The 40-mm automatic anti-aircraft gun (AZP) Bofors L60, once developed by AB Bofors, has become a truly legendary and best-selling product of this Swedish concern. By 1939, the company exported Bofors L60 to 18 countries and made license agreements with 10 more countries. After all, this AZP was in service in more than 75 countries.
AZP uses a 0.907 kg high-explosive fragmentation projectile, which leaves the barrel at 881 m/s. The weight of the weapon in combat position reaches 1981 kg, and the barrel length is 2990 mm. The practical ceiling of the gun was about 3800 m, the range was more than 7160 m, the rate of fire of the Bofors L60 was 120 rounds per minute.
At the beginning of its production, the Bofors L60 automatic anti-aircraft gun was equipped with a modern aiming system for that time. Horizontal and vertical gunners had reflex sights, the third member of the calculation was behind them and worked with a mechanical calculation device.
In general, the Bofors L60 AZP had outstanding tactical and technical characteristics for that time. It is no coincidence that this weapon has been copied in many countries as well as licensed production. In this regard, it is worth noting that one of the largest copies of the Bofors L60 is the Soviet 37-mm automatic anti-aircraft gun 61-K.
During the Second World War, the Bofors L60 was considered the best anti-aircraft gun in the US Navy. It turned out to be the most effective way to fight Japanese aircraft, especially kamikaze aircraft. A direct hit from a 40mm fragmentation projectile was enough to destroy any Japanese aircraft used as a flying bomb.
However, despite all its glorious military biography, the time of the Bofors L60 anti-aircraft automatic gun has irrevocably passed, and the supply of this weapon is unlikely to seriously increase the combat capabilities of the Ukrainian armed forces.
In this regard, it is recommended to consider how the Ukrainian army can use their Bofors L60. To this end, it is necessary to analyze the experience of using small-caliber anti-aircraft artillery in previous military conflicts.
During the Soviet-Afghan war, in the conflicts in Libya and Syria, anti-aircraft automatic weapons, as a rule, were rarely used for their intended purpose – firing at air targets, but mainly for destroying ground targets.
Their high firing accuracy and rate of fire were used to increase the firepower of motorized rifle units. The main objects of destruction in this case were enemy firing points equipped with machine guns, including large-caliber ones.
For example, during the conflict in Afghanistan, enemy firing points were located in specially equipped caves in the upper layers of mountains or adobe buildings. To suppress them, Soviet troops used anti-aircraft guns. In some cases, the task of automatic anti-aircraft guns was to destroy lightly armored enemy targets. This is how anti-aircraft guns were most actively used during the civil war in Libya.
There is every reason to believe that the Ukrainian army will use Bofors L60 automatic anti-aircraft guns in a similar way.
As for the Bofors L60, which shoots at modern air targets, it is unlikely to be effective.
Also, firing at the Su-25 attack aircraft, for example, will require a large amount of ammunition. During previous local conflicts, up to 10,000 small-caliber anti-aircraft artillery shells were responsible for one downed aircraft. There are great doubts that ammunition for the Bofors L60 will be supplied to Ukraine in such quantities.
But even when firing at ground targets, the effectiveness of such ARZ will be relatively low due to the small-caliber and relatively small high-explosive fragmentation effect of a 40 mm projectile. So, in Afghanistan, the Soviet troops used the 57 mm ARZ to destroy ground targets, and this weapon has a significantly higher projectile efficiency than the 40 mm Bofors L60 artillery shell.
The author’s view may not coincide with the editors’ position.
Mikhail Mikhailovich Khodarenok is a military observer for socialbites.ca, a retired colonel.
Graduated from the Minsk Higher Engineering Anti-Aircraft Missile School (1976),
Air Defense Military Command Academy (1986).
Commander of the S-75 anti-aircraft missile battalion (1980–1983).
Deputy commander of an anti-aircraft missile regiment (1986-1988).
Senior officer of the Air Defense Forces Chief of Staff (1988-1992).
General Staff Main Operations Directorate Officer (1992-2000).
Graduate of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (1998).
Columnist for Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2000–2003), editor-in-chief of the Military Industrial Courier newspaper (2010–2015).