​Ukrainian Territorial Defense Trains With Soviet SPG-9 Grenade Launchers

Servicemen of Kharkiv Territorial Defense train with SPG-9 grenade launchers / Photo credit: the 229th Battalion of the 127th Brigade of Kharkiv Territorial Defense
Servicemen of Kharkiv Territorial Defense train with SPG-9 grenade launchers / Photo credit: the 229th Battalion of the 127th Brigade of Kharkiv Territorial Defense

We continue to overview Ukraine’s arsenal via open source information

Strategic Communications of the Ukrainian Armed Forces released some photos from one of the troops’ trainings. Territorial Defense of northeastern city Kharkiv is improving skills to effectively deter russian invasion.

Let’s recall that Territorial Defense has officially become part of Ukraine’s armed forces only recently, and many of the servicemen in its ranks had been civilians with little to no combat experience. Since then, they’ve grown to a powerful branch of the Ukrainian military.

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Now back to Kharkiv’s defenders. We have already seen these troops training on AZP S-60 anti-aircraft guns, and now the latest photos feature servicemen of the 229th Battalion of Kharkiv Territorial Defense learning with SPG-9 heavy grenade launchers.

The SPG-9 "Kopye" ("Lance") is a recoilless anti-tank grenade launcher made in the Soviet Union in the 1960s.

According to Modern Firearms, these weapons have been phased out by more effective anti-tank guided missiles but modern variants of these guns are still produced, for example, in Bulgaria – the 73 mm ARSENAL ATGL-H Family.

Capabilities overview:
Caliber73 mm
Length2.11 m
Weight59,5 kg (with tripod)
Effective fire range800 m
Maximum fire range1 300 m (HEAT), 4,500 (HE-FRAG)
Maximum rate of fire6 rounds per minute

Being a heavy mounted gun, it has some advantages when compared to man-portable systems. If compared to the widely used RPG-7 portable grenade launcher, it fires almost twice as large caliber projectiles and twice further, too.

Screenshot: the 229th Battalion of the 127th Brigade of Kharkiv Territorial Defense

As we can see on the photos, operating an SPG-9 requires a crew of at least two soldiers. The projectiles used on the video are the OG-9 anti-personnel grenades, which is interesting since the primary use of the SPG-9 weapon is against tanks and other armored equipment.

It should be noted at this point that SPG-9 can fire either PG-9 high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) grenades or high-explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) anti-personnel grenades.

Projectiles of OG-9 type are "intended for use against manpower of the enemy located in the open, in trenches, field type shelters or brick structures" – Kintex Co.

Screenshot: the 229th Battalion of the 127th Brigade of Kharkiv Territorial Defense / Image: Collective Awareness to Unexploded Ordnance / Edit: Defense Express

It doesn’t seem like Ukraine has no anti-tank piercing PG-9 projectiles. According to the Insider, Poland has sent some indefinite ammunition for SPG-9 in February-March. As Defense Express reported earlier, Polish specialized media suggest those could be PG-9s.

As a possible explanation, Ukrainian troops are saving their anti-tank munitions for russian invaders, while training on excessive fragmentation grenades instead. There is also a possibility that some details remained behind the scenes.

Read more: ​Poland Has Sent Over 240 Tanks, $2 Billion Worth of Weapons to Ukraine – Andrzej Duda