UK has Procured Chinese AKs to Train Ukrainian Troops

    Ukrainian trainees conducting weapon drills (magazines off) with Type 56-1 (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

    In recent weeks we’ve examined how the UK has procured various 7.62x39mm AK-pattern rifles for use in training Ukrainian troops in the UK. The latest video and photographs from the training the UK is providing show that alongside the previously identified AK variants a number of Chinese Type 56-1 rifles have also been procured.

    Ukrainian Guns @ TFB:

    Ukrainian troops with Type 56-1s at the range undertaking marksmanship training and completing weapon handling tests and passing the ACMT live firing assessment (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

    On the 9th of July, the UK’s Ministry of Defence announced that as part of its agreement to train 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers, it had acquired a significant number of AK-pattern rifles. The MoD’s original press release stated:

    The Government has rapidly procured AK variant assault rifles for the training programme, meaning Ukrainian soldiers can train on the weapons they will be using on the front line. This effort was supported by the Welsh Guards, who tested more than 2,400 such rifles in 17 days to ensure they were ready for the Ukrainians to commence their training.

    Check out my video on the rifles here:

    From imagery published by the MoD we previously confirmed that the AKs procured included: Zastava M70 (or M70B)s, milled receiver M70As, folding stock M70AB2s, Hungarian FEG AK63Ds and East German MPi KMS-72s. The latest photographs released, which appear to have been taken in late July at Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA), show a type of rifle we haven’t seen previously – the Type 56-1.

    They show rifles with under-folding stocks, stamped receivers, rivet positions and enclosed front sights which indicate them to be Chinese Type 56-1s. Where did the UK procure these rifles from? While it has been suggested that the UK may have seized the rifles during operations to interdict the arming of Houthi rebels in an earlier statement to The Armourer’s Bench the MoD said that the rifles have been “rapidly procured… through a combination of international donations and private purchase.”

    Type 56-1

    Ukrainian trainees conducting weapon drills (magazines off) with Type 56-1 (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

    The same cadre training at SPTA were also seen undertaking Fighting In Built Up Areas (FIBUA) training with British L85A2 rifles. It is believed that the British bullpups are being used for exercises requiring blank firing due to a likely combination of a shortage of AK blank firing adaptors (BFAs), blank ammunition, and the AK BFAs not being deemed safe enough for British training areas. The MoD previously stated that the L85A2s and their BFAs were being used to ‘maintain strict safety conditions for both British and Ukrainian soldiers during training and to meet the urgency of the training requirement.’

    As with the other AK-pattern rifles procured by the UK for the training of Ukrainian personnel, the Type 56s won’t be returning to Ukraine with the trainee soldiers, the UK MoD has stated that they are providing uniforms, protective kits and other equipment but not individual weapons.

    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________

    TheFirearmBlog.com – Managing Editor
    OvertDefense.com – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]


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