The Ukrainian experience serves as a deadly analogue for what might happen to U.S. artillery should we fight the Russians or a Russian surrogate. New Russian firepower systems now outrange ours by a third or more. They have improved on our steel-rain technology by developing a new generation of bomblet munitions that are filled with thermobaric explosives. These munitions generate an intense blast wave of exploding gases that are far more lethal than conventional explosives. A single volley of Russian thermobaric steel rain delivered by a single heavy-rocket-launcher battalion will annihilate anything within an area of about 350 acres.
Tragically, all of America’s steel-rain munitions — millions of shells and warheads — are gone, intentionally destroyed by the past two administrations in a sacrifice to the gods of political correctness. They agreed to give up all submunition weapons after other nations (which had no steel rain) signed a treaty banning such weapons because they produce too many duds that remain on the battlefield and pose risks to civilians. Russia, China and Israel believed they had real wars to fight and ignored the treaty. As a result, a Russian heavy-rocket-launcher battalion firing steel rain produces a lethal area at least five times greater than a U.S. MLRS battalion firing conventional high-explosive warheads.
The performance of Russian artillery in Ukraine strongly demonstrates that, over the past two decades, the Russians have gotten a technological jump on us. The United States’ strategic drones, the ones that plink terrorists from bases in Nevada, are more advanced than Russia’s. But Russian tactical drones, which spot for artillery, are far superior (and far more numerous) than ours. In 2014, when the Battle of Debaltseve began, the Ukrainians reported that as many as eight Russian tactical drones orbited over their heads at any one time.