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Ukrainian Special Forces operate Sivalka multiple rocket launcher

According to a tweet from Ukrainian Front dated December 3, 2023, the Omega special forces have been spotted using the "Sivalka" multiple rocket launcher system. This system, an innovation in the Ukrainian arsenal, utilizes unguided S-5 missiles, originally designed to be launched from aircraft.
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Ukrainian Sivalka multiple rocket launcher (Picture source: Twitter account of Ukrainian Front)

The Sivalka launcher, a ground-based rocket launching system, is a creative adaptation of the S-5 missiles. Historically, these are air-to-ground projectiles developed in the 1950s for Soviet aircraft. With a diameter of 55 mm, the S-5s have an effective range of about 3 to 4 kilometers, although this range can vary depending on the launch platform. Their use in a terrestrial context is a testament to ingenuity, transforming an aerial weapon into a tactical ground tool.

What makes the Sivalka particularly relevant in the Ukrainian conflict is its ability to repurpose otherwise obsolete ammunition into an effective weapon system. Faced with logistical challenges and a shortage of sophisticated armaments, Ukraine had to innovate. The Sivalka represents both an economical and effective solution, allowing for the use of existing ammunition stocks in a new and more tactically advantageous manner.

Originally designed for aerial use, the S-5 is an unguided missile, meaning it follows a ballistic trajectory after launch. This feature makes it less precise than modern guided munitions, but it compensates with its simplicity and reliability.

The missile measures approximately 1.5 meters in length and has a diameter of 55 mm, with a fin span of about 13 cm. These compact dimensions allow for its use in a variety of launchers, making the S-5 extremely versatile on the battlefield, as evidenced here. The missile is propelled by a solid propellant engine, which gives it a high speed and an effective range of about 3 to 4 kilometers, although this range can vary according to firing conditions and launcher configuration.

The S-5 is equipped with an explosive warhead which, although relatively small compared to more modern munitions, is powerful enough to cause significant damage to unarmored targets or troop concentrations. Its initial design for aerial use means it is optimized for rapid descent and high-speed impact, characteristics that make it effective against unfortified targets.

The use of the Sivalka rocket launcher by the Omega special forces in Ukraine is a striking example of ingenuity and resilience in a modern conflict. By transforming weapons originally designed for aviation into effective ground tools, Ukraine demonstrates its ability to adapt and overcome challenges posed by a more equipped adversary, while maximizing the use of its existing resources.


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