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Ukrainian army reactivating early Cold War-era KS-19 100mm guns

As shown in a tweet posted on April 1 by Ukraine Weapons Tracker, the Ukrainian army started to use ancient KS-19 100mm anti-aircraft guns. Though initially designed to be used against air targets, now they are used against ground targets - in indirect and possibly direct fire mode. The first KS-19 guns entered service in 1947.
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KS-19 anti-aircraft gun deployed by the Ukrainian army (Picture source: screenshot from a video posted on Twitter account of Ukraine Weapons Tracker)

The huge losses in all kinds of modern military equipment endured by both the Russian and Ukrainian armies force them to take old combat vehicles and weapons out of storage where they have spent decades accumulating dust. Back to work! The Russian army appears in the worst situation.

Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian invasion have made good use of advanced, high-tech military hardware to inflict very punishing damage on Moscow's troops, but the bloody and grinding conflict has also seen a return of decades-old weapons that may seem out of place in the midst of modern warfare, Jake Epstein writes in Business Insider. For example, Ukrainian troops were recently spotted firing, possibly in training, decades-old anti-aircraft guns identified as KS-19 100 mm. The video was flagged by Ukraine Weapons Tracker, an open-source monitor for weapons used in the war in Ukraine. The low elevation of the KS-19s in the video speaks to the Ukrainians’ intentions. Maybe they mean to deploy the aged guns to the front line as traditional artillery, in a surface-to-surface role. Or maybe they’re just using the KS-19s to familiarize new gunners with the basic functions of a generic artillery piece.

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KS-19 anti-aircraft gun deployed by the Ukrainian army (Picture source: screenshot from a video posted on Twitter account of Ukraine Weapons Tracker)

The KS-19 is a Soviet-designed towed anti-aircraft gun firing 100mm caliber shells. It was introduced in 1947. It has a maximum firing range of approximately 15 km and can reach targets flying at up to 10 km. The gun can fire up to 15 rounds per minute with a variety of ammunition types: high explosive, armor-piercing, and fragmentation rounds. “Effective against light armor and other ground targets,” is how the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency described the KS-19 in 1969. It was widely used by the Soviet Union and its allies during the Cold War, and is still in use today by a number of countries around the world. Despite its age, the KS-19 remains a potent weapon on a modern battlefield.

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Soviet UOF-412 100mm rounds with OF-412 projectiles, which weigh 15.6 kg and pack ~1.5 kg of TNT. They have a maximum range when fired from the KS-19 of 19,950 meters. These rounds were manufactured in 1962 (Picture source: Twitter account of Ukraine Weapons Tracker)

Ukraine Weapons Tracker identified the rounds that were used by the Ukrainians as having been manufactured in the early 1960s. It added that the weapons will be used against ground targets, as opposed to their originally designated use against threats in the air. Task & Purpose reported that Russian KS-19s were previously spotted in Ukraine during Kyiv's blitz-style counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last fall.

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Many Ukrainian KS-19 were stored in Balakliya and some of them were apparently repurposed as decoy targets by Russians. The Ukrainian army captured some during the counter-offensive of Kharkiv, though they might be also from the arsenal in Balakliya (Picture source: Twitter account of Ukraine Weapons Tracker)

Ukrainian troops have been spotted using even older weapons, such as World War I-era Maxim machine guns which most probably come from a museum collection.

On its side, Russia has been forced to bring its old and obsolete military hardware out of storage to make up for significant battlefield losses, various media have shown. Some examples of this include Soviet-era tanks like the T-54/55 and T-62 tanks, as well as BTR-50 APCs. At the same time that the Ukrainians are reactivating 76-year-old KS-19s, the Russians are restoring some of their 2,000 stored T-12 100-millimeter anti-tank guns from 1953. Highlighting Russia's dependence on outdated weaponry, UK's Defense Ministry said in October 2022 that Russian reservists sent to fight in Ukraine were even arriving with rifles introduced in the late 1950s that were likely to be "barely usable" because they were stored in poor conditions, Jake Epstein reports.

Defense News April 2023

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