Russia has lost more than 250 of its iconic Grad rocket systems during its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, or potentially about 50 percent of its total arsenal, according to the latest update by an independent intelligence organization.

This week, Oryx posted an update that shows the Russian military has had 251 Grad Multiple Rocket Launch Systems (MLRS) destroyed, damaged, captured by or abandoned to the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) – which would substantially weaken its capacity to withstand infantry assaults in particular.

Oryx independently collects, collates and categorizes field intel using geolocated photos and videos of military equipment losses, including for Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and other international war zones.

Below is Oryx’s data file for neutralized Russian Grads with each tab linked to confirmed photographic evidence. Where there is no confirmed evidence, Oryx does not record destruction and therefore Russian losses are likely to be even greater than those they identify.

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Multiple Rocket Launchers (251, of which destroyed: 182, damaged: 14, abandoned: 2, captured: 53) [Click for photographic confirmation]

· 151 122mm BM-21 Grad: (1, destroyed) (2, destroyed) (3, destroyed) (4, destroyed) (5, destroyed) (6, destroyed) (7, 8 and 9, destroyed) (10, destroyed) (11, destroyed) (12, destroyed) (13, destroyed) (14 and 15, destroyed) (16, destroyed) (17, destroyed) (18, destroyed) (19, 20, 21 and 22, destroyed) (23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28, destroyed) (29 and 30, destroyed) (31, destroyed) (32, destroyed) (33, destroyed) (34, abandoned and destroyed) (35, destroyed) (36, destroyed) (37, destroyed) (38, destroyed) (39, destroyed) (40, 41, 42 and 43, destroyed) (44, destroyed) (45, destroyed) (46, destroyed) (47, destroyed) (48, destroyed) (49 and 50, destroyed) (51, destroyed) (52, destroyed) (53, destroyed) (54, destroyed) (55, destroyed) (56, destroyed) (57, destroyed) (58, destroyed) (59, destroyed) (60, destroyed) (61, destroyed) (62, destroyed) (63, destroyed) (64, destroyed) (65, destroyed) (66, destroyed) (67, destroyed) (68, destroyed) (69, destroyed) (70, destroyed) (71, destroyed) (72, destroyed) (73, destroyed) (74, destroyed) (75, destroyed) (76, destroyed) (77, destroyed) (78 and 79, destroyed) (80, destroyed) (81, destroyed) (82, destroyed) (83, destroyed) (84, 85 and 86, destroyed) (87, 88 and 89, destroyed) (90, destroyed) (91, destroyed) (92, destroyed) (93, destroyed) (94, destroyed) (95, destroyed) (96, destroyed) (97, destroyed) (98, destroyed) (99, destroyed) (100, destroyed) (101, destroyed) (102, destroyed) (103, destroyed) (104 and 105, destroyed) (1, damaged) (2, damaged) (3, damaged) (4, damaged) (5, damaged) (6 and 7, damaged) (8, damaged) (9, damaged) (1, abandoned) (2, abandoned) (1, captured) (2, damaged and captured) (3, captured) (4, captured) (5, captured) (6, captured) (7, captured) (8, captured) (9, captured) (10, captured) (11, captured) (12, captured) (13, captured) (14, captured) (15, captured) (16, captured) (17 and 18, captured) (19, captured) (20, captured) (21, damaged and captured) (22, damaged and captured) (23, captured) (24, captured) (25, captured) (26, captured) (27, captured) (28, captured) (29 and 30, captured) (31, captured) (32, captured) (33, damaged and captured) (34, captured)

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The Grad – which translates from Russian as “hail” – is the most numerous and widely-deployed MLRS in the world. While extremely destructive, it is also highly inaccurate and imprecise as a weapon and has been described as “nasty and indiscriminate.” With about 4,000 shrapnel fragments released per fired rocket, the Grad has long been engineered and used to take out troops rather than equipment.

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In the last two months of the war against Ukraine, Russia has averaged between 50 to 100 Grad assaults on Ukrainian settlements and positions per day.

“Clearly, when such weapons are used in or against populated areas, the risk of civilian harm is immense,” one NGO has written.

International military experts have estimated that Russia has 3,000 Grads on paper. However, several warn that the battlefield reality is that thousands of Grads are completely outdated and are mothballed in deep storage.

More realistically, across all of Russia, there are around 1,100 battle-ready and modernized Grads of different types with potentially about half committed to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. These include those still held by the forces ostensibly aligned with the faux Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics.

Since the beginning of Ukraine’s summer offensive in early June, the AFU has had a very specific strategy of “starve, stretch and strike,” e.g., reducing Russia’s artillery assets prior to undertaking larger-scale infantry assaults, such as the ones currently underway around Staromaiorske in the western Donetsk region. Part of this strategy is the continued rapid development by Ukrainian drone operators for both surveillance, battlefield management and kamikaze attack purposes.

As suggested by the disclosed data in the daily reports of the General Staff of the AFU, the pre-emptive Ukrainian strategy has resulted in an increased number of Russian Grads being neutralized.

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The Grad has long been a key part of Soviet and Russian military arsenals and doctrines. Largely based on its experience in World War II, Russia puts operational and doctrinal priority on artillery, including the decades-old Grad, over infantry, tanks or air power. Russia structures its advances, defenses, and strategy and tactics around artillery, including the reputedly “nasty and indiscriminate” Grad.

Indeed, compared to barreled artillery that fires shells, rocket launchers such as the Grad have greater destructive power and their wear and tear is slower.

While much has been rightly made of high-tech, high-precision missile systems – such as US-provided Patriot surface-to-air systems, US-provided HIMARS, UK-provided Storm Shadow missiles, and Russian Kinzhal missiles – during the war, the reality is that both Russia and Ukraine still significantly rely on Grads for a variety of battlefield purposes.

According to Rosboronexport, the Russian Government-owned exporter, the Grad is “designed to defeat enemy motor-rifle and infantry units in concentration areas, on the march and in battle formations, artillery and mortar batteries, air defense units, and logistics facilities.”

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A full BM-21 Grad MLRS comprises three main components – rockets, launcher and truck. It was developed by the Soviet Union in the 1960s based on even older weapons such as the Katyusha – which was famously nicknamed “Stalin’s Organ” by German troops in World War II.

The Grad saw its first combat use in March 1969 during the Sino-Soviet border conflict.

A three-member crew can drive the Grad to a point and then have it ready to fire in three minutes, which makes it useful on modern battlefields increasingly dominated by drones. All 40 rockets of the Grad can be fired in 20 seconds and they can be fired individually or in small groups in several-second intervals. One battalion of 18 Grads can deliver 720 rockets in a single volley. Rockets armed with high explosive-fragmentation, incendiary, or chemical warheads can be fired up to 20 kilometers, depending on the type of rockets being launched.

When Grads were introduced on the Donbas battlefields in 2017, Human Rights Watch commented the following:

“Grads are notoriously indiscriminate. Once fired, these unguided rockets can land anywhere within a rectangle of approximately 54,000 square meters, which is about the area of seven-and-a-half football fields. The most common type contains approximately 6.4 kilograms of high explosive to produce some 3,150 fragments. These fragments can then kill or maim for a radius of twenty-eight meters.”

Russia is the only manufacturer of BM-21 Grads and by far the largest producer of 122mm MLRSs in the world today. Of the 9,019 globally accounted for 122mm MLRSs currently recorded by Military Balance, 5,303 (59 percent) are Russian-made BM-21 Grads or direct derivatives.

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Comments ( 1)

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Anton
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When will Ukraine be able to use the German made TAURUS missal system?? It must be air launched and is able to reach 500 KM. It is capable to penetrate 5 meter of concrete. Ideal for the Kerch bridge!

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