A 23-second video shared on Twitter by Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) provided a bird’s eye view of the destruction of a Russian BM-21 Grad 122mm multiple rocket launcher in Kherson Oblast.
The vehicle was positioned off of a road near a line of trees when it was struck by Ukrainian counter-battery fire.
At the end of the brief clip, the BM-21 was seen smoldering. No Russian troops appeared to have survived the attack.
It is unclear from the footage what type of weapon struck the rocket launcher, but Ukraine has been employing its British-made M777 155mm howitzers in the region to great success.
The same drone that recorded the footage was likely used to help the Ukrainians target the BM-21, which would explain the pinpoint accuracy of the counter-battery fire.
The Ukrainians may have even employed the M982 Excalibur 155mm GPS-guided munition, which allows for accurate fire at a range of up to 40 km (25 miles).
History of the BM-21
Regardless of the weapon used, the video made it clear that the Russian military has one fewer BM-21 Grad in service.
First introduced in 1963, the self-propelled 122mm multiple rocket launcher is likely among the oldest ground systems currently deployed in the fighting in the war.
The BM-21 Grad was first used in combat in March 1969 during the Sino-Soviet border conflict and was subsequently used in the Second Indochina War (the Vietnam War), as well as in dozens of conflicts in Africa and Asia.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union produced nearly 100,000 launchers, which were widely exported to client states and insurgent forces around the world.
Despite the vast quantities produced, Russia was reported to have fewer than 1,000 in service as of 2012.
However, a significant number may have also been maintained in storage depots.
The platform has been upgraded as the modernized Grad-M, yet, only a few dozen of these platforms had been delivered to Kremlin forces before Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022.
The system was previously sent to Russian separatist forces in the Donbas region beginning in late 2014.
Kyiv also maintained around 185 of the BM-21s, but it is not known how many of those weapons have been deployed to the frontlines.
Each platform is equipped with forty 122mm barrels, and the Grad has a rate of fire of two rounds per second, with a range of 0.5 to 52 km. The launcher is mounted to a 6×6 wheeled truck chassis that has an operational range of 405 km. It can reach a maximum speed of 75 km/h on the road.
#Ukraine: Ukrainian counter-battery fire destroyed a Russian BM-21 Grad 122mm multiple rocket launcher in #Kherson Oblast. pic.twitter.com/aN0Lfa4QzK
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 17, 2023
Though the BM-21 Grad has a lower precision than gun artillery, and cannot be utilized in situations that call for pinpoint accuracy, it is considered an effective weapon for dissipating a large number of shells over an area.
However, as noted by the recent video, it may have failed to destroy its intended target and was then taken out in a pinpoint strike.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.