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New Zealand to train Ukrainian army to use 105mm L119 howitzer.

| 2022

According to information published by the New Zealand Herald on 23 May, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Defence Force personnel would send 30 troops to Britain to train Ukrainian forces on how to use the 105mm L119 light gun. They would stay in the UK until the end of July.
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Royal New Zealand Artillery during exercise Lightning Kiwi at Tekapo with an L119 Light Gun. (Picture source: NZDF)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand had been asked to help teach Ukrainians to use the guns, and Defence Force personnel would remain in the UK throughout the training. Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short said 230 Ukrainians would be trained and each training session would take about one week. Ardern said no further training request had been made.

The L118 light gun was originally designed and produced in England for the British Army in the 1970s. It has since been widely exported, including to the United States, where a modified version is known as the "M119 howitzer". The L118 uses the L19 ordnance on the L17 carriage. The L19 ordnance is slightly shorter than the L13 used by the Abbot and hence has a slightly shorter maximum range.

The light gun appears to owe a number of its features to the QF 25 pounder. Among these features are its vertically sliding block breech, and a box trail instead of a split trail; a traversing platform is normally used with it. Its comparatively light weight is also attributed to the nature of the steel used in the carriage and ordnance, and other weight-reducing features, including its narrow wheelbase.

The L119 variant has a different barrel (a slightly shorter L20 ordnance with a percussion firing mechanism) for firing the ubiquitous US M1 type ammunition (UK 105 mm How), giving the gun a maximum range of 11,400 metres (12,500 yd). In British service, the L119 was used only for training at the Royal School of Artillery while stocks of 105 mm How lasted, and the last British L119s were retired in 2005. However, the L119 is popular with many export customers – namely Ukraine which operates an unknown number of L119s – who still rely on M1 ammunition.

The 105 mm Fd Mk 2 ammunition has two propelling cartridges and a blank cartridge (for saluting purposes). The normal cartridge has six propellant increments (charges 1, 2, 3, 4, 4½, and 5). Charge 4½, which is charge 5 with the blue charge 3 bag removed, is peculiar to the light gun and is used only for high angle fire. A separate "charge super" cartridge is used for firing to maximum range. Both charge 5 and charge super project beyond the end of the metal cartridge case. Unlike the M1 ammunition, which is 'semi fixed' and loaded as a complete round, 105 mm Fd is 'separate, cased'; the shell is loaded and rammed by hand, then the cartridge with propellant is loaded. By the time the L118 entered service, propellant sub-zones A and B originally used with the Abbot had been replaced by an aerodynamic spoiler (a ring slipped over the nose of the shell to lodge on the ogive) to reduce the minimum range at high angle fire when this was required. The 105 mm Fd Mk 2 projectiles were the same as used with Abbot when the L118 was first introduced


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