Officially decommissioned Russian rocket system was captured in Ukraine

Nov 13, 2022

Ukrainian Air Assault Forces acquired a damaged self-propelled multiple rocket system. However, this is not another BM-21 Grad, but a lighter version that is not officially used by the Russian troops.

In the Kherson region, Ukrainian soldiers acquired a 122 mm multiple rocket launcher, but this is not a typical BM-21, but its scaled-down version of the 9P138 Grad-1. It was created with a view to the lower ranks of the rocket artillery in the USSR.

It is not currently “in service” with the Russian army, meaning it is a vehicle taken from a shallow reserve or supplied by 3rd tier units. This is the second documented loss of the Russians in this type of military equipment, but the mere appearance of another unit, combined with increasing losses in the BM-21, could mean the return to service of more of these lighter varieties of Grads.

Homemade 122mm Grad

Homemade 122mm mobile multiple rocket launcher [MRL] appeared in photos shared on social networks on June 28 this year.

Photo credit: Twitter

The rocket system consists of only two rocket tubes, usually used for irregular “shoot and scoot” operations, attached to a configured and tubular main body. The entire missile system is integrated on a most likely Soviet UAZ pickup. The firing angle of the two rocket tubes is adjusted using a self-winding helical cylindrical lever at the end of which there is a welded homemade rudder.

The two missile tubes, part of the entire homemade missile system, are from a captured Soviet BM-21 Grad self-propelled 122 mm multiple rocket launcher. In its original configuration, each of the 40 tubes of the Soviet rocket system fired up to two artillery shells in a second.

In the Ukrainian homemade configuration it is clear that this is impossible to achieve, as well as the muzzle velocity of the system, which in the original Soviet version was 690 m / s [2,264 ft / s]. Each 2.87-meter [9 ft 5 in] rocket is slowly spun by rifling in its tube as it exits, which along with its primary fin stabilization keeps it on course.

About 0P138 Grad-1

The 9P138 Grad-1 is a 122-mm self-propelled multiple-charge rocket launcher deployed by the USSR troops in 1974. It is a lighter version of the BM-21 Grad system intended for regimental rocket artillery units.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

It is characterized by the use of a different chassis in the form of a Zil-131 truck, rather than the Urala-375D. In addition, it has a smaller number of tube launchers / guides compared to the standard Grad, amounting to 36 [in the BM-21 it is 40]. Moreover, this version usually uses other types of effectors, of the same caliber, but with a smaller range of 15 km [not 20 km].

The shorter range of the missile is compensated by a larger warhead. The time required to fire a full salvo of 36 missiles is 18 seconds. According to the “Military Balance 2021” report, the Russians should have about 420 systems of this type in reserve.

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

On 21 February 2022, the Russian government claimed that Ukrainian shelling had destroyed an FSB border facility on the Russia Ukraine border. Moscow also claimed that it had killed 5 Ukrainian soldiers who tried to cross into Russian territory. Ukraine denied being involved in both incidents and called them a false flag.

On the same day, the Russian government formally recognized the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR as independent states. According to Putin not only in their de-facto controlled areas, but the Ukrainian Oblasts as a whole. Putin ordered Russian troops, including tanks, to enter the regions.

Photo credit: milinme

On 24 February 2022, Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine by Russian Armed Forces previously concentrated along the border. The invasion followed by targeted airstrikes of military buildings in the country. The invasion followed also by targeted tanks entering via Belarus border.

Russia has so far not recognized the invasion of Ukraine as a “war”, although that is exactly what it is, claiming that it is a “special military operation”. According to the UN, in which Russia has its permanent representation, for military action to be defined as a “special military operation”, it must have a resolution issued by the UN. There is no such resolution, which automatically defines the military actions of the Russians as an invasion and war against the citizens of Ukraine.

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