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Ukraine banks on vintage Soviet rocket launchers to support the counteroffensive against Putin’s invasion, report says

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Ukrainian servicemen from 24th brigade operate a BM-21 Grad near the frontlines of Toretsk, Ukraine on March 18, 2023.

Photo by Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukrainian troops are using a Soviet-era rocket launcher, the BM-21 Grad, to hit Putin’s forces.
The vintage weapon is called “grandma” by Ukrainian crews, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Grads are”not the most accurate” but are “effective for suppression fire,” said a military expert

Ukrainian commanders have been using Cold War-era rocket launchers to strike back against Russia in its counteroffensive, the Wall Street Journal reported

The BM-21 Grad, which was first developed in 1963, is one of many Soviet weapons that make up two-thirds of Ukraine’s artillery arsenal, the outlet said. 

Ukraine has more than 14 types of howitzers, and the highly-prized US-made missile launchers, called HIMARS. It has also captured more than 800 pieces of Russian artillery. But commanders are saving some of the most advanced weapons, including tanks donated by Western countries, and widely using the vintage BM-21 Grads to prosecute this summer’s slow-moving counteroffensive, the Journal reported.

The BMI-21 can fire 40 rockets in a range of 25 miles, the outlet reported, but is not effective for striking precise targets. 

Sunsil Nair, an analyst at Janes, a defense intelligence site, told the Journal that the weapon is “not the most accurate, or high on automation,” but said it is “effective for suppression fire.” 

“Picture 40 rockets falling in the target area within 20 seconds,” he added.

Human Rights Watch has warned that BM-21 Grads, which can strike an area the size of 10 football fields, pose a threat to civilians, via the Journal. 

Unlike HIMARS, which uses satellite navigation systems to guide rockets, the BM-21 Grad requires operators to load manually and position launchers, and operators in the driver’s cab have little protection, as per the Journal. 

“It is an old lady”

Ukrainian soldiers reload a Grad multiple-launch rocket vehicle in the Donetsk Oblast on November 17, 2022.

Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Battery Commander Volodymyr Sukhilov, of Ukraine’s 60th Brigade, told the Journal that one of the brigade’s six BM-21 Grads is 60 years old. 

“It is an old lady and has all [an old person’s] problems,” he told the Journal, which reported that others nicknamed the weapon “grandma.” 

He said although it often breaks down, the BM-21 Grad can fire many rockets over a short period, per the outlet. 

Operators within the 60th brigade told the Journal that they had few Western-donated weapons, and would like a HIMARS.

The weapon remains widely used by both Ukrainian and Russian forces, the Journal reported. At the start of the war, Ukraine held 260 BM-21 Grads, compared with Russia’s 500, according to Janes, via the outlet. 

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Ukrainian servicemen from 24th brigade operate a BM-21 Grad near the frontlines of Toretsk, Ukraine on March 18, 2023.

Photo by Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukrainian troops are using a Soviet-era rocket launcher, the BM-21 Grad, to hit Putin’s forces.
The vintage weapon is called “grandma” by Ukrainian crews, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Grads are”not the most accurate” but are “effective for suppression fire,” said a military expert

Ukrainian commanders have been using Cold War-era rocket launchers to strike back against Russia in its counteroffensive, the Wall Street Journal reported

The BM-21 Grad, which was first developed in 1963, is one of many Soviet weapons that make up two-thirds of Ukraine’s artillery arsenal, the outlet said. 

Ukraine has more than 14 types of howitzers, and the highly-prized US-made missile launchers, called HIMARS. It has also captured more than 800 pieces of Russian artillery. But commanders are saving some of the most advanced weapons, including tanks donated by Western countries, and widely using the vintage BM-21 Grads to prosecute this summer’s slow-moving counteroffensive, the Journal reported.

The BMI-21 can fire 40 rockets in a range of 25 miles, the outlet reported, but is not effective for striking precise targets. 

Sunsil Nair, an analyst at Janes, a defense intelligence site, told the Journal that the weapon is “not the most accurate, or high on automation,” but said it is “effective for suppression fire.” 

“Picture 40 rockets falling in the target area within 20 seconds,” he added.

Human Rights Watch has warned that BM-21 Grads, which can strike an area the size of 10 football fields, pose a threat to civilians, via the Journal. 

Unlike HIMARS, which uses satellite navigation systems to guide rockets, the BM-21 Grad requires operators to load manually and position launchers, and operators in the driver’s cab have little protection, as per the Journal. 

“It is an old lady”

Ukrainian soldiers reload a Grad multiple-launch rocket vehicle in the Donetsk Oblast on November 17, 2022.

Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Battery Commander Volodymyr Sukhilov, of Ukraine’s 60th Brigade, told the Journal that one of the brigade’s six BM-21 Grads is 60 years old. 

“It is an old lady and has all [an old person’s] problems,” he told the Journal, which reported that others nicknamed the weapon “grandma.” 

He said although it often breaks down, the BM-21 Grad can fire many rockets over a short period, per the outlet. 

Operators within the 60th brigade told the Journal that they had few Western-donated weapons, and would like a HIMARS.

The weapon remains widely used by both Ukrainian and Russian forces, the Journal reported. At the start of the war, Ukraine held 260 BM-21 Grads, compared with Russia’s 500, according to Janes, via the outlet. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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