Russia’s Silent Mortar in Ukraine

Recent video and photos from Ukraine show Russian troops getting to grips with the 2B25 82mm mortar. About 10 months ago, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, The Armourer’s Bench examined the 2B25 in an article/video and how it combines a spigot mortar with ammunition which uses a self-contained captive piston. For a full run down on operation and the mortar’s development history check out that article/video. In this article we will take a look at the mortar’s appearance in Ukraine.

The first mention of the 2B25 being in use with Russian forces in Ukraine dates to early July, when RIA News, a Russian state-owned domestic news agency, published an article with scant detail other than to suggest that “these mortars are used to carry out sudden fire raids, in particular in the fight against saboteurs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” Despite this report we haven’t seen any imagery showing the weapon in theatre until recently.

In late October imagery showing the 2B25 began to be shared by a member of what appears to be a Russian special operations unit which has been in action in the Donetsk Oblast. One of the members of the unit runs a telegram channel. The soldier who runs the channel describes himself as a “regular soldier of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, for more than 10 years.”

On 27 October, a POV video was shared from behind a 2B25, with the caption (machine translated): “We got acquainted with a silent mortar, mastered it ourselves and showed the mobilized guys. A minimum of recoil, a minimum of powder gases and the sound of a round being fired.”

The 8 November saw the unit share a photo of the mortar being fired without its base plate, instead using a wooden box as an ad-hoc base. In the comments section of the image the soldier running the channel says the use of the wooden ammunition box was ‘by design’, perhaps indicating intentional experimentation with using the mortar without its base plate. In another comment he explained: “No…they checked… whether it was possible to shoot without sinking into the ground, as a result, the box fell apart.” In another response he notes that they were trying to avoid placing the base plate in the wet ground. When asked how loud the mortar is the Russian soldier describes it as: “It is silent, the exit of a mine is not louder than a clap of hands”

A photo posted on 26 November showed the Russian soldier with perhaps 10 of the 2B25’s 3VO35 mortar bomb laid out on the ground. On 30 November a clip showing the mortar be prepared alongside a commercial drone was posted, suggesting training to correct fall of shot with drones.

The longest video posted so far shows the mortar in action. Shared on 2 December the video shows the mortar dug into the ground with the operator firing three bombs in quick succession. Several seconds later we can hear them detonate down range. Again the video appears to show training and not operations. The machine translated caption describes a test with the 2B25 with the operators showing they could correct their fire with a drone, noting: “the accuracy and density of fire on the intended target increased significantly, the bombs hit the target one by one” Most recently, on the 3 December, a short clip with the caption “Another short video from our training” was shared showing the mortar being laid.


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The MP-443 Pistol In Ukraine

There have been a considerable number of sightings of the MP-443 pistols in Ukraine over the past two months. Unsurprising as it is the Russian armed forces issue side arm. Introduced in 2012, large scale issue of the pistol reportedly began in 2016. The pistol has been seen in holsters and chest rigs of Russian troops in Ukraine alongside substantial numbers of the classic Makarov PMs and even a few Stechkin APS.

The MP443 was developed at the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant by the Vladimir Yarygin. Izhevsk now falls under the Kalashnikov Concern banner. Commonly known as the Yarygin Pistol or PYa, it was codenamed ‘Gratch’ or rook during the Russian Army’s pistol trials, with the Russian military index number of 6P35. Work on the pistol began in the early 90s, initially to fulfil a Soviet Army requirement for a new pistol the pistol was finally selected in early 2003.

MP-443 (via Social Media)

The MP443 service pistol has a steel slide and frame, it uses the Browning short-recoil-operated tilting barrel action and has a double action/single action trigger. It has a pair of ambidextrous, frame mounted safety levers either side of the frame. The pistol does not have a decocking mechanism and has a semi-shrouded hammer.

The pistol we have to examine, courtesy of Cold War Collectables, is an MP-446 Viking, a commercial variant of the MP443. This pistol is non-firing and deactivated to UK specification when imported in 2011, but perfectly illustrates the working and disassembly of the pistol. 

MP-446 and double stack, double feed magazine (Matthew Moss)

The pistol strips in much the same way as other Browning-pistol derivatives. The take-down pin is removed, the slide slid forward and the barrel, recoil spring and guide rod can be removed. The frame of the MP-446 differs from the MP443 in that it is made of polymer rather than all-metal as in the service pistol. 

The MP446 also has a different barrel profile, with more material machined from the barrel of the civilian pistol to prevent it firing the Russian 7N21 +P+ 9x19mm service rounds, which are said to be armour piercing with hardened steel cores.

MP-446 disassembled (Matthew Moss)

One notable feature of the pistols magazine is that it is double stack – double feed, rather than a conventional single feed. The purpose of this is to increase feed reliability, but more recent versions of the pistol appear to have gone to a single feed magazine. 

The MP-443 is predominantly issued to senior enlisted personnel, NCOs and various special forces units. In Ukraine we have seen it in the hands of Russian regular army, VDV and Chechen units, including Chechen SOBR – a spetsnaz unit of the National Guard of Russia, operating in the south. We have a number of very good photos of a Russian operator who is believed to be operating in the East, though often said to be VDV Spetsnaz, and he has been seen to be carrying an MP-443 in his load bearing equipment. In other imagery they are occasionally seen with lanyards and often in thermoplastic moulded holsters. A number of captured examples have also been seen in Ukrainian hands.

Russian marksman with MP-443 on his chest rig (via Social Media)

One thing to bear in mind with a visual survey like this one is that, as with our earlier video on Savage Arms rifles in use in Ukraine, it is often difficult to identify specific units and locations for these photographs because they are shared and re-shared on various social media platforms and in many cases the original creator of the imagery has chosen not to state locations for operational security reasons. But photos and videos do give us some idea of the types of units and personnel  who are carrying the pistols in Ukraine.

Thank you to my colleague Abdullah of Khyber Armoury and friend of the channel Paul for their help filming, thanks to DixieMauser for help collecting photos of the pistol’s use in Ukraine, to Vlad and Lynndon for their input and special thanks to Jip of Cold War Collectables for letting us film items from his collection. 


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Specifications (via Rosboronexport):

Calibre: 9x19mm
Magazine capacity: 18 rounds
Action: short-recoil
Weight (with empty magazine): 950g / 33.5 ounces
Dimensions: 195x140x38mm / 7.7×5.5×1. 5in


Bibliography:

PYa Pistol, Modern Firearms, (source)

PYa Pistol, Rosboronexport, (source)

PYa Yariggin Pistol, Small Arms of Russia, (source)

 

 

The 2B25: Russia’s Silent Spigot Mortar

Recently there have been a number of defence media articles about Russia’s new ‘silent’ mortar. It’s often described as cutting edge technology but in reality it’s based on technology over 100 years old. 

The Russian 2B25 82mm mortar is in fact a spigot mortar. What is a spigot mortar? Unlike a conventional mortar which uses gravity acting on the bomb dropped into the tube striking the anvil or striker at the base of the tube detonating the propellant cartridge in the bomb and launching the mortar bomb. A spigot mortar alters this principle, instead using a spigot or metal rod onto which a bomb with a hollow tail is placed. The bomb’s tail then becomes the element which contains the pressure from the detonated propellant charge rather than the tube as in a conventional mortar. The 2B25’s bomb has a plug at at the base of the propellant cartridge which when fired is pushed down the bomb’s tail tube by the expanding propellant gases – essentially acting as a piston. The plug is prevented from leaving the tube by a constriction at the tube’s end. This captures the gases and reduces the report of the mortar.

The 2B25 82mm Mortar (CRI Burevestnik/Russian Army)

Perhaps the most famous spigot mortars are the Blacker Bombard and PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank) of world war two. I wrote a book about the PIAT a couple of years ago so the 2B25 really interests me as a niche application of the same technology!

Spigot mortars have a number of benefits and drawbacks which set them apart from conventional mortars, including a shorter range and slower rate of fire than conventional mortars, but the advantages primarily seized upon is their reduced sound signature and lighter weight. The ignition of the propellant cartridge against the spigot, inside the bomb’s tail tube removes visible flash and is much quieter than a conventional mortar which. The 2B25 optimises this by enclosing the bomb inside a light weight tube to further reduce the visual and audio signatures of the weapon firing even further.

Why is this important and why are ‘silent’ mortars useful? With a reduced signature on the battlefield the chances of effective counter-battery fire are reduced enabling the mortar fire to be more effective and sustained. The developers claim that the 2B25 is about as loud as AK fitted with a PBS-1 suppressor, about 135db, substantially quieter than a standard mortar.

The patent for the 2B25’s bomb, filed in August 2011 and published in February 2013, states:

“proposed shell comprises main part and tail. Tail case accommodates propellant charge and combination piston with initiator. Shell is composed of detachable sealed screw assembly of tail and main part. Tail is furnished with fin. Tail charge chamber accommodates multi-section propellant to be implemented in various versions.”

Patent diagram of the 2B25’s self-contained piston bomb (Russian Patent #2494337)

The 2B25 first began to appear in western media back in 2018 but the design dates back to at least the early 2010s. Developed by the central research institute Burevestnik, it is manned by a two man team and can be transported in a backpack. Officially released data for the mortar suggests it has a maximum range of 1,200 metres with a rate of fire of perhaps 15 rounds per minute. It is reportedly equipped with a standard MPM-44M optical mortar sight.

The mortar appears to be of a fixed spigot design with a firing pin running inside the spigot. This means that unlike the PIAT the 2B25’s spigot does not move. Once the bomb is slid into the mortar tube, down onto the spigot, the operator pulls a handle at the base of the weapon downwards to cock the weapon and then pushing it up to fire it. 

The 2B25 82mm Mortar (CRI Burevestnik)

The mortar’s baseplate is said to be made of an aluminium alloy with the whole weapon weighing 13kg or 28.6lbs. The mortar’s 3VO35 bomb itself weights 3.3kg and has a 1.9kg warhead.

Both Russian and western media reports have stated that the weapon has been delivered to the Russian armed forces with some suggesting it was in use by “special-purpose units”, possibly Spetsnaz 

The 2B25 certainly isn’t the only modern spigot mortar in service, others include the Fly-K from Rheinmetall. Personally, I find it fascinating that spigot-based weapons still have a place on the battlefield, albeit a niche one.


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Bibliography:

82mm 2B25 Mortar, CRI Burevstnik, (source)

Mortar Silent Shot, Russian Patent, RU2494337, 16 Aug. 2011, (source)

Mortar 2B25 “Gall” No noise and flash, TopWar, 26 Sept. 2018, (source)

Advanced Silent Mortars Start Arriving for Russian Army, Tass, 7 May 2019, (source)

Russian-made 2B25 “Gull” Silent Mortar will be Modernized in the Imminent Future, Army Recognition, 13 Nov. 2015, (source)

Russian Commandos Are Getting “Silent” Mortars, The Drive, 7 Sept. 2018, (source)

Footage:

Silent Killer: Test Footage of the Latest Mortar for Special Forces, Zvezda, 25 Dec. 2015, (source)

2B25 Silent Mortar, Rosoboronexport, 24 Nov. 2021, (source)

82mm Mortar Silent 2B25, Russian TV Report, 27 Feb. 2014, (source)