A video that has surfaced online offers the first glimpse of Ukrainian forces utilizing laser-guided 70mm rockets manufactured in the United States.
The footage depicts an up-armored M1152A1 Humvee, supplied by the United States, equipped with an Arnold Defense LAND-LGR4 four-shot launcher. The projectiles being fired from this launcher are reported to be Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II rockets.
The initial frames of the clip showcase the logo of Ukraine’s recently formed 37th Separate Marine Brigade. The Brigade, which was established in February 2023, is a unit of the Ukrainian Marine Corps.
The origins of the video are currently unknown, including the specific location and time of recording. The video also shows a 70mm rocket with a Ukrainian slogan inscribed on it.
However, it is unclear whether the rocket is equipped with a laser-guided kit, as the footage does not provide a definitive view of the missile.
APU for the first time showed the work of the APKWS system
The footage of missiles hitting targets was recorded by a drone. pic.twitter.com/CORuYJ0hwR
— Lew Anno Suport #Ukraine 24/2-22 (@anno1540) May 8, 2023
The LAND-LGR4 launcher is primarily designed to deploy laser-guided 70mm rockets but can also accommodate unguided variants.
In April, initial reports started to circulate regarding the deployment of Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) rockets by the 37th Separate Marine Brigade.
These rockets were reportedly being fired from launchers mounted on M1152A1s, which are up-armored Humvee variants resembling two-door pickup trucks.
On April 27, several Twitter users shared a video claiming to depict the 37th Separate Marine Brigade utilizing one of these mobile launchers against Russian targets in an undisclosed location within the southern Kherson region.
Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II Rockets
The APKWS II rockets comprise three primary components: the warhead, rocket motor, and guidance section, which is situated between the other two components.
The modular design of the APKWS II allows various types of warheads to be fitted onto the rocket, similar to standard unguided 70mm rockets.
It remains uncertain what type of warheads the Ukrainian forces are employing on the rockets seen in the video. Based on the footage of the rockets hitting their targets, they appear to be high-explosive warheads.
The new video also captures the system in action, demonstrating its engagement with Russian targets, which include buildings and a tower-mounted sensor. The striking of the tower in the video highlights the precision capabilities of the APKWS system.
APKWS II rockets rely on an active laser designation system to engage targets accurately. However, the video does not provide clear visibility on how Ukrainian forces are accomplishing laser designation.
It is possible that personnel in close proximity to the targets could be utilizing hand-held or vehicle-mounted laser designators to mark the targets for precision strikes.
Another possibility is commercial drones equipped with laser designators can serve as an effective solution for scouting and engaging targets with precision in close proximity.
In May 2022, US officials announced their plans to provide Ukraine with APKWS rockets as part of a larger arms assistance package valued at $22.6 million.
APKWS is a versatile weapon system that can be deployed on various platforms, including warplanes, helicopters, and ground vehicles. In the case of Ukraine, they have acquired APKWS-armed Humvees from the United States and pickup trucks from Germany.
An additional benefit of the APKWS system is its effectiveness against drones, provided the laser designator can maintain a steady lock on the target as the drone moves swiftly.
This capability makes the precision rocket a valuable countermeasure against Russia’s Lancet suicide drones, which pose a significant threat to lightly protected Ukrainian artillery and air defenses, particularly in the open terrain of southern Ukraine.
The exact number of launcher vehicles currently in Ukrainian service, specifically within the 37th Separate Marine Brigade or other units, remains unclear.
According to BAE Systems, the manufacturer of APKWS II, these munitions have a maximum range of approximately 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) when launched from the ground.
Moreover, the relatively low cost of each complete APKWS II round, at approximately $27,500, makes it an attractive option for cost-effective precision strikes.
The Humvee-mounted launchers can fire volleys of unguided rockets, offering a means of delivering decent firepower.
However, due to the limited capacity of the LAND-LGR4 launcher, which can only load four rounds at a time, it may not provide the necessary volume of fire for highly effective unguided indirect strikes.