According to videos posted on social media, Ukrainian soldiers developed locally made artillery systems using rocket launchers from BM-21 122mm MLRS or S-8 rocket launchers from mounted Kamov Ka-52 helicopters on civilian vehicles such as a Unimog light truck or a Mitsubishi L-200 pickup truck.
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Four-tube 122mm rocket launcher system mounted on a Unimog light truck used by Ukrainian soldiers. (Image source: screenshot from Twitter video)
A first video was posted on Twitter showing the integration of four launch tubes mounted on a Unimog light truck. This improvised artillery vehicle is capable of firing 122 mm unguided rockets like the Soviet-made BM-21 MLRS does.
The integration of 122 mm launcher tubes on standard civilian vehicles is very easy thanks to the use of unguided rockets which do not require a computerized targeting system. Its simplicity, combined with the ability to deliver massive firepower from a relatively light mobile platform, led to its rapid and widespread adoption.
Designed to launch its ammunition at an area rather than a point target, the 122mm rocket is therefore not a precision weapon and can be fired at a distance of 20 km. When a full salvo of 40 rockets is fired, the lethal zone expands to 600mx 600m. When rockets explode on the ground, they produce a strong fragmentation effect.
BM-21 type systems have been used by many armies and irregular forces and have been deployed for various purposes and in configurations, based on a large number of launchers, or even as individual launch tubes, used at the same time.
Various 122 mm rockets have been developed, including:
– 9M22U HE fragmentation fuze
– 9M521 HE fragmentation fuze with improved power warhead. By engaging targets, twice effective as 9M22U
– 9M522 HE fragmentation fuze with separable warhead. By engaging targets, six effective as 9M22U
– 9M217 rocket with sensor submunitions.
– 9M218 rocket with HEAT fragmentation submunitions.
S-8 rocket launcher system mounted on a Mitsubishi pickup used by Ukrainian soldiers. (Image source: VK video screenshot)
The second vehicle developed by the Ukrainian army is also an artillery system using an S-8 rocket launcher system recovered from a Kamov Ka-52 helicopter and mounted on a Mitsubishi pickup truck. Like the 122mm rocket launcher system, the S-8 is a family of unguided rockets.
The S-8 is a rocket weapon developed by the Soviet Air Force for use by military aircraft. It remains in service with the Russian Air Force and various export customers.
S-8 rockets are unguided free-flight rockets. Thus, the launcher can easily be integrated into any civilian platform without using any special aiming system. Targeting is achieved by simply pointing the launcher in the direction of the target.
A wide variety of warheads are available including HEAT-Frag, Anti-Runway, Thermobaric, Illumination, and others. Depending on the warhead, the maximum range is 2-4.5 km. A 20-round rocket pod can be ripple-fired in just seconds.