Left side view of 23mm 2A14 autocannon.
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The 23mm 2A14 and 2A7 are early Cold War era autocannon of Soviet origin. These emerged from a design originally intended for aircraft use, but dropped in favor of the AM-23. The Afanasyev-Yakushev 23mm was adopted for soviet service as the air-cooled 2A14 and water-cooled 2A7. These were widely produced for anti-aircraft systems and remain in active service today.
The 2A14 is a single barrel gas operated autocannon. It is belt fed and can feed from either right or left hand side with minimal reconfiguration effort. The gun uses a vertical sliding block breech system. A quick change barrel mechanism is fitted, which can only be practically used by the air-cooled 2A14. The water-cooled 2A7 required the barrel to be connected with pipes to the cooling system.
The 2A14 was first introduced in 1960 on the ZU-23-2 twin barrel towed anti-aircraft gun. A single barrel ZU-1 was developed but was not produced in quantity due to lacking firepower while still being a heavy system. In 1964 the ZSU-23-4 was introduced, using four 2A7 water-cooled autocannon for a combined rate of fire of up to 4.000 rpm.
The AYa-23 fires the 23x152mm Soviet round, which was first used in the VYa-23 autocannon. A new range of projectiles with steel cased ammunition was developed with normally having three high explosive fragmentation rounds to one armor piercing incendiary round. Rate of fire is quite high at 850 to 1.000 rpm. These are normally fired in short bursts. The water cooled 2A7M can be fire for a maximum of 15 seconds before malfunctions occur. Early ZSU-23-4 had issues with runaway guns, with the chamber and breech becoming so hot that rounds are fired without striking the primer. Effective range is about 2.5 km against ground targets and up to 1.5 km in altitude.
Both ZU-23 and ZSU-23-4 were produced in large quantities for domestic Soviet use and large scale exports to many states around the world with close ties to the USSR. In most Cold War era conflicts these autocannon have seen use. In many present day conflicts these autocannon are still encountered. Especially the 2A14 is favored for mounting on technicals for use against ground targets.
Air-cooled variant of the AYa-23 autocannon. First introduced in 1960 on the ZU-23-2 towed anti-aircraft gun. The barrels are of a quick-change type and can be changed in about half a minute per barrel.
Water-cooled variant of the AYa-23 autocannon. First introduced in 1964 on the ZSU-23-4 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. For the ZSU-23-4M the 2A7M autocannon was introduced. Among the improvements are a barrel life of 4.500 round versus 3.000 rounds earlier.
The water-cooled 2A7 was developed for the Soviet ZSU-23-4 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, which mounts four of these autocannon.
The Soviet ZU-23-2 is a towed anti-aircraft gun mounting two air-cooled 2A14 autocannon.
The ZU-23-2 has seen many upgrades over the last centuries. The Polish ZUR-23-2S Jod is an example that adds surface to air missiles to the gun mount.
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