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Ukraine develops local-made rocket launchers while waiting US & UK artillery systems

According to videos published on social networks, Ukrainian soldiers have developed local-made artillery systems using rocket launchers from BM-21 122mm MLRS or S-8 rocket launchers from Kamov Ka-52 helicopters mounted 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. (Picture source: Twitter video screenshot)

A first video was released on Twitter showing the integration of four launcher tubes mounted on a Unimog light truck. This improvised artillery vehicle is able to fire 122mm unguided rockets like the Soviet-made BM-21 MLRS does.

The integration of 122mm launcher tubes on standard civilian vehicles is very easy due to the use of unguided rockets that do not require a computerized aiming system. Its simplicity, combined with the ability to deliver massive firepower from a relatively light mobile platform has led to its rapid and widespread adoption.

Designed to deliver its munitions over an area rather than a point target, the 122mm rocket is thus not a precision weapon and can be fired at a range of 20 km. When a full salvo of 40 rockets is fired, the lethal area extends up to 600 m x 600 m. When the rockets explode on the ground, they produce a substantial fragmentation effect.

BM-21 type systems have been used by many armies and irregular forces and been deployed for various purposes and in configurations, based on large numbers of launcher vehicles, or even as individual launch tubes, used at the same time.

Various 122mm rockets have been developed including:

- 9M22U HE fragmentation rocket
- 9M521 HE fragmentation rocket with enhanced power warhead. In engaging targets, twice effective as 9M22U
- 9M522 HE fragmentation rocket with a separable warhead. In engaging targets, six effective as 9M22U
- 9M217 rocket with sensor-fuzed sub-munitions.
- 9M218 rocket with HEAT fragmentation sub-munitions.

Ukraine develops local made rocket launchers while wating US UK artillery systems 925 001
S-8 rocket launcher system mounted on a Mitsubishi pickup used by Ukrainian soldiers. (Picture source: VK Video Screen Shot)

The second vehicle developed by the Ukrainian army is also an artillery system using an S-8 rocket launcher system recuperated 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.

The S-8 rockets are unguided free-flight rockets. Hence, the launcher can easily be integrated into any civilian platform without using a particular sighting system. Targeting is achieved by simply pointing the launcher in the direction of the target.

A wide variety of warheads is available that include HEAT-Frag, anti-runway, thermobaric, illumination, and others. Depending on the warhead the maximum range is 2 to 4.5 km. A 20-round rocket pod can be ripple fired in only a few seconds.


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