Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February we’ve seen a number of FN MAG variants appear in use with Ukrainian forces. By far the most common appears to be the US M240 series. However, in recent months we’ve also seen a number of Swedish KSP-58s appear in imagery from the field.
Sweden has long supported the Ukrainian war effort providing a shipment of 5,000 Pansarskott m/86 anti-armour weapons (perhaps better known as the AT4) back in late February. The transfer of an additional batch of 5,000 m/86s was announced on 2 June. Most recently on 30 June it was reported that Sweden would provide a fresh batch of light anti-armour weapons and also machine guns as part of a transfer worth $49 million. When delivery of this aid was made is unconfirmed but the KSP-58s are reported to have been in theatre possibly as early as July – August.
While the type of machine gun was not confirmed, since the beginning of September we’ve seen imagery of a number of KSP-58 GPMGs appear in theatre. Easily identified by their wooden stocks, grey-green-coloured receiver finish and enclosed front sight. Sweden was one of the earliest adopters of the FN MAG and the Kulspruta 58 or KSP-58 entered service with the Swedish armed forces in the late 1950s and was originally chambered in the 6.5×55mm Swedish round. The KSP-58B was introduced following the adoption of 7.62x51mm. The guns were made under license from FN at the Carl Gustav Stads rifle factory in Eskilstuna.
These have been seen in the hands of International Legion units and also regular Ukrainian Army units centred around Mykolaiv and Kherson. All the the examples of the weapon sighted appear to be KSP-58Bs, none of the guns seen have the Picatinny rails seen in the KSP-58F.
Speaking to Kaiser [frontline_view_kaiser] a German volunteer with the Ukrainian Army, he said his unit encountered a “a brand-new, never used KSP with original factory delivered Box and all accessories untouched”. His colleague Yuri [nucking_futs_yuri] has shared some videos filmed in late-August, during a training session he ran on FN MAG variants for various Ukrainian units. Yuri said their were about 20 guns on the range during the training session, with the majority being KSP-58s. Yuri shared a video in mid-September firing a through a KSP-58B, from the hip, filmed after the training session had been completed.
While we can’t confirm that the KSP-58s came directly from Sweden it seems likely. Another potential origin for the weapons may be the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). Sweden gifted an unconfirmed number of KSP-58s to the Baltic States in the 1990s. Today, the guns remain in service with the Latvian Army and National Guard, the Estonian Army and Estonian Defence League and the Lithuanian Army and National Defence Volunteer Force. Both Estonia and Lithuania began searching for a replacement for the KSP-58 in mid-2021. Given the Baltic states’ support for Ukraine the guns may potentially have originated from there, rather than Sweden itself. We have already seen the Baltic States have transferred former Swedish equipment including the PV-1110 recoilless anti-tank gun which were given to the Baltic states in the early 1990s.
It remains to be seen if we’ll see more of the KSP-58s in the field but in future articles/videos we’ll look at other FN MAG variants are in use in Ukraine.
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Kulspruta 58, Forsvarsmakten, (source)
KSP-58, Soldf.com, (source)
Sweden to boost military aid to Ukraine, Politico, 29 Aug. 2022, (source)
Sweden to send military aid to Ukraine, Reuters, 27 Feb. 2022, (source)
Sweden assists Ukraine with the Robot 17, SVt.se, 2 June 2022, (source)
Sweden to send more anti-tank weapons and machine guns to Ukraine, Reuters, 30 June 2022, (source)
Estonia to acquire new weapons for EDF, Defense League, ERR, 18 Nov. 2022, (source)
Lithuania buys machine guns for EUR 34 million, Defence 24, 20 Aug. 2022, (source)