Russian PKP Pecheneg machine gun was earlier spotted in the hands of Syrian Armed Forces soldiers back in 2015. The top image of this article is taken in 2015. Lately, another image appeared in the web (see the image below) showing this machine gun again with Syrian Armed Forces. Reportedly, Pecheneg was acquired by Syria even before the civil war. It was purchased in small numbers to arm some special forces units.
PKP Pecheneg is a general purpose machine gun chambered in 7.62x54mmR. It was designed in the late ’90s by a Russian company called TsNII TochMash. This gun is based on the PKM machine gun. Most machine guns of this category feature a quick change barrel which allows to change the heated barrel in the battlefield and keep shooting the gun with the new barrel. In the case of the Pecheneg, the designers’ goal was to get rid of the barrel changing mechanism without compromising the firepower. To achieve that goal, they had to develop a system that would allow cooling the barrel. They incorporated a forced air cooling system into the design of this machine gun. After each shot fired, the gasses escaping from the muzzle create a pumping effect forcing the air to enter the barrel jacket and pass through its length thus cooling the barrel. The barrel of PKP Pecheneg is also ribbed.
The barrel jacket also reduces the mirage coming from the heated barrel. Another difference from the PKM is the location of the bipod. Unlike the PKM, Pecheneg’s bipod is moved forward to the muzzle – much like it is seen in RPK light machine guns. Despite the described design changes, Pecheneg still has a high rate of parts compatibility with the PKM (up to 80%).
Below are several images of the PKP Pecheneg machine gun.