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Automatic mortar 2B9 spotted in Ukraine in Russian forces

In a video released, on 17 August 2023, by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the automatic mortar 2B9 can be seen in action. This mortar system is unique because it operates with magazines and is capable of sustained fire thanks to its magazine system. This lesser-known equipment is what we will focus on.
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2B9 Vasilek automatic 82 mm gun-mortar (Picture source: Vidéo footage from Russian MoD )

Since its introduction in 1970 by the Soviet Union, the automatic mortar 2B9 Vasilek has been a key element in various conflicts, including the Soviet-Afghan War, the Syrian Civil War, the War in Donbas, and the Russo-Ukrainian War. It is manufactured by companies such as the Bolshevik Plant, Norinco, and Diósgyőri Gépgyár.

Weighing 632 kg, the 2B9 Vasilek is capable of firing 82 mm shells weighing 3.23 kg, with an initial velocity of 270 m/s. What really sets the Vasilek apart from its counterparts is its ability to fire at an impressive rate of 100 to 120 rounds per minute. This high rate of fire is particularly useful in close combat situations, where rapid firepower can be decisive.

The mortar can be either muzzle-loaded or breech-loaded, offering tactical flexibility to operators. With an elevation ranging from -1° to 85° and a traverse of 60°, the Vasilek offers great versatility in hitting targets in various terrain configurations. Its maximum firing range is 4,270 meters, making it effective for long-range bombardments. As for aiming, the Vasilek uses PAM-1 sighting devices with magnifications of 2.5x or 3x.

Nevertheless, the accuracy of this mortar is less than that of a traditional mortar, which requires recalculating coordinates after each shot. Given the automatic reloading system, it would be complete nonsense to recalculate coordinates after each shot, which makes the mortar much less accurate. It is often criticized for its lack of precision and its tendency to create collateral damage.

In Ukraine, Russian forces have primarily deployed the 2B9 in close combat scenarios, where its firepower can be maximized. Reports indicate that the weapon has been used to break Ukrainian defense lines, as well as for artillery bombardments in support of broader operations. An important detail in the video is that it also appears to have been mounted on a vehicle, drastically increasing its mobility.

The use of artillery in Ukraine is massive, so it's not surprising to see the 2B9 appear on the battlefield. Nevertheless, it remains interesting to see it in action and mounted on a vehicle.


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