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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Russia’s Rocket Attacks Against Ukraine ‘Deliver Doom’

Rocket Russia
Russian Tornado-S Rocket Launcher. Image Credit: Rostec.

Russian Rocket Attacks Shock Ukrainian Civilians – The Russians are using deadly multiple-launch rocket system attacks in surrounding cities such as Kharkiv where civilians are being targeted. This is spreading terror with people across Ukraine witnessing horrifying attacks that are taking their toll on non-combatants. The Russian Tornado is one such multiple-launch rocket system that is unleashing destruction and inflicting heavy casualties against civilians. These attacks have resulted in a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court.

Rocket Barrages Started Early

Rocket attacks started at the beginning of the war. One target was a residential area in Kharkiv where nine people died and 37 were wounded including the deaths of three children on February 28.

The mayor of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, was aghast.

“Today we had a very difficult day. It showed us that it’s not just a war, this is a massacre of Ukrainian people,” Terekhov said on a messaging app in an interview with The Guardian. “The rockets hit residential buildings, killing and injuring peaceful civilians. Kharkiv has not seen such damage for a very long time. And this is horrible,” he said.

New Tornado-S Is Particularly Scary

One system that can cause this type of destruction is the Tornado-S, which is itself an upgrade over the lethal BM-30 Smerch multiple rocket launcher. The Tornado-S has a better range and accuracy compared to the Smerch system. The Tornado-S is that much more fearsome because its rockets have an altimeter fuse. This allows the rocket to detonate above the ground raining explosive fragments and shrapnel that can rip apart a building, vehicle, or person. It can also hit moving targets.

The baseline Tornado has been in service since 2014 and the Tornado-S will be a substantial upgrade that will replace the BM-27 Uragan multiple rocket launcher in the coming years.

Baseline Tornado Deliver Doom

The current Tornado fires 300mm rockets. The 8X8 truck-mounted system is highly-mobile with a lighter chassis. It can fire several types of rockets with warheads such as high-explosive fragmentary, cluster, and the horrifying thermobaric flamethrower weapon. The rockets are 25-feet long and weigh 1,763-pounds. Their range is 43-miles so that size and strike radius gives you an idea of how much damage they can cause.

The Tornado needs only two soldiers to operate the system. They can initiate a launch sequence within minutes after stopping without leaving the inside of the vehicle.

Civilian Casualties Are Shocking the International Community

A rocket attack this week destroyed a television tower in Kyiv that resulted in five dead civilians. Meanwhile, Kharkiv endured another deadly rocket bombardment on a neighborhood, opera house, and a government building that killed at least 19.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is becoming frustrated with the rocket attacks that are killing non-combatants.

“This attack on Kharkiv is a war crime,” he tweeted. “This is state terrorism of the Russian Federation. After that, Russia is a terrorist state . . . We demand full responsibility for terrorists in international courts.”

Rocket Attacks Spur War Crime Investigation

The International Criminal Court is taking these rocket attacks against non-combatants seriously. The ICC is conducting an investigation into Russian war crimes. Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the ICC explained, will be able to expedite the investigatory process because 39 countries have already referred complaints of war crimes to the ICC.

Russia will likely continue to use multiple-launch rocket attacks against civilians. The Tornado family of rocket launchers is particularly deadly. Look for more rocket attacks to hit Kharkiv, Mariupol, and especially Kyiv if it becomes surrounded by the Russians in the coming weeks.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.