There is a large amount of different types of ammunition available to modern artillery. Below is a general overview of the types of ordnance available.
These types of shells explode either on contact or at a predetermined height above the target. If the shell is carrying sub munitions these are then released.
Ground & Air Burst High Explosive (HE) - The most common type of ordnance that is fired using indirect fire. A shell or rocket will have an amount of high explosive and a fuse that will either detonate upon impact or at a predetermined height above the target. This type of weapon is very destructive to infantry and soft skinned vehicles in the open with no covering terrain. This munition is less effective against armoured targets.
Guided Projectiles (GP) – these weapons are gun launched and fin stabilized with an explosive warhead and intended to engage high priority targets such as tanks and self propelled artillery. They need to be guided on to their targets via some form of designator although some modern weapons are fully autonomous.
Sensor Fused / Smart Munitions (SF/SM) – sub munitions inside the shell are released high over a target area. Once released the munitions deploy a parachute which slows down the descent whilst the on-board sensors search for a target. Once a target has been detected the sub munitions explosive charge is detonated and an explosively formed penetrator is formed that will hit the thinner top armour of armoured vehicles.
The artillery shell ejects its contents from its base with typical payloads including dual and single purpose improved conventional munitions, smoke, and incendiary.
Improved Conventional Munitions (ICM) - are sub munitions that have a single use such as anti-personnel or anti tank bomblets. Artillery delivered mines also fall in to this category.
Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) - is an artillery warhead that is designed to eject sub-munitions at an optimum altitude and distance from the target for dense area coverage. The sub-munitions are designed for both anti-armour and anti-personnel attack.
Smoke Rounds (Smk) - These rounds provide a smoke screen at the target area and are very useful for concealing tactics from the enemy. Base ejected smoke shells are the most common and will provide coloured smoke for a period of time depending on the weather conditions but can be slow to build up an effective smoke screen. White Phosphorus smoke shells will develop a smoke screen at a more rapid rate with an initial explosive effect. Some smoke rounds also have infra red blocking capabilities, where there are a number of hot burning sources scattered from the shell that will interfere with thermal imagers and infra red devices.
The artillery shell instead of ejecting from the rear of the shell the payload is ejected from the nose. Payloads include shrapnel, flechette, star and incendiary rounds.
Shrapnel (S) - can be the debris from the exploding shell or the shell filled with ball bearings or other small pieces of metal that scatter at high velocities. Shrapnel shells are particularly devastating to exposed infantry and unarmoured vehicles.
Flechette (F) – are small darts or rods that are packed in to shells known as “beehive” rounds so named for the very distinctive whistling buzz made by thousands of flechette flying downrange at supersonic speeds they are intended for use against troops in the open.
Star Shells (Ill) - these shells are used as a means of illuminating areas of the battlefield during the hours of darkness, and can also be a means of passing signals to friendly forces.
Incendiary (Fire) – these are shells that upon detonation cause a reaction that will combust. Examples of incendiary weapons are Thermite, Magnesium and White Phosphorus smoke rounds.