Tech by VICE

This Is What a Ukrainian Rocket Storm Looks Like

They might be from the disco era, but these Soviet rockets are still horrifying to this day.

by Ben Makuch
Oct 6 2014, 9:55pm

A soldier flicks the clunky switch on a big green box as rockets from a turret start spitting projectiles, burning and tearing across the sky in a flurry of destruction, targets unknown. 

But the viewer knows: given the flat Ukrainian field as the backdrop, those missiles are meant for some affiliated rebel or lowly Ukrainian soldier hiding in a fox hole.

These look to be BM-21 grad rockets, built during the height of the Cold War in the 60s, and are a vestige of a war left unfought—except it's 2014 and these Grad strikes are meant for Russian or Ukrainian targets, not would-be advancing Allied divisions.

Operated using a truck-mounted system, BM level rockets are known as 'Grad strikes,' grad meaning 'hail' in Russian. In other words, the BM-21s are known for hailing rockets down onto enemies. And the video evidence of these hail storms are just as scary as their moniker suggests.

Related: Syrian Rebels' DIY 'Hell's Cannon' Looks Like an Exploding Turkey Deep Fryer

While the Russians have used them in Chechnya before, both Ukrainian and rebel forces have employed the BM rocket family during the latest Eastern European conflict. Indeed, you could even say inaccurate Soviet rocket systems have become synonymous with what's become a messy geopolitical conflict with no end in sight. 

After the splintering of the Soviet Union—like the Kalashnikov and even nuclear weapons—the rockets found their way into the hands of ex-Soviet states like Ukraine, who ironically now employ them against their former overlords.

Since the summer, videos of the rockets firing in unison have proliferated online, highlighting the terrifying ferocity of the missile attacks. While inaccurate at best, acting as substitute artillery strikes, the sustained bombardment of a sky raining down with rockets forces opposition forces to hunker down.

In the end, these rocket systems are proof 1960s war technologies are just as menacing in the disco era, as they are in the age of the iPod. I guess, why reinvent the wheel when the BM-21 system rains fire just fine?