Missile system with a range of up to 500 km: what is known about the Ukrainian “Thunder”, which is feared in Moscow


From time to time, there is talk in the Ukrainian information space about the use of a Ukrainian missile system called Grom at the front. First, some military experts attributed to him the attack on the Russian military airfield in Saki on August 9, 2022, then the attack on Feodosia on April 8, 2023. And on March 30, the Russian Ministry of Defense officially announced for the first time that it had destroyed the Ukrainian operational-tactical missile Grom-2.

OBOZREVATEL figured out what kind of operational-tactical missile system it was, which officially does not yet exist, but it already instills fear and panic in Russians right up to Moscow.

"Grom-2" at the Independence Parade on August 24, 2018

Historical prerequisites for the appearance

In Ukraine, back in the early 1990s, there were quite interesting developments in this direction, but chronic lack of money, and sometimes outright sabotage by government officials, led to the fact that in 2014, in fact, we had to start almost from scratch.

The first Ukrainian operational-tactical missile system capable of delivering strikes at short (about 100 km) and medium (up to 500 km) distances was supposed to be the Borysfen OTRK. Work on it began back in 1994, but due to lack of funding, the work did not progress further than sketches, and in 2003 work on the project was stopped altogether (then Prime Minister of Ukraine was Viktor Yanukovych).

Render of OTRK "Borisfen"

Thus, due to organizational and financial difficulties, the Borisfen OTRK project became outdated even at the “paper” stage, and in 2006, at the initiative of then President Viktor Yushchenko, a strategic decision was made to create a new project based on his sketches, called “Sapsan”.

The first sketch of the OTRK "Sapsan"

According to the original idea, “Sapsan” was supposed to combine the properties of multiple launch rocket systems, tactical and operational-tactical complexes. It should hit a target at a distance of up to 500 km and keep the Russian capital at gunpoint (the distance from the Ukrainian border to Moscow is approximately 480 km).

The distance from the Ukrainian border to Moscow is less than 500 km

The new operational-tactical missile was planned to be put into service in 2011, but the traditional lack of funding and political contradictions between the branches of government prevented it.

So, in 2009, the Ukrainian design bureau completed the preliminary design of the Sapsan OTRK, but the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine rejected it (Prime Minister – Yulia Tymoshenko, Acting Minister of Defense – Valery Ivashchenko). And since 2010, when Viktor Yanukovych became president of Ukraine, work has actually stopped. On June 26, 2013, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine and citizen of the Russian Federation Pavel Lebedev officially announced that the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine had abandoned the Sapsan project.

After the victory of the Revolution of Dignity and Russian aggression in 2014, the issue of completing the development of the Sapsan complex was again on the agenda. In 2016-2018, many experts assumed that the Sapsan project found its implementation in the Grom-2 missile system, which was demonstrated on August 24, 2018 at the military parade dedicated to the Independence Day of Ukraine (why the name is Grom-2 – it is not known exactly; it is only known that in 2013 the same project was exhibited at an arms exhibition under the name simply “Thunder”).

For obvious reasons, there is still no exact official information about whether Sapsan and Grom-2 are the same project, or are they different developments – the project is classified as far as possible in modern realities. The opinions of military experts are divided: some suggest that the Grom-2 is an export version of the Sapsan, while others develop the theory that the Grom-2 will have a flight range of 500 km, and the Sapsan – almost 2000 km.

What is “Grom-2” today

In 2015, information appeared that Saudi Arabia and Ukraine were negotiating a contract for the purchase of Ukrainian tactical missile systems “Grom-2” with the involvement of finance for design development. Subsequently, Saudi Arabia transferred about $40 million for the corresponding modifications of this missile system, which actually launched this project (it seems that the version of the export name Grom-2 grows from here).

In December 2015, the then Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Turchynov said that a full-cycle production is being created around the Grom-2 project, from rocket fuel to the missile warhead, which will be the best standard among operational-tactical missiles existing in the world. He noted that the OTRK will almost entirely consist of Ukrainian components and its development and manufacture will involve the cooperation of almost 50 domestic enterprises.

On August 30, 2016, the press service of one of the domestic design bureaus disseminated information that Ukraine was starting to develop the latest Grom-2 operational-tactical missile system, and on January 2, 2018, information appeared about its readiness for testing.

It was expected that in the fall of 2019, Grom-2 would pass state tests, and from 2022 it would begin to enter service. But things did not go further than a single copy, which, starting from 2018, traveled from year to year along Khreshchatyk during the military parade on Independence Day.

"Thunder-2" at the Independence Parade on August 24, 2018

In February 2021, according to the information of the then Minister of Defense Andrei Taran, the Grom-2 project, or Sapsan, was just over 80% ready. The reason (and this is not even funny anymore) is the lack of funding.

In March 2023, the current Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov said in an interview that he plans to complete the creation of the Grom-2/Sapsan missile system this year.

“I think this is a very realistic chance. I would call it a plan. I personally recently visited the production site and looked at certain elements of this program, so I am optimistic about the implementation of this plan,” Reznikov said.

Released specifications OTRK “Grom-2”

In open sources, you can find information that “Grom-2” is an operational-tactical complex with high hit accuracy and missile defense passability of more than 96%. This is achieved due to the fact that these missiles are capable of flying not only along a predictable ballistic trajectory, but also along an aeroballistic one – changing the trajectory unpredictably during the flight, which guarantees a breakthrough of all existing air defense systems, even Russian S-300 and S-400. That is, this is a kind of improved version of the Russian Iskander.

It is also known that the onboard control system of the rocket is inertial, equipped with navigation systems and various types of pickups (radar, optoelectronic).

The warhead of a single-stage ballistic missile is designed with a mass of 480 kg. The monoblock circuit uses a high-explosive fragmentation or penetrating high-explosive fragmentation ampoule. The weight of the warhead allows us to say that it is capable of destroying the enemy in an area of ​​10 thousand square meters. m when using a cluster charge, or on an area of ​​​​2-3 hectares with a conventional high-explosive fragmentation charge.

The authors of the project emphasize that the Grom-2 complex is adapted for firing both ballistic and cruise missiles, which makes it universal and suitable for both air defense and coast guard, and also allows it to be used as a long-range operational-tactical complex .

The minimum firing range of this complex is 50 km, the maximum is 280 km in the export version and 350 km for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (this is due to the “Missile Technology Control Regime”, which prohibits the sale of longer-range ground-to-ground missiles to foreign states). However, according to available information from a number of sources, 350 km is the “legal” range (prescribed according to existing legal restrictions), and the actual range of Grom-2 can be up to 500 km.

Thus, the Grom-2 tactical missile system was regarded as a powerful means of non-nuclear deterrence of an aggressor. And who knows how history would have turned if the money had been found to complete the project before February 24, 2022…

OTRK "Grom-2"

Instead of conclusions

So, as we can see, officially neither the Grom-2 OTRK nor the Sapsan OTRK exist yet, but the fame of their victories is already confidently spreading on the Internet. Of course, it cannot be ruled out that the final tests of the Grom-2/Sapsan missiles were carried out in combat conditions, using Russian military installations in Crimea as targets. There is a certain meaning in this. But it is better to wait for official information.

And the concern of the Russian Ministry of Defense is understandable. After all, if Ukraine really managed to bring this project to combat standards, then such a concept as a “safe distance” has lost its meaning not only in the Donbass or in the Crimea, but also in Moscow.

We have only verified information in the Obozrevatel Telegram channel and in Viber . Don’t fall for fakes!


  1. “chronic lack of money” …”outright sabotage by government officials” … “project was stopped by the Prime Minister of Ukraine” …”organizational and financial difficulties” … finally … “December 2015 …a full-cycle production is being created”, and here we are in 2023.

    Of course this is all Biden’s fault that the Ukraine hasn’t done what it could to protect itself, or so the commenter’s on this site must believe.

    If Biden is as slow and inept as commenters here regularly suggest, then what is wrong with the Ukrainians?

    I am sorry but it isn’t a conservative position to expect others to take care of you when you aren’t taking care of yourself.

    • Your comment is a double-edged sword. Of course, Ukraine for years had been hampered by corruption and inefficiency. Not a single person on here will ever deny this. On the other hand, Ukraine was pressured to agree with the Budapest memorandum, which everyone gladly ignored, especially mafia land when it pissed on it in 2014. What about that, Mr. Honestly? Besides all that, what we do in Ukraine is being closely monitored in China, India, NK, Iran and elsewhere. What is your opinion about that?

      • I think that the May 21 1992 Russian parliament resolution which retroactively declared the 1954 Soviet decision to cede Crimea to Ukraine illegal certainly pressured Ukraine to seek security assurances of the type the US was unwilling to provide. I think perhaps China, India, NK, Iran will conclude that if they want to be part of the international economy that they shouldn’t invade a neighbor, and that if they do, then the US will likely provide a truly enormous amount of military assistance to whomever they invade.

        • The real pressure to surrender its nukes came from the West. Ukraine would’ve faced sanctions and perhaps even have faced a withdrawal of diplomatic recognition by the United States and other Western nations.

          “…and that if they do, then the US will likely provide a truly enormous amount of military assistance to whomever they invade.”

          This is not the message that the US has sent to the world with its activities in Ukraine.

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