On Wednesday, a video shared by the official Ukrainian Ministry of Defense social media account (@DefenceU) featured a roadside salvo conducted by an improvised Ukrainian MRL battery. Multiple vehicles could be seen as they fired off 122mm Grad rockets onto Russian positions.
Even as Kyiv’s forces are being supplied with U.S.-made HIMARS and Western-made armor including German Leopard 2 and British Challenger 2 main battle tanks, as well as other vehicles, it is common to see these domestically-produced improvised vehicles on the frontlines.
“We’ll fight them with everything we’ve got. Until they are gone,” @DefenceU noted in the caption of the 24-second-long video.
The exact location of the Ukrainian forces wasn’t made clear in the video, however.
Still, Kyiv has been increasingly trying to keep such details from being revealed as social media posts could make it too easy for Moscow to monitor Ukrainian troop movements, especially in advance of its expected spring counteroffensive.
Yet, both sides continue to engage in artillery duels in the Donbas region, especially near the besieged city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast.
The city continues to come under fire from both Ukrainian and Russian artillery – and it has been reported that few if any buildings remain standing in the city.
The 122mm Grad (Russian for “hailstorm”) multiple rocket launcher (MRL) was developed for use by the Soviet Army to defeat enemy motor-rifle (mechanized infantry) and infantry units in concentrated areas. It can also be employed against artillery and mortar batteries, air defense units, and even logistics facilities.
It consists of a launch vehicle, typically a truck, and a multi-rack system.
A variety of artillery rockets are available for the Grad MRL.
Ukraine inherited a number of BM-21 and 9P138 MRLs following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and nearly 200 were still in operation in February 2022, when Russia launched its unprovoked invasion. The BM-21 (Boyevaya Mashina – 21 or “Combat Vehicle – 21”) is essentially the successor of the Katyusha rocket launchers that were employed by the Red Army during the Second World War – and which famously became known as “Stalin’s Organs.”
The 122mm caliber rockets have a range of 30 km (18.6 miles), and as noted can be used against infantry and armored vehicles. The submunitions can penetrate 60 to 100 mm (2.36 to 4 inches) of rolled steel armor. The weapons are still reloaded manually by the crew, while additional rockets are carried by an escorting truck. It takes around 10 minutes to reload the launching vehicle.
The improvised vehicles seen in the recent video appeared to be commercial light truck chassis that were fitted with the launchers – suggesting that Ukraine has more launchers than platforms to mount them on. Clearly, Kyiv is indeed fighting Russia with everything its got.
We’ll fight them with everything we’ve got.
Until they are gone.
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) May 10, 2023
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.