Colt Canada / Diemaco C7 Rifles & C8 Carbines in Ukraine

We’ve seen a large number of different small arms being transferred to Ukraine. The large number of different 5.56x45mm chambered rifles is especially interesting. This is the first of a series of videos examining the variety of different 5.56x45mm rifles which have been seen in the field. These range from US M4A1s to FN F2000s and everything in between. 

We’re starting the series examining the use of Colt Canada produced rifles and carbines. We first began to see Colt Canada C7 rifles appearing in the hands of Ukrainian personnel in May. They have continued to be seen in use with units including the Belarusian Kalinouski Regiment, International Legion Units and most recently one was seen in the hands of Ukrainian special operations forces landing on the Kinburn Spit. 

Members of the International Legion with C7A1 rifles fitted with ELCAN SpecterOS3.4x (C79) (via social media)

Diemaco, renamed Colt Canada in 2005, began producing the C7 in 1982. These were derived from the US M16A1E1 programme which led to the development and adoption of the M16A2. The C7 differs from the M16A2 in a number of ways but principally in that it retains the M16A1’s rear sight set up and its semi- and full-automatic fire modes, rather than the A2’s 3-round burst. The versions seen in use in Ukraine are C7A1s, which replace the fixed carrying handle with a modified Weaver rail for mounting optics.

The primary users of the C7A1 are Canada (who have since moved to the C7A3), Denmark who issue the C7A1 as the M/95 and the Netherlands who adopted the C7A1 in the early 1990s. 

Member of the Kalinouski Regiment with a C7A1 rifle fitted with an ELCAN Hi-Mag optic (via social media)

I reached out to the Dutch, Canadian and Danish defence ministries and while the Dutch and Danish ministries declined to comment the Canadian Ministry of National Defence responded to confirm that Canada has not, to-date, provided any C7 pattern rifles. Instead, the Canadian spokesperson confirmed that Canada has provided an unspecified number of C8 carbines. 

Another indicator of this is that some of the photographs show the original Diemaco stylised ‘D’ roll mark on the magazine housing. Canadian C7A1s have the ‘D’ roll mark above the trigger, with a Canadian maple leaf engraving on the magazine housing. Sources state that Colt Canada refitted most of Canada’s C7A1s into the C7A2 configuration, with a collapsing buttstock, in the 2010s. 

Ukrainian servicemen with C7A1 rifles fitted with ELCAN Hi-Mag optics (via social media)

This means that the C7A1 rifles seen in Ukraine were likely provided by either the Netherlands or Denmark. The Netherlands adopted the C7A1 and fielded it with ELCAN SpecterOS3.4x (C79). Interestingly, there has also been at least two sightings of a 6x ELCAN Hi-Mag on a C7A1 in early October. The Hi-Mag was adopted by the Dutch military as a machine gun optic which may point to at least some of the rifles coming from a transfer from the Netherlands. I have not been able to find any mention of the Danish armed forces using the Hi-Mag.

The C7A1s have been seen fitted with a mix of ELCAN C79s, Aimpoint Comps, various reflex sights and some with original Diemaco/Colt Canada rear iron sights. Some have already been adapted with some pretty interesting paint schemes and fitted with suppressors.

Various C7A1 rifles with suppressors (via social media)

An anonymous source familiar with Canada’s aid to Ukraine noted that the C8 Carbines transferred were C8 SFWs (C8A3s with railed forends). This means that the C8s so far seen in use in the field may be from Denmark, the Netherlands or another supplier. The first appearances of C8s in videos shared to social media that I could find date to September, but they’ve likely been in use prior to this. This piece of combat footage which was shared on social media around the 19 September is especially interesting as we see C8 carbines with ELCAN Specters but at least one has a red dot and magnifier set up. We can also see TRIAD rail mounts which are attached around the front sight base. This may indicate the carbines are C8A3s but its difficult to make out the other defining features of the A3. The TRIAD was developed to allow attachment of accessories without changing out the hangdguards, in this case most of the guys appear to have fitted vertical front grips

Ukrainian serviceman with a C8 Carbine, with Triad rail and a suppressor (via social media)

An individual on the Kherson front has also shared numerous images and videos featuring his personal weapon – a C8 with a suppressor and what appears to be a more modern ELCAN Specter. The individual also shared some footage of himself and others running a contact drills. 

In future articles/videos we will explore the plethora a 5.56×45mm chambered rifles, carbines and light machine guns transferred to Ukraine.


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Supercut: Ukrainian Farmers Stealing Russian Tanks

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February large quantities of vehicles and equipment have been captured or destroyed on both sides. Fighting a war in the social media age means we have an unprecedented amount of first hand footage and of course from this memes are going to evolve. Almost as soon as the war began videos of Ukrainian farmers towing Russian vehicles began to be shared on telegram, tiktok and instagram. Often salvaging abandoned equipment the videos soon made unlikely heroes of Ukraine’s farmers. So much so they’ve been commemorated not just by Saint Javelin merchandise but also an official stamp from the Ukrainian post office.

I’ve collected quite a few videos of the farmers in action over the last few months and Rob Lee over on twitter has been keeping a running thread too. So here’s a supercut of videos showing Ukrainian farmers towing away everything from trucks to Grad launchers to T-80 tanks!


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Bibliography:

Famous for towing captured Russian tanks, Ukrainian farmers step up for war effort, CBC News, (source)

Winning design in Ukraine’s second design contest features tractor and tank, Linn’s Stamp News, (source)

Ukraine Celebrates Its Tank-Towing Farmers, VOA, (source)

French HPD2A2 Mines in Ukraine

Earlier this week (7 November) Alexander Borodai, the former leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic now a member of the Russian Duma for the separatist region, was seen in a video showing a near miss with a French HPD 2A2 anti-vehicle mine. The video, believed to have been filmed south of Kherson, showed the lead vehicle of Borodai’s convoy damaged by a mine, while another mine was seen next to his vehicle. The lead vehicle appears to be badly damaged with the front of the vehicle seemingly taking the brunt. If the vehicles was damaged by a HPD 2A2 it is interesting that the 4×4 vehicle was able to set off the mine which is designed to be triggered by heavier armoured vehicles, though some sources state movement of even smaller metal objects near by can trigger the mine. Similary Borodai is lucky not to have triggered the mine’s anti-tamper system.

The mine is clearly identifiable as a French HPD-2A2 with the lot number 01-BT-19. Various sources suggest around 400,000 of the HPD series of mines have been produced and they’re in service with the French, Norwegian, Belgian and Swiss armed forces. From Borodai’s video we can see the mine has a serial number of ‘9131229‘. Another example photographed in early October has the partial serial number ‘91296..’ visible. Both mines are from the same lot and the end digits seem to denote year of manufacture – 2019.

Russian sources suggest the mines have been in theatre since August but the first images of the mines were shared in early July, pictured in the back of a Ukrainian van with German DM-22 off-route mines and DM-31s. Some video was released by a Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer in July which is claimed to show a Russian vehicle destroyed by one of the HPD-2A2 mines.

The HPD family of mines (which includes the HPD 1, 2 and 3) began to be developed in the early 1980s by Thomson-CSF and Daimler-Chrysler Aerospac. The HPD2 (or MI AC HPD F2 in French service) was introduced in 1988. The mines use a 3.3kg charge made up of an RDX/TNT mix to create an explosively formed penetrator using the Misznay–Schardin effect. The mines are said to be able to penetrate armour between 100 to 150mm thick. The mines have a 10 minute arming delay once set and can be active for up to 30 day before they deactivate themselves. Because the mine can be triggered by the electromagnetic field of a metal detector it has been said that this contravenes the Geneva Convention’s Protocol II (May 3, 1996).

The HPD-2 is made up of two sections: a fuze assembly with a magnetic influence sensor and a two battery power supply, the self-neutralising system and the arming mechanism and the mine’s explosive charge. It reportedly has an anti-handling device sensitive to motion and the signals produced by metal detectors. The mine is detonated when the seismic sensor reacts to vibrations made by passing vehicles and a magnetic sensor is activated. The magnetic sensor uses variation in the earth’s magnetic field caused by the proximity of a vehicle’s large metal mass. Sources suggest the magnetic sensors is triggered by vehicles over 8 tons.

While there has been no official confirmation the mines are believed to have been provided by France as part of their military aid to Ukraine which has also included VAB armoured vehicles, Mistral short range air defence systems and anti-tank guided missile systems including MILAN and Javelin.

We’ve previously examined the German DM22, Estonian PK-14 and Russian PTKM-1R mines in use in Ukraine.


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Bibliography:

HPD-2 Landmine, CAT-UXO, (source)

MI AC HPD F2 Landmine, Fenix Insight, (source)

HPD Mine, Lexpev.nl, (source)

HPD Mines, Rufor.org, (source)

MI ACH 88, RMS, (source)

State Duma deputy’s security car blows up on French HPD anti-tank mine in Ukraine’s Kherson region, EuroWeekly, (source)

Arms For Ukraine: French Weapons Deliveries To Kyiv, Oryx, (source)

Ukraine’s New & Improved Home Made Self-Propelled Gun

Back in August we took a look at an improvised vehicle built by Ukrainian troops near Mykolaiv. It paired an MT-LB tracked armoured fighting vehicle with an MT-12 100mm anti-tank gun. Now engineers from Ukrtransgaz – Ukraine’s state-owned gas pipeline company, have taken that concept and developed an improved version of the home made self-propelled gun.

On Monday 26 September, Ukrtransgaz shared a post on their facebook page about the new vehicle saying:

“Our colleagues were approached by the soldiers of the TpO [Territorial Defence Forces] detachment with a request for the manufacture of such an installation. The idea of ​​combining an armored personnel carrier and a cannon into an improvised self-propelled gun was borrowed from the Mykolaiv military, which in August produced and successfully tested the first such installation in battle. So they decided to “improve” the trophy Russian MT-LB with the Ukrainian Rapira for their own needs.”

Ukrtransgaz noted that the vehicle took a team of six engineers two weeks to construct. Beneath the facebook post the company also shared a short, sadly low resolution, video of the vehicle being tested. TAB reached out to Ukrtransgaz for a better version of the footage but sadly they didn’t have one available.

The team behind the gun had assistance from an unnamed ‘specialized university’ who helped increase the gun’s elevation, which is normally capped at +20°, and in theory increase the gun’s range. It’s unclear which ammunition is being used with Ukraine’s MT-12s, whether it’s APFSDS or HEAT.

The company states that the vehicle is ready for operations and has successfully passed tests on the range, ready to be deployed. They also note that the team intends to manufacture at least two more such self-propelled guns.

Examining the Ukrtransgaz SPG we can see that the roof of the MT-LB has again been cut back but the the mounting of the gun is slightly higher and armour protection has been built up around the sides for the gun crew. From the footage shared we can see that theres room for around six troops to sit in the rear of the vehicle. Unlike the earlier Mykolaiv-built vehicle there does not appear to be the pair of hydraulic supports to stabilise the vehicle when firing.


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PK-14 Directional Mines In Ukraine

Recently another interesting anti-tank mine was spotted in use in Ukraine. The Estonian PK-14 or M14 directional mine appeared in photographs which were shared online around 9 September. The PK-14 is a directional mine capable of penetrating about 50mm of armour at a distance of 50 meters.

Photos of the PK-14 in the field were shared for the first time on 9 September (via Social Media)

Unlike the German DM22, which is also in service with Ukrainian forces, the PK-14 utilises the Misznay–Schardin effect with 1.5kg charge of PBX used to create an explosively formed penetrator. The PK-14 is capable of damaging most light IFVs and AFVs. It can be set up on a small tripod or even mounted to a tree, telephone poll or post – useful for attacking targets from above.   

The Estonian defence company who manufactures the mine list it as both the PK-14 and M14.  The mine is produced by Terramil under license from another Estonian defence company, Eesti Arsenal, who also offer several training systems.

The PK-14 assembled (nucking_futs_yuri)
The PK-14 assembled, tripod in the tall configuration (nucking_futs_yuri)
The PK-14 assembled, tripod in the low configuration (nucking_futs_yuri)

The PK-14 has a diopter sight which attaches to the top of the mine and allows it to be laid across the expected path of a target. The sight itself is a inexpensive moulded plastic tube with a narrow aperture which was described to us by an American serving with the Ukrainian armed forces as looking “like a scope you would find on a cheap toy gun at the corner store”. The mine’s casing is cleverly designed with a series of grooves that allow the sight to be slid into place and for the mine itself to be mounted on its tripod.

The PK-14’s sight tube (nucking_futs_yuri)

This instructional video from the manufacturers shows how the mine can be set up. The mine is command-initiated using a shock tube integrated system (STIS). This means that the mine isn’t tripped by a wire like the German DM-22 or by movement as in the Russian PTKM-1R, but in person by an operator. In practice the operator would set up the mine at a location the enemy is expected to pass, unspool the shock cord back to a concealed position and wait for the enemy vehicle to move within range of the mine.

In theory it is possible to rig the mines up with a makeshift pressure plate detonation system you could take the pressure plate from a conventional anti-tank mine like a TM-46 or TM-57 and wrap some detcord with a blasting cap at the end around it so when a vehicle rolls over it detonates the mine. The mine can be set up to strike from above so it hits the tank’s weak top armour or buried in the middle of the road so it can strike up through the vehicle’s belly armour.

The PK-14’s basic components (nucking_futs_yuri)

Special thanks to nucking_futs_yuri, who is best known as the turret gunner who ran an M2 Browning and was handed some AT4s by his vehicle crew when he called for more ammunition in a recent viral video. Yuri has provided photos and video of a PK-14 in his units inventory. Check out his video showing the components of the mine here.

It’s a small, affordable mine but it is currently unknown how many PK-14 mines have been sent to Ukraine but Estonia, along with the other Baltic states, has been a significant supporter of Ukraine since before Russia’s invasion in February. Estonia began procuring the mines for the Estonian Defence Force in 2015.

nucking_futs_yuri’s video showing the components and set up of the PK-14

In terms of how they may be deployed in Ukraine, the small size and light weight of the PK-14 may be useful for small Ukrainian reconnaissance and special forces teams operating behind Russian lines. Yuri explained that they’re preferred over convention Soviet TM mines as they’re lighter, he stated that:

“normally we each take 2 or more with us, set up our ambush and wait. We could mount them high if need be and get the top of the turret or even bury them in the middle of the road… so it explodes under the center of the tank.”

Check out Yuri’s YouTube channel and Instagram page.


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Bibliography:

PK-14 Landmine, CAT-UXO, (source)

‘The “smart” mines produced by an Estonian company will receive their first combat missions in Ukraine’, Forte, (source)

Anti-armor mine PK-14, Terramil, (source)

PK-14 Side Mines, Eesti Arsenal, (source)

UK Has Procured Chinese AKs to Train Ukrainian Troops

In recent weeks we’ve examined how the UK has procured various 7.62x39mm AK-pattern rifles for use in training Ukrainian troops in the UK. The latest video and photographs from the training the UK is providing show that alongside the previously identified AK variants a number of Chinese Type 56-1s have also been procured.

Ukrainian troops with Type 56-1s at the range undertaking marksmanship training and completing weapon handling tests and passing the ACMT live firing assessment (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

On the 9th July, the UK’s Ministry of Defence announced that as part of its agreement to train 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers it had acquired a significant number of AK-pattern rifles. The MoD’s original press release stated:

“The Government has rapidly procured AK variant assault rifles for the training programme, meaning Ukrainian soldiers can train on the weapons they will be using on the front line. This effort was supported by the Welsh Guards, who tested more than 2,400 such rifles in 17 days to ensure they were ready for the Ukrainians to commence their training.”

From imagery published by the MoD we previously confirmed that the AKs procured included: Zastava M70 (or M70B)s, milled receiver M70As, folding stock M70AB2s, Hungarian FEG AK63Ds and East German MPi KMS-72s. The latest photographs released, which appear to have been taken in late July at Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA), and show a type of rifle we haven’t seen previously – the Type 56-1.

Ukrainian trainees conducting weapon drills with Type 56-1 (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

They show rifles with under-folding stocks, stamped receivers, rivet positions and enclosed front sights which indicate them to be Chinese Type 56-1s. Where did the UK procure these rifles from? While it has been suggested that the UK may have seized the rifles during operations to interdict the arming of Houthi rebels in an earlier statement to The Armourer’s Bench the MoD said that the rifles has been “rapidly procured… through a combination of international donations and private purchase.”

Ukrainian trainees conducting weapon drills (magazines off) with Type 56-1 (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

The same cadre training at SPTA were also seen undertaking Fighting In Built Up Areas (FIBUA) training with British L85A2 rifles. It is believed that the British bullpups are being used for exercises requiring blank firing due to a likely combination of a shortage of AK blank firing adaptors (BFAs), blank ammunition, and the AK BFAs not being deemed safe enough for British training areas. The MoD previously stated that the L85A2s and their BFAs were being used to ‘maintain strict safety conditions for both British and Ukrainian soldiers during training and to meet the urgency of the training requirement.’

As with the other AK-pattern rifles procured by the UK for the training of Ukrainian personnel the Type 56s won’t be returning to Ukraine with the trainee soldiers, the UK MoD has stated that they are providing uniforms, protective kit and other equipment but not individual weapons.


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Swedish PV-1110 Recoilless Guns In Ukraine

On 18 August Russian Telegram channels began sharing photographs of weapons claimed to be captured from Ukrainian forces, near Sloviansk, including a DShK, a damaged MG-42/59 and most interestingly a Swedish PV-1110.

The Pansarvärnspjäs 1110 or PV-1110 is a recoilless gun developed by Bofors which saw service with the Swedish military between 1959 and the late 1990s/early 2000s. While not the only recoilless rifle/gun in use in Ukraine, others include the Carl Gustav and SPG-9, the 90mm smoothbore PV-1110 is perhaps the rarest. With sources suggesting that fewer than 2,000 PV-1110s were manufactured this would make the PV-1110 one of the rarest anti-tank weapons in use in Ukraine.

A Swedish PV-1110 claimed to be captured from Ukrainian forces (via Russian telegram channels)

Developed in the early 1950s it was adopted by Sweden in 1959, the PV-1110 could be mounted on vehicles but also on a wheeled carriage with the barrel suspended from an ingenious ball joint mount. In the photographs of the captured example, showing its serial number #5936, we can see this two-wheeled carriage for the weapon. 

The ball joint was intended to compensate for firing from an uneven position. The PV-1110 weighs in at around 260kg (just over 570lbs) and has an optical sight on the left side of the barrel as well as a spotting rifle, based on the Ag m/42 chambered in 7.62x51mm, mounted on top. The PV-1110 has an effective range of up to 1,000m but engagement of moving targets is limited to around 700m according to the Lithuanian Army. With a good crew it is capable of firing up to 6 rounds per minute. The older m/62 HEAT round could penetrate up to 380mm of rolled homogeneous armour (RHA), the m/77 can penetrate up to 500mm and the m/84, the most modern and capable round can penetrate up to 800mm of armour. It’s unknown what ammunition has been provided for the guns.

A Swedish PV-1110 claimed to be captured from Ukrainian forces (via Russian telegram channels)

While it could be suggested that recoilless guns and rifles like the PV-1110 are obsolescent the continued use of the SPG-9 shows they still have their uses. The PV-1110’s low-profile combined with its still quite effective penetration means its still a viable weapon against most armoured vehicles its likely to encounter.

Following on from the first sighting in Ukraine on 22nd August footage of a PV-1110 firing from a defensive position surfaced and we can see the gun on its very recognisable mount.

Still from video of the PV-1110 in Ukraine, c.22 August 2022

But how did Ukrainian forces come by their PV-1110? There were likely transferred from one of the Baltic nations which have supplied Ukraine with considerable military assistance. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all received a number of PV-1110s from Sweden when they were retired from service. It is unclear how many weapons each of the three countries originally received.

Troops of the Lithuanian National Defense Volunteer Force training with the PV-1110 c.2014 (Lithuanian Army) 

The Estonian Defence League reportedly had over 100 in inventory as of 2018 while the Latvian National Guard have a similar number. Lithuania’s Army and National Defense Volunteer Force have previously been seen to be equipped with the PV-1110 in recent years but they have reportedly since been placed in wartime reserve storage. No country has publicly confirmed the transfer of the PV-1110s, so with the Baltic nations slowly removing the guns from service it’s likely that the PV-1110s either came from the remaining guns held by the Swedish Army or from the stores of Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia. Regardless of their origin they represent one of the rarest recoilless guns in service in Ukraine.

Update 18/10/22:

Some recent footage of the PV-1110 in use in Ukraine. It is unclear where or when this footage was filmed but it surfaced on social media around 15 October. I suspect it was filmed during training rather than when in action. Regardless, it represents one of the few pieces of footage we have of the Swedish recoilless guns in action in Ukraine.

Bibliography:

Pansarvärnspjäs 1110 Avvecklad, Soldf.com (source

Prieštankinis beatošliaužis pabūklas PV1110, Lithuanian Army, (source)

Lithuania Volunteers Train with PV-1110, Lithuanian Army, (source)

90mm Recoilless Rifle promotional video, Bofors, (source)


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Ukraine’s Homemade Tank Destroyer

On 12 August videos of an improvised vehicle built by Ukrainian troops began to circulate online. While we’ve seen technicals and an increasing number of trucks turned into multiple rocket launcher systems, usually using spare or salvaged parts, in recent months the new vehicle is even more interesting.

Gun at full elevation (via ArmyInform)

The available footage shows an MT-LB tracked armoured fighting vehicle paired with an MT-12 anti-tank gun. Traditionally, the MT-LB and MT-12 aren’t an unusual pairing as the MT-LB was, and is, often used to tow artillery, including the 100mm MT-12 anti-tank gun.

Gun in action (via ArmyInform)

The Ukrainian General Staff shared a video of the homemade tank destroyer or self-propelled gun (SPG) in action on the 13 August, with the caption:

“Ukrainian soldiers demonstrate their own development, made from captured muscovite equipment. MTLB army tractor + MT-12 Rapira anti-tank gun = self-propelled anti-tank gun. The infantrymen did all the design and construction work on their own. The system has already been tested and is in the combat zone.”

The caption said that the footage had been filmed in the Mykolaiv region in early August by members of the Department of Public Relations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. A further video shared by ArmyInform, simply titled ‘Kraken’ (perhaps the name given to the vehicle as the Kraken is a popular symbol among Ukrainian forces), shares much of the same footage and the same description text.

The gun and vehicle are both of Cold War vintage with the 100mm smoothbore MT-12 entering service in the early 1970s and the MT-LB coming into service in the late 1950s/early 1960s.

The hydraulics supports added to the rear of the MT-LB (via ArmyInform)

From the footage we can see that the vehicle has been substantially modified to mount the gun, part of the rear roof of the vehicle appears to have been removed to allow the crew to operate the gun with some protection and to also achieve the gun’s maximum 20-degree elevation. Perhaps most interestingly, at the rear of the vehicle the builders have added a pair of hydraulic supports to stabilise the vehicle when firing, these can be seen descending from the rear of the MT-LB. These may be built using the MT-12’s original trail.

A view of the rear of the gun and vehicle (via ArmyInform)

The video even shows that a barrel travel lock has been fitted to lock the gun in place when the vehicle is on the move. The video does not show the interior of the vehicle so it is unclear how much the vehicle and the mounting point for the gun has been reinforced. The gun itself weighs just over 3 tons or 2, 750kg, though some of this weight from the carriage has likely been removed through the cannibalisation of the carriages when the gun was mounted. The video doesn’t indicate how much ready ammunition the vehicle can carry either. The video also shows the gun being fired by crew outside the vehicle pulling a long lanyard. Sources in Ukraine have said that in the field the system is fired by both the lanyard and the firing lever on the gun.

Barrel travel lock added to the vehicle (via ArmyInform)

While at first glance the gun looks like it could also be an older DD-44, which have been seen in use, the characteristic muzzle brake suggests its the later MT-12. While the official Ukrainian Army statement suggests both the MT-LB and gun were captured both were in Ukraine’s inventory in significant numbers before the current conflict. Before the Russian invasion in February the Ukrainian Armed Forces were said to have up to 500 MT-12s in service, in 2020. Similarly, Ukraine operated over 2,000 MT-LB before the invasion but there is visual confirmation of numerous Russian MT-LBs being captured.

Gun ready to fire (via ArmyInform)

So why go to the trouble of adapting an MT-LB to be capable of firing a gun from its roof? Perhaps the most likely answer is speed into action. While an MT-LB towing an MT-12 can in theory get the gun into action in under 2 minutes the creation of this ad hoc tank destroyer allows the gun to be brought into and out of action faster. With the need to unlimber and position the gun removed the improvised self-propelled gun can, in theory at least, shoot and scoot.

A photo of an adapted MT-LB, possibly a different vehicle from the one seen in the video shared by the Ukrainian General Staff (Photo redacted for OPSEC purposes)
A view of the rear of the vehicle showing the considerable reinforcement where the roof has been cut away (Photo redacted for OPSEC purposes)

Sources in Ukraine suggest that more than one of these vehicles has been constructed with work ongoing since at least July. Photographs shared with TAB support this with the vehicle pictured sporting the Ukrainian digital camouflage pattern. The photographs show the mount and the reinforcement done to the vehicle to support the MT-12. They are reportedly used more as assault guns, than ‘tank destroyers’, with the guns being used against Russian fixed positions and in support of infantry manoeuvres.


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Ukrainians Training with SA80s

In a recent video/article we looked at the AK-pattern rifles that the UK Ministry of Defense has procured to train Ukrainian troops with in the UK. In that video I touched on the use of British SA80/L85 pattern bullpup rifles used during the training of the Ukrainian troops. With fresh imagery it seems that the British rifles are playing a significant role in training the Ukrainian personnel at several training centres across the UK.

Ukrainian soldier seen with an SA80A2 with SUSAT during training, when visited by the Prime Minister in late-July (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

The SA80 rifles were first seen in the initial imagery released around the announcement of the training scheme but have appeared again since. They featured in photographs of Defence Minister Ben Wallace’s visit in early July and again a couple of weeks later during another visit by General Sir Patrick Sanders’, Chief of the General Staff. The rifles were seen with iron sights and fitted with blank firing adaptors. Interestingly, at least some of the Ukrainian personnel have been shown how to field strip the British rifles. 

Deputy Defence Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Havrylov with visits Ukrainian troops training in the UK, 19 July (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

On 19th July, imagery from a visit by the Deputy Defence Minister of Ukraine, Volodymyr Havrylov, also showed Ukrainian troops equipped with SA80A2s fitted with blank firing adaptors. As before the rifles were not fitted with optics.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that while AK-pattern blank firing adaptors have been procured, SA80’s with blank firing adaptors have also been used to ‘maintain strict safety conditions for both British and Ukrainian soldiers during training and to meet the urgency of the training requirement.’

Ukrainian troops field stripping and cleaning SA80A2s in early July (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

Because the rifles don’t have railed forends some thought they might be the earlier SA80A1s. We can tell that these rifles are SA80A2s from the up-turned scalloped tear drop charging handle which also doubles as a brass deflector. The rifles have the non-railed green polymer handguards fitted.  While the Daniel Defense produced railed forends have come to characterise what many thing is the A2 configuration, these were actually developed in response to an urgent operational requirement for troops deploying in Afghanistan. Many of the rifles overhauled by HK to the A2 standard retained the classic green handguards. Some, like those recently provided to the Royal Bermuda Regiment, actually have a green handguard designed by HK. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Ukrainian troops (Andrew Parsons/No.10 Downing Street)

We can easily identify British troops involved in the training, as we can see that they are equipped with the new SA80A3 with the characteristic new MLOK forends and Cerakote finish. 

On the 21st July, the UK Prime Minister’s office released photos and video of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to Ukrainian troops training in the North East of England. The imagery showed Ukrainian troops training in urban combat, known by the British Army as Fighting In Built Up Areas or FIBUA. This supports the theory that they are being issued for FIBUA and field exercises that require blank firing. Unlike in the earlier imagery the Ukrainians were armed with SA80A2s largely equipped with SUSAT sights. 


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Bibliography:

‘Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visits Armed Forces of Ukraine as training programme starts across the UK’, UK MoD, 9 July, 2022, (source)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the North East, UK Govt., (source)

Deputy Defence Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Havrylov meets with Ukrainian trainees in UK, UK MoD, (source)

UK Purchases AKs To Train Ukrainian Troops

On the 9th July, the UK’s Ministry of Defence announced that as part of its agreement to train 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers it had acquired a significant number of AK-pattern rifles. Initially sharing only one, fairly low res, photograph the official announcement stated that:

“The Government has rapidly procured AK variant assault rifles for the training programme, meaning Ukrainian soldiers can train on the weapons they will be using on the front line. This effort was supported by the Welsh Guards, who tested more than 2,400 such rifles in 17 days to ensure they were ready for the Ukrainians to commence their training.”

Ukrainian soldier at the range July 2022 (UK MoD / Crown Copyright)

The types of AK-pattern rifles procured was not announced but from the initial photograph released it was clear that at least one of the rifles was a Serbian-produced Zastava M70AB2, chambered in 7.62x39mm.

The programme is the latest phase of Operation ORBITAL, the British Army’s name for the long term support and training programme undertaken since 2015. To-date ORBITAL has reportedly trained some 22,000 Ukrainian personnel, with the initial phase being run in Ukraine until early 2022 when the threat of imminent invasion saw the training personnel in Ukraine withdrawn. At the same time Canada and the US have run similar programmes in Ukraine. T he UK has agreed to train 10,000 Ukrainians within 120 days and in comments to the press the Uk’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace saying that “if the Ukrainians ask for more, we’ll be open to more”.

Ukrainian soldiers seen here receiving training from 3 RIFLES, July 2022 (UK MoD / Crown Copyright)

The rifles procured will likely be retained in Britain to train successive cadres of Ukrainian personnel, however, the UK has gifted a substantial amount of uniform and kit with the Ministry of Defence’s 9th July statement saying that each soldier will be issued with:

  • Personal protective equipment including helmets, body armour, eye protectors, ear protectors, pelvic protection, and individual first aid kits
  • Field uniforms and boots
  • Cold and wet weather clothing
  • Bergens, day sacks and webbing
  • Additional equipment required for field conditions including ponchos, sleeping bags, and entrenching tools

The training is being undertake by around 1,050 UK service personnel largely drawn from 11 Security Force Assistance Brigade. The brigade was formed in 2021 and is tasked with “building the capacity of allied and partner nations”. Personnel from the 12th Armoured Brigade Combat Team and 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade as well as Ukrainian-speaking interpreters are involved.

The course the Ukrainian troops are undergoing is a condensed basic infantryman course which includes weapons handling and marksmanship fundamentals, battlefield first aid, fieldcraft, patrol tactics and the Law of Armed Conflict. From the file dates on the imagery released it appears that many of the photographs were taken in late June and early July.

British instructor with M70 rifle (UK MoD / Crown Copyright)

From examination of further imagery released it appears that the AK-pattern rifles procured for training the Ukrainian troops are all chambered in 7.62x39mm and the 2,400 rifles procured include: wooden-stocked Zastava M70 (or M70B)s, milled receiver M70As, folding stock M70AB2s, Hungarian FEG AK63Ds and East German MPi KMS-72s.

Interestingly, some photographs and video suggest that as part of the training at least some of the Ukrainian personnel have been shown how to field strip the British SA80/L85 rifles. These are believed to have been used with blank firing adaptors during training this theory was supported by Ukrainian troops being pictured with SA80/L85 pattern rifles, with the easily recognisable yellow blank firing adaptors fitted, during a visit by General Sir Patrick Sanders’, Chief of the General Staff, to meet Ukrainian troops doing Fighting In Built Up Areas (FIBUA) training. The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that while AK-pattern blank firing adaptors have been procured, SA80’s with blank firing adaptors have also been used to ‘maintain strict safety conditions for both British and Ukrainian soldiers during training and to meet the urgency of the training requirement.’

Ukrainian soldier at the range July 2022 (UK MoD / Crown Copyright)

The reasoning behind the procurement of rifles chambered in 7.62x39mm rather than the more regularly issued 5.45x39mm AK-74 pattern rifles is also unclear. Perhaps this was due to weapon availability and regardless of calibre the manuals of arms remains the same. There is no indication that training with support weapons such as general purpose machine guns or light anti-armour weapons is being provided.

When approached for comment on the sources and types of AK rifles procured, the Ministry of Defence told The Armourer’s Bench:

“The Government has rapidly procured AK variant assault rifles through a combination of international donations and private purchase, meaning Ukrainian soldiers can train on the type of weapons they will be using on the front line. All weapons were tested in accordance with UK legislative and safe working practices.”

While this doesn’t offer much detail it does suggest that the rifles were procured via donations and private purchase – the scale of the donations and private purchases remains unclear.

It has also been confirmed that elsewhere British personnel are training Ukrainian mechanised troops on various vehicles including Spartan, Husky and Mastiff at Bovington as part of ‘Project Spring Generation’. It was confirmed by the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, on 18th July, that the first cadre has now completed its training in the UK. Wallace also noted that Dutch personnel will be joining the British effort to train Ukrainian troops in the future.


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

‘Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visits Armed Forces of Ukraine as training programme starts across the UK’, UK MoD, 9 July, 2022, (source)

‘First Ukrainian Volunteer Recruits Arrive In UK For Training’, Overt Defense, (source)

Video 11 July, 2022, UK MoD, (source)

Video 12 July, 2022, UK MoD, (source)

Video 15 July, 2022, UK MoD, (source)

‘Thousands of Ukrainian ‘battle casualty replacements’ are being trained in England’, Sky News, (source)

‘British troops training Ukrainian forces seen ‘huge improvements”, Forces News, (source)