NewsUkraine surprises military world with highly effective Viktor anti-aircraft system

Ukraine surprises military world with highly effective Viktor anti-aircraft system

"Deadly effective Viktor. The Ukrainians' idea surprised the military world again."
"Deadly effective Viktor. The Ukrainians' idea surprised the military world again."
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7:41 AM EST, November 20, 2023

In military operations, Ukrainians demonstrate tactics akin to those used by Arabs in the Middle East. For instance, they have launched the MR-2 Viktor anti-aircraft system, which is a robustly armed pick-up and an ingeniously crafted system designed to destroy drones. This lightweight, mobile, and lethally effective creation startled the military world afresh.

Drones are fast becoming a staple in military equipment. Their widespread use during the warfare in Ukraine has led to a paradigm shift in battlefield strategies.

Bigger drones such as Bayraktars and Orłany-10 are commonplace in the field, but the smaller 'bsl' drones, hard to detect and eliminate using available radars, are also on the rise. Devices like the Polish FlyEyes have proven particularly puzzling for Russian forces, who confuse them for large birds on the Pantsir-S1 complex.

Combatting drones effectively became a top priority for the Ukrainian army. This urgency increased when the Russians initiated air offensives using Iranian Shaheds, which led the Ukrainians to establish mobile anti-aircraft units armed with lightweight off-road vehicles, handheld missile launchers, and heavy machine guns, among other resources.

Czech and Dutch Enforcements

So far, approximately 400 such teams have been assembled, with more on the way. These units are spread out across Eastern Ukraine, particularly near the city outskirts, and relocate each night to intercept drone movements.

Ukrainians have significantly expanded their basement-level air defense in the beginning stages of the war. The escalating frequency of bombardment and widespread use of 'bsl' drones over the frontline areas have increased the demand for countermeasures, leading to assistance from the Czechs and the Dutch.

"Gift for Putin"

Buried under the wittily ironic name "gift for Putin," lies the Czech initiative for raising arms for Ukraine. The Czechs amassed over 4 million dollars to purchase MR-2 Viktor light mobile anti-aircraft systems. The latest shipment of 115 ordered units has just reached Ukraine, 15 of which were part of the "gift." The Netherlands funded the rest. The first shipment made it to the front in June.

A first look at the system might seem primitive and reminiscent of a standard pickup loaded with a large-caliber machine gun ZPU-2 in the trunk.

This system seems like it was plucked straight from the Middle East or Central Africa, where diverse militias employ reliable trucks and equip them with available guns. But the Czech MR-2 Viktor brings to the table more than just heavy-duty weapon transport.

The Czech Viktor

Excalibur Army, a Czech manufacturer, built the MR-2 Viktor using the proven Soviet heavy machine gun KPW caliber 14.5 mm, a relic from World War II. It subsequently adapted into an anti-aircraft model with a range of around 1.2 miles. Capable of hitting targets moving up to 372 mph, it's more than sufficient for combat drones.

The Viktor also features a slightly modernized targeting system. Rather than merely an automatic aim scope with concentric metal rings and a crosshair, it offers a day and night periscope. The system has an ammunition capacity of 600 rounds and is mounted on a Toyota Land Cruiser 70 chassis.

"Allows for Accurate Targeting"

"Viktor anti-aircraft systems are easy to maintain and quite maneuverable. They can be effortlessly concealed at the firing point, and a rate of fire of around 600 shots per minute allows for accurate targeting of airborne targets at great distances. It's a potent weapon against Shaheds, especially with a thermal imaging sight and collimator target pointer," said Lieutenant General Serhij Naje, Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during an exhibition shooting with Viktor.

"The system is quite ergonomic and easily controlled during shootings. However, professional fire control and adjustments are crucial for hitting an airborne target. That's why we're currently undergoing intensive crew training," the general added.

Augmenting Protection

Viktors aim to supplement lower-level systems with various versions of the ZU-23-2 cannon caliber 23 mm, or those built around the Leopard 1 tank, fitted with twinned 35 mm Oerlikon cannons.

Because of its size and weight, the ZU-23-2 cannon typically mounts on trucks or armored personnel carriers. Ukrainians and Russians install these on MT-LB transporters, which are extremely helpful but significantly heavy and less mobile than lighter pickups.

For this reason, Viktors and similar tactical adaptations based on off-road vehicles should balance out heavy systems that move more sluggishly. This applies to the rear areas, where crew safety isn't as paramount. In contrast, Viktors lack any soldier protection, making their use on the front unfavorable. Nevertheless, they're highly suitable for in-country use.

The mobile anti-aircraft teams safeguarding Ukrainian cities have achieved an effectiveness level of 85% in annihilating drones. Once these teams become more saturated with short-range radar stations, the Russians could face a lethal clampdown on their drones.

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