Photos have surfaced online reportedly showing F2000 assault rifles in the hands of Ukrainian armed forces. The photos also serve as yet another example of a somewhat rare small arm being put to use on the Ukrainian battlefield.
The two photos in question, both posted to Twitter, don’t offer much context in terms of the details surrounding the F2000 delivery. In one photo, a Ukrainian soldier in a nondescript uniform and location reclines alone with the weapon in hand. In the other image, three Ukrainian soldiers are photographed in varying uniforms holding the polymer-clad rifles while standing in front of a pick-up truck. There are few common denominators shared between the photos, with the F2000 being one of them.
Belgian company FN Herstal is the manufacturer of the F2000, which was produced by the company to address a need for a modern and modular assault rifle and was first debuted in 2001. The weapon features a compact bullpup layout, which means that the action and the chamber are located behind the trigger parallel to the shooter’s face as opposed to in front of it, as is with most modern military rifle designs. This not only reduces the length of the rifle, but it makes it an ideal rifle choice for ambidextrous shooters.
The F2000 can also be tailored with various additions to better fit the intended mission. An M303 underbarrel module could be fitted to fire tear gas canisters for peace-keeping operations, or the rifle could be equipped with 40mm FN EGLM grenade launchers and a proprietary computerized fire control system for more lethality. Although, none of these add-ons can be seen on the rifles in the photos.
It should also be noted that the rifles appear to be F2000 models in their original configurations. More recent iterations of the weapon designed for customers like Slovenia possess visibly different characteristics, which could further support the claim that Belgium is the supplier of the F2000s in question. The rifles were used to an extent in Poland and Spain, as well, serving as additional potential sources for the delivery. The remaining known buyers of the F2000s are in the Middle East and Asia, which are not known to be among the countries that have donated weapons to supplement Ukrainian forces.
In the tweet posted by Ukraine Weapons Tracker, which is a Twitter account run by individuals that track publicly available information regarding weapons and other equipment used in the conflict, it is mentioned that Ukraine has received 10,000 rifles from Belgium, including SCAR-L and FNC. Although, it is unclear whether or not F2000 assault rifles were included in that donation.
While it is confirmed that Belgium has donated 5,000 FNC-type assault rifles, 200 anti-tank weapons, and 3,800 tons of fuel to the Ukrainian government, there has been no official mention of SCAR-L deliveries much less an F2000 shipment. However, both SCAR-L and F2000 rifles have been photographed on Ukrainian soil and shared on social media.
The FNC-type assault rifles that are confirmed by the Belgian Ministry of Defense to have been donated are also designed by FN Herstal, which could further support the claim that Belgium had a hand in the sudden appearance of the F2000s on Ukrainian battlefields. These weapons are in the process of being gradually replaced by the FN SCAR-L, making it a logical choice to send to Ukraine as Belgium’s capability will not be hindered by the depletion of the stock.
Despite the quantity and means of delivery being up in the air, the sudden appearance of the F2000 rifles does underscore a strange sourcing trend that has become somewhat of a common occurrence. Prior to the conflict, members of Ukraine’s volunteer territorial defense forces were seen using a varied array of guns that individuals had sourced themselves. This odd development was brought on in response to a straightforward need for small arms.
As volunteers flooded into Ukraine, and as Ukraine’s militia ranks ballooned, the demand for rifles quickly began to outpace the supply. Thus, the guns sent over in foreign aid packages, like that of the FNC-type assault rifles mentioned earlier, have predictably begun to appear in these volunteer units. It will be interesting to see if the F2000s meet the same fate.
Ukraine’s armed forces are already strong proponents of polymer-covered bullpup designs. They make their own rifle called the Malyuk which is popular among Ukrainian special operations forces and they also build a version of Israel’s Tavor called the Fort-221 under license. You can read about both of those rifles in Ukrainian service here.
Needless to say, domestically supplied weapons are becoming harder to come by as the conflict rages on, reserves diminish, and demand increases. Otherwise rare, smaller arms are becoming less and less surprising to see on battleground, with Poland’s Grot C16A2 assault rifles having also made an appearance, for example.
There are also rumors of privately funded weapons buys occurring to equip volunteer forces.
While Ukrainian forces are surely making do with what they have, the sources through which they have acquired many of their weapons aren’t always clear. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the Ukrainian volunteers and militia members in need of small arms, and likely won’t anytime soon.
Contact the author: Emma@thewarzone.com