The UPK-23 is a basic and powerful gun pod of Soviet origin. It was developed in the 1970's to provide the Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter with more firepower and can be used on most fighter aircraft as well. The UPK-23 sometimes referred to as the UPK-23-250 with the number 23 denoting its 23mm caliber and the 250 being its ammunition capacity. The name UPK stands for Unifitsirovannyj Pushechnyj Kontejner
, which is Russian for universal gun pod
The UPK-23 is a gun pod of a fairly simple design. The round aerodynamic pod houses a single fixed twin barrel GSh-23L autocannon at the front and associated ammunition at the rear. For operation the pod requires external power which is provided by the aircraft. Since the cannon is fixed it is aimed by pointing the aircraft in the direction of the target. Compared to the SPPU-22 pod with similar but flexible armament the UPK-23 is much lighter.
The UPK-23 features a single twin barrel GSh-23L autocannon and 250 rounds of 23x115mm ammunition. The cyclic rate of fire is 3.000 rpm and the maximum effective range is 2 km. The 23mm rounds are effective against infantry, soft skin vehicles and light armored vehicles.
The UPK-23 is most commonly found on the Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter and armed version of the Mi-8 Hip transport helicopter, but is used ground attack fighters such as the Su-17, Su-25 and MiG-23 as well. For fixed wing aircraft the slightly heavier SPPU-22 gun pod with flexible armement usually is a better option. The UPK-23 remains available although it is unknown if these are newly produced or refurbished pods.