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Ukrainian soldiers upgrade M113 APC with ZSU-23-2 23mm air defense guns

On January 6, 2024, a video shared by NMFTE on Telegram showed a Ukrainian M113 armored personnel carrier equipped with a ZU-23-2 towed 23 mm anti-aircraft twin-barreled automatic cannon, indicating a practical approach to the utilization of existing military resources.
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The combination of a ZU-23-2 twin autocannon with an M113 APC has led to the creation of a mobile air defense system, which could also serve as an infantry support vehicle (Picture source: NMFTE, Vitaly Kuzmin and Mykhailo Fedorov)

The ZU-23-2 is a manually-aimed autocannon featuring a pair of 23 mm cannons and is designed for both air defense and ground support roles, offering a wide range of tactical applications. On the other hand, the M113 APC is known for its mobility and spaciousness, despite limitations in armor protection, and has been employed in various roles, including troop transport and medical evacuation.

The combination of ZU-23-2 autocannons with M113 APCs has led to the creation of a mobile air defense system capable of engaging aerial targets such as low-flying aircraft and drones, which could also serve as an infantry support vehicle. This method of retrofitting has been observed in other military forces, including the Egyptian and Lebanese militaries, Hezbollah, and the Kurdish YPG militia.

The ZU-23-2, also known as ZU-23, is a Soviet-era towed anti-aircraft twin-barreled automatic cannon developed in the late 1950s. It was designed for engaging low-flying aircraft, including helicopters and low-flying airplanes, as well as armored vehicles and for the direct defense of troops and strategic locations. The ZU-23-2 is still in use by the Russian Army and more than 20 other armies worldwide due to its cost-effectiveness and ease of operation. It is often mounted on trucks or tracked vehicles, and it can also be used in naval applications.

The ZU-23-2 is armed with two 23 mm autocannons and can engage low-flying targets at a range of 2.5 km, armored vehicles at a range of 2 km, and ground targets such as infantry and lightly armored vehicles. It can fire two types of fixed ammunition: armor-piercing-incendiary-tracer (API-T) and high-explosive incendiary-tracer (HEI-T). The weapon system is manually aimed and fired using an optical-mechanical sight and a straight-tube telescope.

In terms of mobility, the ZU-23-2, which remains a widely used anti-aircraft weapon system, can be towed by various vehicles and features a small trailer with rubber-tired road wheels that can be raised off the ground when in the firing position. It also has three screw-type leveling jacks for stability.

The M113 is a fully tracked armored personnel carrier (APC) that has been widely used worldwide since its introduction in the 1960s. Manufactured by BAE Systems, it primarily serves as a means of transportation for infantry in military operations. Its design incorporates a lightweight aluminum hull, allowing it to maneuver across different terrains, including bodies of water, making it versatile in its applications.

The M113 is known for its adaptability and has been modified to perform various roles, such as command and control, fire support, anti-tank missions, and more. It can carry up to 11 individuals, including a driver and a commander/gunner. The armament on the M113 can vary but often includes a .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun. Typically, the vehicle's layout includes a rear ramp for personnel entry and exit, as well as a top hatch for the commander and gunner. Despite its older design, the M113 has seen service in numerous conflicts worldwide and continues to be in use due to its established reliability and versatility.


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