Italy committed to reinforce Ukraine. On the 2nd of June, at least 25 M109L SP Howitzers were spotted loaded on a train transiting through the Czech Republic on their way to Ukraine. According to various open sources the train already reached Poland. This was the same trainload observed on the 24th of May transiting through Trieste.
In mid-April, another batch of 20 M109L SP Howitzers was spotted transiting through Udine’s train station in Italy heading for Ukraine. According to open sources, in total 60 M109L SP Howitzers were donated so far to Ukraine and are already in the theater of operations or awaiting transport there. Before the transportation of the equipment to Ukraine, the SP Howitzers had undergone a check of their technical condition and an overhaul of some sort. Although, there was some controversy regarding their condition, it is assessed that this was part of a disinformation campaign initiated by several Russian media outlets with the aim to discredit the efforts of Italy in reinforcing Ukraine.
M109L is an Italian modification/upgrade of the American-made M109 SP Howitzer. This Italian upgrade sports longer 39-caliber barrel instead of the normal 23-caliber barrel. Furthermore, a number of modifications were made to accommodate the longer barrel of the M109L SP. It can achieve a maximum range of 30,000 m. It has to be noted that the M109L can use the ammunition which is used by FH70 which was also operated by the Italian Army and this fact results in a large available stock of ammunition. The Ukrainian Army has already performed familiarization training with the M109L as it was evidenced by video footage released in various telegram channels.
The number of M109L SP Howitzers donated so far to Ukraine, can equip 2-3 Artillery Battalions. Their mobility, as well as their effective fire range which can reach 30,000 m, make them suitable to undertake direct support missions for the Ukrainian Tactical Battle Groups which are highly mobile formations.
Initially, Italy had in its arsenal 280 M109L SP Howitzers, and all of them were held in long-term storage. According to open sources, Italy intends to gradually transfer all of its M109L SP Howitzers to Ukraine. However, given the need for technical inspection and maintenance, the deliveries are expected to last several months. It is assessed that Italy will keep supporting the Ukrainian Army in its effort to defeat the Russian aggressor by providing military hardware and ammunition from its military stocks.