A “spectacular explosion” was captured in a video posted to social media earlier this week by Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons). Recorded in the village of Klishchiivka near Bakhmut, it showed the destruction of a Russian 2S9 Nona 120mm self-propelled mortar that had taken position behind a row of houses.
The Russian vehicle was successfully targeted by troops of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces – the volunteer militia units created during the war in Donbas and which continue to serve on the frontlines.
The caption suggested the unit was the 128th Territorial Defence Brigade, but in fact, the insignia seen overlaid on the video is actually from the 112th Independent Brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces. The confusion could lie in the fact that the 128th Battalion is a unit of the 112th Brigade – and has been fighting in the Donbas region since last summer.
Normally a Kyiv-based formation, the brigade was moved to the east after taking part in the successful defense of the capital, The Times of Israel reported last year.
Klishchiivka, a settlement south of Bakhmut, has been the scene of heavy fighting. Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed in January that its forces had taken control of the village. According to reports, the settlement, which had a pre-war population of around 400, was actually taken by Wagner Group forces and Russian proxy militia based in Donetsk.
As seen in the recent video, there may be little to nothing for the former residents to ever return if and when the fighting ends.
The small community has been all but razed to the ground and continues to take fire. Kremlin and proxy forces are now apparently using the settlement as a forward line to support its assault on Bakhmut.
It appeared that the 2S9 Nona had taken up position behind a ruined house, but was spotted by a Ukrainian drone, which then provided the coordinates to 128th Battalion’s artillery.
The 2S9 Nona in the Crosshairs
Designed as a self-propelled and air-droppable 120mm mortar, the tracked 2S9 Nona entered service with the Soviet Army in 1981 and approximately 1,000 were produced. The vehicle, which was not widely exported, was first employed in combat operations in the Soviet-Afghan War and later was used in the Russo-Georgian War. The platform has also been deployed with Russian units to Syria.
Operated by a crew of four – including a commander, driver/mechanic, gunner, and loader – the 2S9 Nona could be mistaken for a light tank with a welded steel turret located in the middle of the vehicle’s lightly armored hull, which is 15mm maximum. The mobile mortar platform’s interior is separated into a command compartment, a fighting compartment, and an engine compartment.
It is armed with a smoothbore 120mm 2A51 gun that is a hybrid of a mortar and howitzer that has a rate of fire of 10 rpm, an effective range of 8.8 km with conventional rounds, and 12.8 km with extended ordnance. Though resembling a tank, its turret only allows for a limited traverse left and right.
Spectacular explosion included. pic.twitter.com/LLwVjeXwhR
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) April 5, 2023
The 2S9 was mainly used by airborne troops to replace conventional artillery systems, but also to provide a light anti-tank vehicle for those units. Though it was seen as a success in Afghanistan, given how it ended for the one crew in the recent video, it seems to be the wrong tool for the job in Ukraine!
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.