After allegedly suffering numerous casualties, Russian forces have deployed units of the self-propelled 2S4 Tyulpan, or Tulip, mortar, also known as the “Sledgehammer,” to Ukraine. The weapon is the world’s largest mortar and is capable of using a nuclear warhead on the battlefield.
The mortar has a 240mm cannon, which is twice the size of the 120mm mortars NATO uses. The gun is carried on its own tracks and has a range of 19 kilometers. It is used to destroy military equipment, strategic positions, and fortifications.
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While the 2S4 Tulip is capable of firing nuclear warheads, it is likely to be limited to firing only “micro-nuclear bombs,” which are designed only to destroy an area the size of a football stadium. In addition to firing tactical nuclear bombs, the 2S4 Tulip is also capable of firing laser-guided, armor-piercing, and prohibited cluster munitions.
A security expert told the Daily Mirror, “It is a massive weapon, devastating when conventional weapons are used, capable of destroying a large area. But it would also make a very large target for Ukrainian artillery and drone crews, who hunt for offensive equipment on a daily basis.”
According to the expert, “The mortar is capable of targeting an out-of-sight target with bombs that would be extremely difficult if not impossible to intercept.”
Ukrainian troops have been targeting the mortar system and have destroyed several of them.
The 2S4 Tulip was originally developed during the Cold War, with an initial order for 3 vehicles being filled in 1969. Two years later, the mortars entered service, and mass production started in 1974. The “Sledgehammer,” was given the NATO designation of M-1975 as the first year that a Western country saw the gun was 1975.
While hundreds were originally produced, it is estimated that Russia only has 40 to 50 that are still operational. However, it is believed that Moscow has as many as 400 units in storage and will be activating additional units to send to Ukraine.
Next month will mark one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and with negotiations stalled, it is unclear when the war in Ukraine will end.
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