigh thousands of pounds, which makes its replacement close to impossible on the battlefield.
Such replacements have become “a priority for the Pentagon’s European Command, which has set up a repair facility in Poland,” the New York Times wrote.
“Ukrainian troops fire thousands of explosive shells at Russian targets every day, using high-tech cannons supplied by the United States and its allies,” the newspaper said. “But those weapons are burning out after months of overuse, or being damaged or destroyed in combat, and dozens have been taken off the battlefield for repairs, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.”
According to U.S. defence officials, close to 350 howitzers supplied to Kyiv are out of action at any given time. The effort to repair the weapons in Poland began in recent months. The condition of Ukraine’s weapons is closely monitored by U.S. military officials.
The New York Times reported that the Pentagon has supplied 142 M777 howitzers to Ukraine, enough to outfit about eight battalions. Additionally, the United States has shipped hundreds of thousands of rounds of 155-millimetre ammunition for Ukraine to fire in the largest barrages on the European continent since World War II and has committed to providing nearly a million of the shells in all from its own inventory and private industry. Ukrainian forces have also received 155-millimetre shells from countries other than the United States.
Once the damaged howitzers arrive in Poland, maintenance crews can change out the barrels and make other repairs. The work on the howitzers is overseen by the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, but may soon be handed over to a new command that will focus on training and equipping Ukrainian troops.