On April 18, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced an increase in domestic arms production, including that Ukraine’s defense industry would put out 10 Bohdana self-propelled artillery systems that month alone. This figure is expected to increase going forward, alongside a rise in production of different types of ammunition.

The news makes it timely to look at the Bohdana system in more detail – its origins, characteristics and potential.

Development of the Bohdana 2S22

The development of the Bohdana self-propelled artillery system began in 2016, with the first prototype displayed on Aug. 24, 2018, during the Independence Day parade. In 2019, the system underwent complex state testing and design modifications.

Several challenges delayed its deployment. These included bureaucratic obstacles during testing; a lack of ammunition due to the system using a non-standard caliber for Ukraine; and most production capacity at its developer – the Kramatorsk Heavy Machine Tool Plant – being knocked out by missile attacks when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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In 2022, the Bohdana system underwent a baptism by fire during the Battle of Zmiiny Island where it operated side by side with a French Caesar howitzer for several days. 

Production capacity in 2023 was enough to deliver six such vehicles per month. This has now increased to 10, with the President’s recent announcement indicating that the Bohdana will become a more prominent feature of the battlefield.

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Characteristics of the Bohdana 2S22

The Bohdana was Ukraine’s first indigenous weapon designed for Western, rather than Soviet, calibers. As a result, the Bohdana can use both NATO 155mm rounds and Ukrainian-made ammunition, the production of which is currently increasing. This unification simplifies logistics and eliminates the use of old Soviet 152-mm shells, which are almost completely depleted in both Ukraine and NATO countries.

The 155mm Bohdana gun has a 52-caliber barrel, which is about eight meters long. This length provides good projectile velocity and range.

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Firing conventional high-explosive fragmentation shells, the Bohdana can operate at a range of up to 42 km. However, due to the possibility of using NATO munitions, including active-reactive shells, this figure can be increased to 60 km.

A distinctive feature of the Bohdana is the use of a wheeled chassis – a solution already successfully applied in the world's leading armies. The system is also similar to the French Caesar in terms of its operation and characteristics. In both systems, loading is semi-automatic: the gunners put ammunition into the tray, and the automatic system delivers it to the breech.

The first modifications of the artillery system were fully manual, which limited the rate of fire to three rounds per minute. After the installation of a semi-automatic loader, this figure increased to six, the same as for Caesar. Ukraine plans to further upgrade the loading system to a fully automatic one, which will bring the Bohdana closer to the performance of the world's best wheeled self-propelled gun, the Swedish Archer.

The Bohdana was built on the chassis of the Ukrainian KrAZ truck with a 6x6 wheel configuration. However, the manufacturer offers the option of choosing an alternative chassis: Tatra or MAN. The possibility of mounting the gun on different types of chassis is key to maintaining the pace of its production.

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The Bohdana's wheeled chassis has a number of advantages over the classic tracked chassis used in most Ukrainian self-propelled guns. The wheels allow the system to quickly move to the desired area, fire and change position, minimizing the risk of damage to the installation and personnel.

The fire control system, adapted to dynamic combat operations, allows firing almost immediately after deployment. Loading, aiming and firing can be controlled from the cabin or from a second control station located at the rear of the vehicle.

This concept of combat use will become even more relevant with the transition to fully automatic loading. This will allow the Bohdana to significantly increase the number of shots fired during a given time. The mobility of the wheeled chassis is also a key advantage in modern warfare, where FPV drones are widely used. A maximum speed of 90 km per hour allows for fast and safe movement between positions, minimizing risks to the crew.

Despite its wheeled chassis, the Bohdana does have strong crew protection. The armored hull and glass can withstand a 7.62 mm small arms attack from 30 meters away. The armor also protects the base of the vehicle from mines, grenades and debris, withstanding a mine detonation of up to 6 kg TNT equivalent.

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The wheels of the aerial vehicle are made using RunFlat technology, which allows it to continue driving even with punctured tires, albeit at a slightly slower speed. In the event of non-critical tire damage, an automatic inflation system can be used to maintain the required tire pressure.

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Ukrainian artillerymen have praised the new Bohdana self-propelled artillery system. According to their feedback, it has a high level of automation, excellent cross-country ability and impressive accuracy. As a result, it often takes only two rounds to destroy a target: the first is a test round, and the second hits the target.

Another advantage of the Bohdana is its significantly lower price, which makes it particularly compelling given Ukraine's limited defense budget. It is almost twice as cheap as the French Caesar system - $2.5 million versus about $5 million.

The war in Ukraine has exposed the critical need for Ukraine to develop its own strong defense industry. The country’s dependence on foreign weapons and ammunition makes it vulnerable to external pressure and supply disruptions. This approach will help to diversify risks even if the supply of military aid from other countries declines.

Thanks to the Bohdana system, Ukraine is not only increasing its firepower on the battlefield, but also its independence from political factors that affect the extent of military support from partners.

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