There’s a saying in the military, “If it’s senseless, but it works, it’s not senseless.” Often this refers to makeshift weapons and ammunition. Having to wait for a long time for Ukrainian industrial weapons and Western armament models to arrive, the volunteers and engineers have started to produce and improve the existing types of weapons. One of these is a makeshift ‘Guerrilla Grad’ multiple rocket launcher mounted on an off-road vehicle. Many artillery units are now actively using it. Among them are the artillery operators of the Aidar Battalion fighting outside the city of Bakhmut.
This makeshift modification of the Grad has certain advantages over the standard variant. The cost of converting a civilian SUV into a multiple rocket launcher is only 160 thousand UAH.
The Guerilla Grad has a range of up to 25 kilometers (15.5 miles). It also has high target destruction accuracy, even compared to the standard Grad.
Low visibility and high speed. The vehicle quickly approaches the line, stops a short distance from it, fires at the target, and leaves the dangerous position rapidly. And it is not a target large enough for the enemy to spend significant resources to destroy it.
By hitting targets and positions far from the front line, the Guerilla Grad has a significant psychological impact on the enemy and keeps them strung up.
The Guerilla Grad: Getting Ready
The Guerilla Grad Fires
At the firing position, everything happens very fast because the enemy drones can track the car and transmit the coordinates for an enemy artillery strike or an attack with the Lancet kamikaze drones, which are often sent to the rear of the Ukrainian positions for this very purpose—to destroy the long-range artillery.
A drone hovers over the Russian positions. It records the location of the missile hit and transmits this data to the commander at the base. It sends the data back to the team of the combat vehicle via a secure channel.
The Guerilla Grad is designed to have three launcher guides. But in a previous mission, one of the guides was torn off during firing. Therefore, the system now fires only two shots until an additional guide is reinstalled.
The commander, Chychen, is waiting at the base. When he sees us taking a picture of him in shorts, he laughs and says people will be making fun of him. But that’s part of life here. It’s a blistering hot summer, and combat activity is a daily occurance. There is just no time for formalities. You have to keep fighting and live fast.
Chychen informs the team that they have hit the target. Everyone is happy to hear that.
Talking with Hrek, I ask, “How do you feel when you know you have hit the target?”
He gives me an honest answer.
“You feel euphoric when you hit it. But let’s call things by what they are: basically, you’re happy because you just killed someone…. But they are the ones who invaded us! So we’re doing the right thing. And there’s no need to think too much about it.”
Soon, information comes that a new target has been spotted, and the commander gives the order to engage and fire. The unit gets ready in a few minutes and sets off. I stay at the base with the commander and the reconnaissance pilots.
For dinner, we have ground beef pasta cooked by Moriak (delicious!). Then we thank the soldiers and the commander and go home.
The evening is quiet and warm. There would have been no thought of war but for the regular sounds of artillery in the distance.