Video footage shared online this week shows three Ukrainian 9M79-1 Tochka-U ballistic missiles being fired from the middle of a farm field. The missiles show the sheer power of even the older Soviet-era weapons currently being used in Ukraine.
In the clip, which you can view below, the missiles can be seen firing in quick succession. The first two missiles on the right fire within roughly one second of one another, while the third missile takes an additional few seconds to launch. The missiles are seen being quickly moved into launch position, before firing at more than 45 degrees into the air.
The rockets leave behind large plumes of smoke, while the camera points to a soldier holding a Stinger man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD) designed to protect the launch site.
What Is the Tochka Missile?
Also known as the “Scarab,” the Tochka missile is a short-range ballistic missile. Designed to replace the Free Rocket Over Ground (FROG) missiles, the weapon was built during the Soviet era and delivers a single 482kg payload.
The missiles can be fitted with HE, chemical or nuclear warheads. In this case, the ballistic missiles will have been fitted with regular munitions, rather than chemical or nuclear warheads.
The Scarab A variation of the missile can travel as far as 70km, while the Scarab B can travel as far as 120km.
Russia Repeatedly Thwarts Tochka Attacks
Tochka missiles have been intercepted by Russian air defense systems repeatedly throughout the war.
One of the downsides of using older Soviet-era equipment is that they are typically easier to intercept with modern weapons. They are also generally less precise than modern precision-guided missiles.
Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov stated on June 5 that Russian air defenses had intercepted two Ukrainian Tochka-U ballistic missiles in the Nikolayevsk Region.
“Two Tocka-U ballistic missiles were intercepted in the air over the Novogeorgiyevka community of the Nikolayevsk Region, while three projectiles, launched with the use of Uragan multiple launch rocket systems [MLRS], were eliminated over the community areas of Sukhaya Kamenka, Dolgenkoye and Kamenka in the Kharkiv Region,” the Russian official said at the time.
#Ukraine: The cause of some of the recent strikes against Russian targets deep in occupied territory: No less than 3 Ukrainian 9M79-1 Tochka-U ballistic missiles seen launching.
Note Stinger MANPADS to take out possible Russian UAVs that could guide fire onto the launch site. pic.twitter.com/ZkhnYCfKeC
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) June 23, 2022
On June 19, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that air defenses intercepted an additional four ballistic missiles, as well as 24 Uragan rockets. The missiles were fired at the Almaznaya, Kalinovo, and Stakhanov regions within the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic.
The missiles have, however, been used to strike a military base inside of Russian territory.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.