This is the forth part of our review of the key achievements of Ukraine’s defense industry in 2017. We have reviewed the 2017 performance of more than one hundred Ukroboronprom production facilities, dozens of plants represented in the Ukraine Defense Industry League, Ukraine Munition and Military Equipment Manufacturers Association, some Ukrainian developers and defense industry plants. We have gathered and analyzed a lot of open-source information to demonstrate that Ukraine is rapidly developing its military technology potential and improving its defense capability against the backdrop of Russia’s aggression. A strong army is needed for the liberation of the national territory, because “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”
The first and second parts of our review were dedicated to achievements of Ukraine defense industry’s armored vehicle, aircraft building and repair branches.The third part was devoted to the analysis of the activity of radio positioning and communication technology, and air defense systems. In this fourth part we present the main achievements of the Ukrainian defense industry in the development of precision-guided munitions, small arms as well as in the shipbuilding industry.
Following the conclusion of the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine gave up the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal and carried out total missile disarmament of its army. The Russian Federation, which had provided security guarantees to Ukraine and pledged to respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and existing borders, treacherously attacked Ukraine in February 2014. Amid the current Russian military aggression, it is strategically important to create a modern powerful missile shield serving as an effective deterrent and reliably ensuring the security of the state. A lot has been done towards this in 2017, and most importantly the production of new ballistic missiles and new rocket fuel has been mastered.
In 2017, the state joint-stock holding company Artem (GAKHK Artem) started operation of the new production shop equipped with the latest equipment, a CNC roller flowforming machine RFFM 330-138-300 made by the Turkish company Repkon.
The new process line is designed for the production of unique heavy-duty missile shells with a diameter of up to 300 mm, including for the Vilkha multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) project. In addition, due to the modernization and renewal of powerful pressing equipment, GAKHK Artem started the project for the shells production of 152 mm caliber artillery ammunition.
Last year also saw more successful tests of Vilkha, the new Ukrainian MRLS developed by Yuzhnoye and Luch design bureaus. GAKHK Artem is producing the missile bodies on the above mentioned new process line build around Turkish Repkon flowforming machine. During the tests, the ballistics were refined, the precision guidance system was tested as well the quality of the heavy-duty missile body, the effectiveness of the new solid rocket fuel, and the reliability of the target’s destruction by the warhead were checked.
Tests of the Vilkha MLRS on December 22, 2017 at the training range in Odesa Oblast
The MLRS is based on the 9K58 Smerch launcher. One of its main features is a guidance system with the possibility of correcting the path of a missile in flight. The launcher holds 12 rockets of of 300 mm caliber, each of which can be aimed at individual targets. The mass of the rocket is about 900 kg, with the warhead of 250 kg. Vilkha’s maximum engagement range is from 120 to 170 km, according to various sources. During the tests in May 2017, the missiles fired from the test range in the Odessa Oblast hit the targets at the range in the Kherson Oblast with a deflection of only about 15 m. Vilkha greatly outperforms and is designed to replace Tochka-U, one of the most powerful but obsolete tactical missile systems.
Vilkha missile system could enter service in the first half of 2018. According to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov,mass production of missiles for the needs of the Ukrainian Armywill start after the state trials of Vilka scheduled for March 2018. For the Russian Federation, it would mean that its borderline areas with Ukraine, as well as military units in the deep rear, both in the occupied Crimea and in the Donbas, will be within engagement range of targeted fire of the Ukrainian Army.
There is one more fact worth a special note, the Ukrainian defense industry has mastered the production of solid rocket fuel, which is necessary for a complete cycle of missile weapons production. This introduces Ukraine into the club of very few states on the globe that have the technology to produce precision-guided missile systems. The production of its own solid rocket fuel also allows Ukraine to rebuild the engines and extend the life of all other relevant weapon systems. All this significantly increases the overall defense capability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The Kharkiv Aviation Plant in cooperation with the Zaporizhzhya company Motor Sich and other enterprises continued work on the Neptune project, an anti-ship missile developed under the leadership of the Kyiv design bureau Luch. The Neptune will be used to defeat enemy ships with a displacement of up to 5,000 tons, the mainstay tonnage of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. In its performance, the Neptune is close to X-35-class anti-ship missiles, it will be located in transport and launch containers. It is planned to be mounted on three platforms: ship, land and air launchers.
The body of work carried out under the project in 2017, allowed to carry out successful tests of the ground-based modification missile on January 30, 2018.
The flight performance and functioning of all the vital systems of the new missile were checked during the tests.
Ukraine will be building a coastal anti-ship defense shield based on the Neptune missile and the naval radar systems Mineral-ME and its upgraded version Mineral-MEB, both designed by Kyiv Kvant Radar Research System Institute. One of the advantages of this radar is its capability of basing on sea and coastal platforms.
Mineral-ME station is able to detect surface targets in the active mode at normal refraction at a distance of up to 35 km, and at superrefraction – up to 250 km, in the passive mode – up to 450 km. The radar is capable of tracking up to 30 targets in the active mode and up to 50 targets in the passive detection mode. This anti-ship system will effectively counteract enemy ships and will serve as a deterrent to a possible offensive operation of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation. It would also significantly increase the level of potential unacceptable losses in an amphibious operation.
Yuzhnoye design bureau, the leading enterprise in the rocket and space industry of Ukraine throughout the year 2017 was running at least seven projects for the needs of the Ukrainian army. In particular, it’s the development of Hrim-2 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), of precision-guided ground- and ship-based cruise missiles, and two air defense systems with a range of up to 150 kilometers (in the future, up to 250 kilometers). In addition, the company is upgrading the MLRS.
One of the top priority missile projects is the development of the Hrim-2 SRBM, performed by Yuzhnoye Design Bureau in cooperation with with the Pavlohrad Chemical Plant and Pavlograd Mechanical Plant, a subsidiary of Yuzhmash.
The information about this project is mostly classified, it is presumably developed on the basis of the Sapsan SRBM, which is likely to be developed in parallel. The development of the multifunctional Sapsan SRBM was launched in 2006 under the active support of President V. Yushchenko. In August 2013, this project, which had been in advanced stages of development and had been moving at a good pace, was suspended on the personal initiative of the then Minister of Defense of Ukraine P.V. Lebedev, a proven agent of influence of the Russian Federation. Lebedev fled to Russia and is currently hiding from the investigation in the territory of the occupied Crimea. There is little official information on the performance of Hrim and Sapsan, however it is known that the original Sapsan missile is designed to defeat both single and group stationary targets at a range of 50 to 280 km. The warhead mass of a single-stage ballistic missile is 480 kg. The is a monoblock and a cassette warhead under development. The onboard control system is inertial, equipped with radar and optoelectronic navigation and guidance systems. The mass of the rocket with a 7.2-meter launch container is 3.5 tons. The estimated burst area is more than 10,000 square meters.
Hrim 2 is developed in the framework of the contract to supply new missile systems to Saudi Arabia. The range of the export modification of this missile system is limited to 300 km in compliance the treaties of 1998 on the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The self-propelled launcher is equipped with a mortar-type launching mount with two transport and launch rubes for autonomous launching of ballistic missiles.
In addition to ballistic missiles, Hrim-2 system is capable of launching cruise missiles. In order to provide a transporter-launcher-erector (TELAR) vehicle for the Hrim-2 system, Kharkiv Plant of Transport Equipment and Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau jointly developed and mastered the production of the first Ukrainian self-propelled 5-axle missile chassis with a 10×10 wheel formula This development gives Ukraine a full cycle of technologies to build its own SRBM.
Running prototype of the Hrim-2 TELAR
The missile system is in the final stage of the development cycle, with the trials of the control system, hydraulics, mechanics and transportation practically completed. Its solid rocket engine has also been tested. Live trials of the system are planned for 2018.
Fire testing of the Hrim-2 SRBM solid engine
Ukrainian army is supposed to receive the full-range Hrim-2 system, unlike the export modification which is regulated by the MTCR framework, and consequently its planned range will significantly exceed the declared 280 km and can reach 450-500 km. This missile system is expected to enter service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces within the next few years. This will significantly strengthen the defense capability of the state and, in essence, will be the most powerful non-nuclear deterrence weapon for the Russian aggressor, capable of hitting its advanced airfields, airbases and concentrations of troops on the territory of the Russian Federation.
The subsonic cruise missile Korshun-2 designed by the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau will serve as an additional compelling deterrent. This missile system also uses the available groundwork in the development of the Sapsan SRBM Project. Korshun-2 is based on the technology of the Soviet Kh-55 cruise missile (NATO reporting name: AS-15 ‘Kent’). It will be powered by the MS400 turbofan engine produced by the Zaporizhia company Motor Sich. The engine is built on the basis of the P95-300 turbfan used in the Kh-55 missile. The mass of the warhead and the range of the export version of the Korshun missile are similar to the Sapsan and Hrim-2 missile systems and are up to 480 kg and 280 km, respectively. The missile cruising at subsonic speed (0.7-0.8 Mach) at the ultra-low flight altitude is practically invisible for most air defense systems.
For the military deterrence of the aggressor, it is essential to delivery of strategic-range systems to the missile troops of the Ukrainian, i.e. cruise missiles not limited by the MTCR constraints and having a range of 1500-2000 km with combat capabilities similar to the American BGM-109 Tomahawk. Apparently, such requirements must be met by the Korshun-2 cruise missile, which will significantly strengthen the defense capability of Ukraine. This precision-guided weapon is bound to become one of the main elements of the non-nuclear missile shield of deterrence, and its development will be underpinned by the powerful potential of the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau, which had developed many of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles among them R-36M2 Voyevoda (NATO reporting name SS-18 Satan).
Ukraine is one of a handful of states that are able to independently develop and produce anti-tank guided missile systems (ATGMs).
In August 2017, the light armored portable missile system “Korsar” was manufactured by the Ukrainian State Enterprise “State Design Bureau” Luch “. The AFU subdivisions received more than 50 missiles with the same number of launchers.
PTRK “Korsar” with the help of laser guidance hits targets at a distance of up to 2.5 km, which corresponds to a similar distance to the defeat of American anti-tank missiles FGM-148 “Javelin”. Guidance on the target is carried out at a low energy level of exposure for the safety of the control channel. One of the main advantages of the complex are small dimensions, which allow it to be carried and to fire “from the shoulder” without auxiliary equipment. It is also envisaged to use a special machine for installing a complex on it to defend the prepared positions.
For the high-precision damage to targets by the missile system, the PN-KU guidance device is responsible, one of the innovative developments of the Izyum instrument-making plant, which provides guidance for the missile at a declared distance up to 2.5 km with an error of approximately 250 mm. This guarantees to the operator almost jewelry accuracy of guidance.
KB “Luch” developed and produced for the “Corsair” two types of guided 105-mm rockets RK-3K and RK-3OF.
RK-3K is used to destroy modern armored fixed and moving objects. With the aid of a tandem cumulative warhead, the missile can hit targets with combined, spaced or monolithic armor and provides an armored penetration level without taking into account dynamic protection of at least 550 mm.
The RK-3OF rocket is designed to destroy lightly armored objects, field type fortifications (DOT, MPT) and enemy manpower. High-explosive fragmentation warhead provides through penetration of armored plates 50 mm thick.
In addition, in 2017, the Luch KB delivered about 300 RK-2 missiles to the APU for its own well-proven anti-tank missile system Stugna-P of its own design and production.
This complex allows to defeat high-armored targets with combined, spaced and monolithic armor, including with dynamic protection, as well as field fortifications of the type of DOT and MPT at a distance of up to 5000 m. Stugna-P using controlled 130-mm RC-2 missiles provides penetration of at least 800-mm armor without taking into account the dynamic protection, which practically leaves no chance for any tank in the world. The complex is equipped with a semi-automatic guidance system for the laser beam PN-I developed by the Izyum instrument-making plant, and it is also possible to remote control the missile. The weight of the complex is 15 kg.
In December 2017, the US took a principled decision to grant Ukraine FGM-148 Javelin ATGM. President Donald Trump’s administration approved the decision to donate 210 anti-tank missiles and 35 launchers to them for a total of $ 47 million. This gesture is aimed at demonstrating the intentions of the US to further support the Armed Forces of Ukraine and enhance the overall defense capability of the Ukrainian army. At the initial stage, calculations will be made that will be able to use this high-precision weapon professionally, in the future, in case of a full-scale military offensive of the Russian Federation, the necessary allied assistance will be provided in the necessary and full volume. All this significantly reduces the offensive potential of the Russian aggressor and serves as a deterrent to him.
Portable ATGM of the third generation FGM-148 Javelin is designed for the destruction of armored vehicles, low-flying helicopters, BPLA and other targets at a distance of up to 2500 m. It is equipped with a combined sight that allows the complex to be used at any time of the day: day sight equipped with optics with 4-fold optical zoom, infrared night allows you to fire at night and in conditions of poor visibility. The weight of the sighting and launching device with a military missile is 22.3 kg. The 127-mm rocket is equipped with an infrared homing head, which allows to operate on the principle of “shot and forget” and a tandem cumulative warhead that provides armor for dynamic defense – 700 mm. The missile is resistant to any means of optical-electronic suppression. Destruction of enemy armored vehicles is carried out from the upper hemisphere. Maximum missile flight speed is 290 m / s. The time to prepare for a shot is up to 30 seconds.
However, despite the supply of Javelin, the Ukrainian army should invest in the development of its own high-precision weapons. The same PTRK “Korsar” is much cheaper, and in terms of efficiency is not in many ways inferior to the American analog. In addition, Javelin, in contrast to the “Corsair” and “Stugna” is not able to hit the non-contrast in terms of thermal purposes – long-term firing points, engineering facilities,
As a result of Russian military aggression and occupation of the Crimea, most of the ships of the Ukrainian Navy were captured, with only some of them later retrieved. Ukrainian anti-submarine corvettes Ternopil, Lutsk and Khmelnytsky, missile corvettes Pridneprovye and Kremenchuk (withdrawn from the fleet in 2012), large assault landing ship Konstantin Olshansky, large reconnaissance command ship Slavutich, submarine Zaporozhye and many other boats, ships, minesweepers, etc. are still held captive by the Russian Military Forces. In 2014, anti-submarine corvette Uzhgorod was broken up by the invaders for scrap. In addition to the lost Navy ships, Ukraine was also deprived of the production facilities of Feodosia shipbuilding company More [Ukrainian for “The Sea”], a division of Ukroboronprom. It should be noted that at the time of Crimea’s occupation, two anti-ship corvettes Lviv and Luhansk were being built in this company’s dock (completed by 95% and 60% respectively).
On January 11, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to hand over the seized naval vessels to Ukraine. This happened almost 4 years after they have been actively used, not only for their intended purpose, but also as donors for repairs of ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The proposal is absolutely unacceptable; an acceptable return of the ships would be pursuant to a decision of the International Hague Court – along with all the compensatory payments due.
The basis of the combat power of the Ukrainian fleet were mainly corvettes, so the loss of most of them dramatically undermined the combat potential of the Ukrainian Navy. To revive the Ukrainian Navy so as to efficiently resist the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Ukraine should start building new multipurpose corvettes and fast attack crafts of various types at an advanced pace. For this purpose, in November 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine increased funding of the state defense program for the building of project 58250 Corvette class ships to UAH 31.92 billion. The decision unblocked the building of the first ship in the series by the Black Sea Shipyard in Mykolaiv which had been halted in spring 2014.
Project 58250 ships were designed by Mykolaiv State Enterprise Research and Design Center for Shipbuilding (RDCS). With the total displacement of 2,650 tons, these ships are larger than conventional corvettes and their combat characteristics are similar to those of frigates, as they will be equipped with artillery armament, air defense and anti-missile defense systems, anti-submarine and anti-ship missiles, including, most likely, the Neptune missiles.
The maximum length is 112 m (100 m along the design waterline); beam, 13.5 m; speed, at least 30 knots; cruising range, 4,000 miles; endurance, 30 days. The ship’s crew is 110 men. The program provides for the building of 4 corvettes, with the first ship expected to be launched and handed over to the Ukrainian Navy in 2022.
The building of these corvettes requires massive funding and, most importantly, time. The situation with the building of fast attack crafts is somewhat better. In 2017, as many as four Project 58155 Gyurza-M small armored artillery boats (SAAB) joined the Ukrainian Navy: U-176 Vyshgorod, U-177 Kremenchuk, U-178 Lubny and U-179 Nikopol. The ships were designed by the RDCS and began to be built in 2016 by private company Zavod Kuznja na Rybalskom (Kyiv).
They will be used to defend and patrol maritime borders and coastal areas within 50 miles from their home ports, engage small enemy vessels, protect coastal stationary and floating facilities and structures, assist landing and border-guard units and ensure safe shipping. The maximum length of the boat is 23 m; beam, 4.8 m; total displacement, 50.7 tons; maximum speed, up to 28 knots, cruising range, 700 miles; endurance, 5 days. The ship’s crew is 5 people.
Ukrainian Navy’s flagship frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy and Gyurza armored boats.
The boats are equipped with a state-of-the-art Delta-M radar system designed and manufactured by Kyiv Research Institute Kvant-Radiolokatsia, which, until now, has been produced for foreign customers only. The ships have two BM-5M.01 Katran-M remote weapon systems (RWS) (a modification of BM-3 Sturm RWS for armored vehicles) featuring a 30-mm ZTM1 automatic cannon, 30-mm automatic grenade launcher, 7.62-mm KT machine gun and two laser-guided Barrier ATGM systems.
In addition to building small armored artillery boats, in 2017, Zavod Kuznja na Rybalskom continued the building of one special-purpose auxiliary ship and two Project 58181 Centaur small armored assault crafts designed by Mykolaiv RDCS based on Gyurza project boats.
Unlike Gyurza, Centaur crafts will have enhanced functionality and are expected to be equipped with a MLRS modified to fire S-8 unguided aircraft rockets. They will be used to patrol rivers and coastal sea areas as well as to transport up to 32 armed troopers and launch amphibious operations. These ships can provide fire support, lay sea mines, engage enemy combat boats and serve as a high-speed vessels for special operations.
In 2017, the RDCS in Mykolaiv continued designing its project 58260 Lan gunboats. Three gunboats are expected to be built, with the first one expected to join the Ukrainian Navy as early as 2019. It is noteworthy that at least 4 artillery boats serving in the Vietnam People’s Navy’s were built based on the Ukrainian Lan gunboats.
The gunboat’s displacement is 445 tons; length, 54.20 meters; beam, 9.30 meters. It accelerates up to 32 knots and has a cruising range of at least 2,000 miles. It is armed with two 57-76 mm and 30-35 mm guns and has chaff and decoy launching systems. The gunboat is likely to be armed with two anti-ship Neptune missile systems (each carrying 4 missiles) capable of engaging most of Russian Black Sea Fleet ships. These ships and project 58250 Corvette class ships will become the core of the new Ukrainian Navy’s strike force. Overall, the Ukrainian Navy will be strengthened substantially by building some 30 combat ships and boats.
To maintain the Ukrainian Navy’s ship count at a sufficient level, it is crucial that all necessary repairs are completed in good time.
In 2017, Ukrainian Navy’s flagship frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy was repaired in the docks of Ilyichevsk Ship Repair Plant by private company Zavod Kuznja na Rybalskom, the winner of the tender. Last year, degassing/deperming vessel Balta was also repaired and training boat Chygyryn (which had been out of service for over 20 years) recommissioned. U170 Skadovsk artillery boat and U541 Smila training boat were repaired by Southern Ship-repairing Company in the docks of the Black Sea Shipyard (a part of Smart Maritime Group). With these ships repaired and back in service, cadets will be trained using a complete group of training ships. The Black Sea Shipyard repaired, at its docks, U700 Netishyn marine diver support vessel.
In 2017, Ukroboronprom took a number of measures and revived Kherson plant Sudmash inactive since 2011. At the same time, serious financial problems of Mykolaiv Shipyard remained unresolved. The plant has a multi-million back pay; to make things worse, the state discontinued the financing of the building and maintenance of project 1164 Ukraine missile cruiser. Ukroboronprom and the plant (a division of Ukroboronprom) are taking measures to pull the plant out of the crisis and help restart production at one of the key shipbuilding facilities in Ukraine. Negotiations as to upgrading Ukrainian Navy flagship, frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, and completing the repairs of Svatove landing craft at the plant’s docks are now underway between the plant and the contractor.
In August 2017, Shipyard Ukraine of the Odessa Port completed, in its docks, the repairs of BG63 Pavel Derzhavin patrol ship contracted by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.
BG63 Pavel Derzhavin patrol ship after repairs
In September 2017, corvette Vinnytsya was put in a dry dock of the shipyard to inspect the ship’s hull, power plant and electrical equipment to decide whether the ship could be repaired.
Vinnytsya is the only anti-submarine corvette remaining in the Ukrainian Navy; due to its poor condition, it has been out of service for a very long time. Given that Russia has equipped its Black Sea Fleet with new submarines and that Ukraine has not, so far, built any new corvettes, repairing this ship able to effectively deter the aggressor is of great importance.
In November 2017, UMS Marine (Kyiv) won a UAH 24 mln tender for the supply of a small special-purpose boat (supposedly, armored UMS Patrol 1000) to the Mariupol Sea Guard Unit of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.
In addition to building new ships, Ukraine can also expand its fleet with ships provided to Ukraine by its closest allies. These are not decommissioned but rather mothballed ships. In 2017, Ukraine and the United States began negotiations to transfer to the Ukrainian Navy two mothballed Island-class coast patrol boats free of charge.
With excellent range, these patrol boats are ideal for patrolling the entire sea coast of Ukraine. The boats are made by the Lockport-based US company Bollinger Shipyards. Depending on the series, the total displacement ranges between 153 and 165 m; the boat’s length is 33.53 m; beam, 6.4 m. Crew – 16-18 people (including two officers). The vessel accelerates to 29.5 knots and has endurance of 5 days. The transfer of these boats to the Ukrainian Navy will bring the relations between the two allies, Ukraine and the USA, to a brand new level, helping to develop them further.
In 2017, the Armed Forces of Ukraine adopted a 5.45 / 7.62-mm Malyuk (also known as “special rifle Vulkan-M”) assault rifle, a bull pup conversion of the conventional AK-74 design. The new rifle is more compact and has better fire accuracy. The rifle was designed by a private company, InterProInvest, and is manufactured by state enterprise Krasylivsky Aggregate Plant.
It is noteworthy that the rifle can also use 5.56×45 mm NATO cartridges. Malyuk has passed all state trials and has been field-tested by Ukrainian army units, including in the combat zone in the east of Ukraine. The rifle will be soon enter service with Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. The rifle has an overall length of 712 mm; magazine capacity, 30 cartridges; target range, up to 1,000 m. Depending on the caliber (5.45 / 7.62 mm), the distance of a direct shot to a half-silhouette target is 460/340 m, initial bullet speed, 900 / 715 m/s; empty weight, 3,2 / 3,3 kg.
The M4-WAC-47 assault rifle (a shorter version of the M16А2 assault rifle) developed by Ukroboronprom and Aeroscraft (USA) is another compelling evidence of the efficient integration and cooperation between Ukraine’s military industrial complex and NATO’s defense industry.
The rifle is manufactured in Ukraine under the US Government license. One of its key advantages is the that it has modular design to be adapted for the use of different calibers and equipped, depending on the purpose, with barrels of different lengths. The first batch of the M4-WAC-47 assault rifles manufactured in Ukraine will shortly be provided to the relevant law enforcement agencies for testing. After the testing, the new American-Ukrainian assault rifle will enter service and go into mass production. This project will allow both the Armed Forces and the Defense Industry of Ukraine to easily adapt to NATO standards. The rifle’s caliber is 5.56×45 mm NATO, 5.45×39 and 7.62×39. Effective range is 600 m; magazine capacity, 30 cartridges; weight, 3.1 kg.
It should also be remembered that the key factor and an essential condition for proper integration into the NATO framework is the construction of a plant capable of producing not only munitions for the existing arms but also, in the first place, munitions that are fully compliant with the applicable NATO standards.
In 2017, the Armed Forces of Ukraine received VPR-308 and VPR-338 sniper rifles produced by PJSC Plant Mayak. The rifles use cartridges of different types: the former uses 7.62×51 mm NATO cartridge; the latter, .338 Lapua Magnum 8.6×70 mm cartridge. These rifles were designed on the platform of the Z-008 rifle designed by private Ukrainian company Zbroyar (gunsmith K.Yu. Konev).
Rifles are designed to engage small-sized targets and various items, such as medium-range radio stations, parked airplanes and helicopters, etc. VPR-308 and VPR-338 differ not only in caliber, but also in weight (7 and 9.8 kg respectively (empty)) and aimed fire range (900 and 1,300 m respectively). They have a fire rate of 15 rounds per minute. The new rifles have the benefit of high accuracy; and in terms of precision, they even surpass some of their Western counterparts. These rifles have already entered service with the National Guard of Ukraine.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine also adopted new sniper rifle Z-10 (UR-10) made by Ukrainian company Zbroyar. This is a self-loading semi-automatic rifle that was designed based on U.S. automatic rifle AR-10.
The rifle has the benefit of intense rate of fire at various distances and is ideal for special operations. The rifle breaks down into two pieces to transport it comfortably. The rifle’s caliber is 7.62×51 mm NATO; the rifle uses .308 Winchester cartridges and has an effective range between 400 and 800 m; maximum range, up to 2,000 m; weight (empty), 4.4 to 5.5 kg; magazine capacity, 10 cartridges.
NVO Fort (Vinnytsia) continued to produce and supply its small arms to Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies. One of the most effective, compact and ergonomic firearm types produced by the enterprise is assault rifle Fort 221 and its shorter version Fort 224.
These rifles are a licensed version of Israeli Tavor TAR-21 assault rifle. The bull pup configuration permits a much shorter weapon without reducing its barrel length. This rifle has proven to be very reliable, stealthy and easy to use. The rifle’s calibers are 5.56×45 mm NATO and 5.45×39 mm; effective firing range, up to 500 m; weight (empty), 3.9 kg; magazine capacity, 30 cartridges.
Fort-401 light machine gun is another excellent weapon produced by the enterprise to increase the Ukrainian army’s firepower. This machine gun is a licensed version of Israeli hand-held Negev machine gun currently in service with Israeli infantry divisions.
One of the key advantages of the machine gun is the use of disintegrating belts, with cartridges fed either from standard cases or soft assault drums. The machine gun’s calibers are 5.56×45 mm NATO and 7.62×51 mm NATO. Weight (empty): 8.1 kg. Depending on the caliber (5.56×45 or 7.62×51 mm), the drum capacity can be 150 or 100 cartridges; effective firing range, 500 and 1,000 meters respectively.
In December 2017, the Trump Administration, approved a license for the $41.5 million commercial sale of Barrett M107A1 sniper rifles developed by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing (including ammunition and associated parts and accessories) for the use by the Ukrainian Army.
Barrett M107A1 is an anti-materiel sniper system (i.e. designed for use against military equipment (materiel)) in service with the US Army. The rifle has also proven itself an excellent weapon not only against military equipment but against military personnel (namely, infantry) as well. The rifle’s caliber is 12.7×99 mm; cartridge, .50 BMG (its armor-piercing modifications pierce a 30 mm armored plate). Barrett M107A1 is 1,450 mm (overall) / 737 mm (barrel) long, has an effective firing range of 1,800 m (the maximum effective range being 2,000 m), magazine capacity of 10 cartridges, magazine capacity, 10 cartridges. These rifles were first purchased in 2015 for the NGU units repulsing the enemy’s defense line assault groups and sabotage-and-reconnaissance groups. Equipped with such a powerful weapon now, the Ukrainian Army will soon master its use in combat, adding to the toll it is taking on the Russian aggressor.
KhADO Chemical Group (Kharkiv) has designed a new large-caliber semi-automatic rifle Snipex 14.5 chambered for 14.5×114 mm cartridge. This is a powerful anti-materiel sniper system designed for high-precision long-range target shooting.
Soon-to-be large-caliber rifle Snipex 14.5 (mock-up)
The bull pup configuration permits a more compact design as well as maximum ease of operation and maintenance. Snipex is 1,870 mm (overall) / 1,320 mm (barrel) long, has an effective firing range of up to 5,000 m, overall firing range of up to 7,000 m, muzzle velocity of 1,000 mps and weighs 30 kg.
No doubt, the weapons we have reviewed will help the Ukrainian Army to resist the Russian army in the combat zone in the east of Ukraine; these weapons can change the combat tactics and techniques applied by the Ukrainian infantry divisions or even the very philosophy of combat operations.
In the fifth (final) part of the review, we will look at Ukraine’s defense industry’s major research and development in munitions and military equipment in 2017 and draw final conclusions.
The publication features photos from: ukroboronprom.com, uprom.info, rnbo.gov.ua, mil.in.ua, mil.gov.ua, yuzhnoye.com, luch.kiev.ua, dumskaya.net, defense.gov, navy.mil, news. barrett.net.
Repost and share with friends!