A rather unique weapon employed by the Peshmerga is the 20mm Giat 53T2 auto-cannon gifted to the Kurds by the French. It has been deployed to every location of conflict on the Iraqi-Kurdistan border, engaging Daesh fighters distances unheard of for Kalashnikovs and unrealistic for DShKs. Its arsenal of ammunition variations makes it a formidable force multiplier in wide array of situations; from armor piercing, APDS (a type of discarding fin based round), and explosive tipped rounds mounted on a dual box fed belt system, solutions come easy.

The Gun initially being designed for anti-aircraft use has been adapted to berm warfare use. Its weight of a mere 1850lbs (considerably light for an auto-cannon) makes it ideal for mounting on truck beds of a larger class used by Kurdish forces, i.e. not a Toyota Hilux. With a dual feed design and 2×100 round boxes the gunner can switch between belts/ammunition types with the flip of a switch, seamlessly transitioning between target types. It features a clear anti-aircraft reticle and full visor style optic mounted in front of an adjustable bucket seat, beneath the optic there is a control handle that when tilted the gun will shift its aim accordingly. A three man crew is needed to efficiently operate it; the gunner will adjust and fire using a right footed peddle for a trigger, an assistant gunner to load and maintain the gun, and a third man to maintain and run the engines as well as spot for the gunner if needed. These weapons cost around 30,000 U.S. dollars and have upwards of a 100 individual parts for the gun alone; a Peshmerga soldier must be specially trained for this weapon’s use and maintenance.

20mm parts strip

Ammo is scarce and the Pesh are smart to stock up, only using the weapon when it counts or it’s absolutely necessary. They construct large armored shields to protect the gun crew while they operate the machine and stand by for a target during battle. When it fires, your body shakes from the sheer concussive power. The explosive tipped rounds level soft targets and the armor piercing ones zip through hard targets with a loud smack, a cloud of dust kicking up behind them. It’s probably one of the most impressive weapons I’ve seen as far as performance and results go.

20mm rounds

The following footage is from a test of the 20mm canon at a 300m range. Two destroyed T55 tanks and one armored personnel carrier are being used as targets, giving a good idea of the weapon’s capabilities against ground based targets rather than its intended aircraft targets.

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