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Ukraine, the West’s testing ground. A great test of equipment and ideas


The war in Ukraine, regardless of its tragic dimension, has become a unique opportunity for the West to test military technology and the concept of its use. This is invaluable knowledge, impossible or very difficult to obtain in peace.

Military aid for Ukraine, flowing from various corners of the world, is of two types. There is no shortage of old, worn-out weapons, the transfer of which to the fighting Ukraine is tantamount to “battle scrapping”, an example of which are the old M113 armored personnel carriers.

This is a profitable procedure for both parties, because from Ukraine’s point of view, old equipment is better than none at all M113 tracked transporter – although outdated and poorly armored – is definitely for soldiers a better option than a civilian pickup truck.

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Donors also benefit because the cost of donating old equipment is sometimes lower than the cost of storage or disposal. A good example is old ammunition transferred to Ukraine or grenade launchers that do not meet modern standards but are still effective in combat, such as Polish RPG-76 Komar.

Testing ground

However, not only old equipment ends up in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers also the latest weapons – weapon models currently produced and developed, possibly older variants of constantly improved weapons, such as Brimstone anti-tank missiles. This is a very valuable gift, but giving it is not just a gesture of support, but a kind of transaction.

He commented on this, among others: quoted by Defense One website Gen. Wiesław Kukuła, from October 10, 2023, Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army.

We have never had such an opportunity to collect information and translate it into practice really quickly.

Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army

AHS Krab – a combat-proven weapon

An example is fate Polish Krab howitzersthe use of which in Ukraine clearly shows how little technical data tables are in assessing the quality of equipment.

Theoretically less modern than German PzH 2000 Polish AHS Krab turned out to be a better weapon: less faulty, compatible with all types of ammunition and better able to withstand intensive use.

Although it is wrong to believe that every modern conflict will look like the one in Ukraine, information about the damage to Krabów is invaluable for Poland. They allow you to modify and better secure this equipment, which can save you in the event of a possible conflict life of Polish soldiers.

Polish advantage: a decade of experience

Another example is the experience with the use of Polish unmanned aerial vehicles, such as: WB Electronics FlyEyewhich in conditions of war with Russia they worked surprisingly well, also compared to Western competitors. The Polish advantage ceases to be surprising when we remember that this equipment exists supplied to Ukraine since 2014.

Its current effectiveness is the result of almost a decade of experience, gathered not only in laboratories and during tests, but also during real combat, where the opponent does not use half-measures, because when trying to disrupt the operation of Polish equipment he is fighting for his life.

The conflict also brings other universal experiences, including: personal equipment of soldiers. Completely different conclusions were brought by asymmetric conflicts, where the intervention forces had not only a technical advantage, but also a perfectly organized system. medical evacuation.

Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine shows that the practice of equipping soldiers with single tourniquets (a type of tourniquet) does not work. When the bloody harvest is mainly taken by artilleryand a quick evacuation is not always possible, it is advisable to provide soldiers with not one, but four tourniquets – one for each limb.

The West is benefiting from Ukraine’s experience

The sum of such seemingly small experiences adds up to be priceless knowledge about the realities of modern, full-scale conflict. But not only Poland draws conclusions from the war in Ukraine. Similar opinions are also expressed by military officials and politicians from Great Britain:

Supporting Ukraine has led to a dramatic increase in the capabilities of the British military. This is due to access to Russian equipment and observation of the fighting. (…) You learn very quickly what works and what doesn’t. The pace of defense innovation in NATO countries is about what you would expect in wartime.

British Secretary of State for the Armed Forces

Noteworthy conclusions include: a partial departure from the concept that has been in force since the beginning of the 21st century, which assumes building an advantage by creating a sophisticated, very effective, but at the same time expensive military equipment.

As Secretary Heappey noted, instead of investing in a few, expensive systems, today’s armies must focus on cheaper weapons that challenge the enemy by sheer number and variety.

British experience also indicates the vulnerability of the logistics system to attacks long-range precision weapons. In practice, this means that camouflaging and hiding the location of fuel depots, weapons warehouses and military equipment is as important as anti-aircraft defense. To quote the British, the Ukrainian lesson for the armed forces can be reduced to the principle: “if they find you, you’re dead“.

Łukasz Michalik, journalist of Wirtualna Polska


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