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The 2S3 Akatsiya is a Russian-made 152 mm self-propelled howitzer tracked armored vehicle.
The first two prototypes of the 2S3 were completed by late 1968 and testing continued through to 1969 but problems were encountered with contamination in the turret so an additional four improved systems were built.
The system was accepted for service with the Russian army in December 1971 although production had commenced the previous year.
The 152mm 2S3 Akatsiya is designed to engage enemy personnel in the open and under shelter and to wipe out the adversary’s weapons, military equipment and other targets to the depth of a division limit of advance.
The 2S3 is always in service in the Russian armed forces and is used by several other countries in the world.
Two of these countries are Armenia and Azerbaijan, who both use the weapon system against each other in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The 2S3 Akatsiya is armed with the 2A33 152mm howitzer, which is a modified variant of the D-20 towed howitzer but with a bore evacuator added behind the muzzle brake.
The barrel has a double-baffle muzzle brake, fume extractor and a gun barrel traveling lock. The 2S3 Akatsiya can fire at a rate of 30 rounds in 10 minutes or 75 rounds per hour.
The 2S3 can fire a wide range of ammunition including the HE-FRAG OF-540, which is fitted with an RGM-2 fuze, weighs 43.5 kg, contains 5.76 kg of TNT, has a maximum muzzle velocity of 655 m/s and a maximum range of 18,500 m.
Other types of projectiles fired include BP-540 HEAT-FS (also referred to as HEAT-SS, for spin-stabilised), HE/RAP (High-Explosive Rocket-Assisted Projectile) with a range of 24,000 m, AP-T, illuminating, smoke, incendiary, flechette, scatterable mines (anti-tank and anti-personnel) and the Krasnopol laser-designated projectile covered in the entry for the 152 mm 2S19. The 152 mm gun has an elevation of +60° and depression of -4°.
Driver’s and engine-transmission compartments are located in a front part of a hull, fighting compartment with rotatory turret – in middle and rear parts of the hull. A single door is mounted to the right side of the turret.
The hull bottom carries a turntable mounted on a ball race resting on five rollers. The 152.4 mm L/27 howitzer D-22 (2A33) can be elevated from -4° to +60° with a turret traverse of a full 360°. The all-welded steel hull of the 2S3 provides protection for the crew against the firing of small arms and shell splinters.
The 2S3 has infra-red night vision equipment and an NBC system.
According to Russian sources, the NBC system also keeps the turret clear of fumes when the gun is fired.
An infrared searchlight is mounted to the left of a 7.62 mm machine gun. Earthmoving equipment is attached to the front part of the hull allows the 2S3 to self-dig hull-down protected position. The 2S3 Akatsiya can cross 0.7 m high vertical obstacles, 3.0 m wide trenches, 1.05 m fording depth, and climb 30° gradients. Two vehicles can be transported by the military transport aircraft Antonov An-22.
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