The mortar as a battlefield weapon has been a mainstay of militaries for decades. In 1970, the Soviet Army introduced a new heavy-class "gun-mortar" as the 2B9 "Vasilek" - or "Cornflower". The system fired 82mm projectiles out to ranges of 4,270 meters reaching rates-of-fire up to 120 rounds-per-minute. With the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s-early 1990s, the weapon passed on to the modern Russian Army and the armies of Armenia and Ukraine. A foreign customer of the product became Syria.
For mobility, the 2B9 was set atop a heavy-duty, two-wheeled split-trail carriage system which allowed towing by mover vehicle or large-scale traversal adjustments by the crew (of at least four to six personnel). A sighting device allowed for more precise firing through up to 3x magnification. The launch tube could be loaded through its breech assembly or down the muzzle. The tube's mounting hardware held an inherent traverse span of 60-degrees to either side from center and an elevation span from -1 to +85 degrees. Each 82mm projectile weighed seven pounds. A recoil mechanism was fitted about the launch tube to contend with the forces at work. A circular baseplate was lowered prior to firing which raised the unit from its wheeled support while the rear of the system was suspended by the split-trail carriage arms.
Original Vasilek models were the 2B9 series and these were followed by a modernized form in 1983 designated as the "2B9M". In 1988, a vehicle-mounted form emerged for use on MT-LB Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) which broadened the tactical value of both vehicle and weapon considerably - very useful combination for the indirect fire support role.
The Vasilek weapon has been in constant use since its inception, being seen as recently as in the fighting of the Syrian Civil War (2011-????) (by both rebel elements and government forces) and in the Donbass Region of the Ukrainian Civil War (2014-????) (again by rebel elements and government forces).
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