New photographs show troops with an American version of the RPG-7
On May 7, the Ukrainian National Guard’s Facebook page shared a handful of photographs and a video showing soldiers training with weapons, including the American-made PSRL-1 rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a modified version of the RPG-7. The PSRL-1 is manufactured by the Texas-based company AirTronicUSA.
What do these photographs and videos tell us about Ukraine’s weapon modernization and the use of American-made weapons in their armed forces?
First Presidential Brigade
The unit training with these American-made weapons, the so-called “First Presidential Brigade”, is located relatively far from the front line in Kyiv.
Social media photographs from soldiers of this military unit showed the PSRL-1s on base in November 2017.
While this brigade is stationed in the outskirts of Kyiv, its troops have previously fought in the war in the country’s east, particularly in the August 2014 Battle of Ilovaysk.
Previous Appearance in Ukraine
The PSRL-1 was first delivered to Ukraine in 2017 after a contract was drawn up between AirTronicUSA and the Ukrainian government in 2016, which agreed upon the sale of 100 PSRL-1 systems at $5,454.75 per unit, for a total of $554,575. The @DFRLab previously reported on this delivery of American-made systems to Ukraine last year, along with the controversial group that first became acquainted with them near Mariupol.
The far-right Azov Battalion, which was integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard and is based near Mariupol, was one of the first Ukrainian groups to train with the PSRL-1 system. The website of the Azov Battalion, Azov.Press, shared several photographs of their troops training with these rocket-propelled grenade launchers in the summer of 2017.
Comparing the PSRL-1 from last week’s Facebook post with the system in the Azov photographs shows that they were clearly the same type of weapon.
Though Ukraine has made significant strides in modernizing its military from internal innovations, the integration of these American-made PSRL-1 systems, along with the recent arrival of American-made Javelin anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) systems, shows that Western military assistance is more than just symbolic. In particular, the PSRL-1 systems are easier to integrate into Ukrainian military units due to the fact that they are upgraded versions of the Soviet-made RPG-7, which has long been a staple in Ukrainian armories.
Thus far, the @DFRLab has not seen any legitimate photographs or videos showing the use of Javelin missiles in training with Ukrainian forces. We will continue to monitor the use of American and Western-provided weapons in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
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