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What Explosive Weapons are the Russians using in Ukraine?

Russia’s recent full-scale invasion of Ukraine has involved the deployment of explosive weapons by land, air, and sea. Since 24 February 2022, when Putin’s troops crossed into Ukraine at its northern border with Belarus, at least 437 civilians have been killed and injured across the country by Russian explosive weapons, according to AOAV data. Air strikes and ground-launched artillery shelling on villages, towns, and cities have caused the greatest degrees of harm to civilians, accounting for 52% and 26% of civilian casualties respectively. 

In the first two weeks of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, AOAV recorded 60 incidents in which civilians have been killed or injured by Russian explosive weapon use. Air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, have caused 229 civilian casualties, 144 of whom were killed and 85 injured. Russian use of ground launched weapons have resulted in 206 civilian casualties, 98 of whom were killed and 108 injured. More specifically, these ground-launched weapon types include artillery shelling (124 civilian casualties), missile strikes (67), mortar fire (10), and rocket fire (5). 

Drawing heavily on user-generated content from platforms such as Twitter, TikTok and encrypted messaging apps, AOAV has identified some of the primary weapons in Russia’s land and air arsenals, currently being used to wage war in Ukraine. This list has been compiled using open-source information on Russian heavy weapons that have been captured or destroyed in the course of the recent conflict.


2S7 Pion/Malka

The 2S7 Pion developed in the late Cold War era is commonly known as the most powerful self-propelled howitzer that has gone through mass production. Based on a modified and stretched T-80 chassis, the 2S7 is fitted with a 56-calibre 203mm 2A44 howitzer that has a range of 37.4km with standard ammunition, a rocket-assisted projectile can be fired slightly further at 47.5 km. With a rate of fire of 1.5 rounds per minute, four rounds of ammunition are carried on the 2S7, with the remainder being stored on a support vehicle. The main types of ammunition include high-explosive,  rocket assisted, concrete-piercing and tactical nuclear rounds (although the latter are yet to be seen in battle). Steel armour protects the crew against small-arms fire and shell splinters while moving, in the firing position the crew members are critically exposed as the ordnance is mounted in the open. Like many Soviet-era designed military vehicles, the 2S7 is also fitted with an NBC (Nuclear, biological, and chemical) protection system

2S7 Pion. Source

The 2S7M Malka is an improved variant of the Pion (sometimes known as the Pion-M). The main difference being an increased rate of fire to 2.5 rounds per minute, also carrying eight shells rather than the original four. 

2S7M Malka. Source

2S19 Msta-S

Entering service with the Russian Army in 1989, the 152mm 2S19 is a self-propelled howitzer designed to destroy unsheltered and covered manpower. The weapon comprises a turret mounted on a tracked armoured 6×6 chassis based on the elements of the T-72 and T-80 main battle tanks (MTB’s). The 152mm gun is accompanied by a 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun that is remotely controlled by the commander and three smoke grenade dischargers mounted on either side of the turret. Generally, 50 rounds of ammunition for the howitzer are carried onboard alongside 300 cartridges for the auxiliary machine gun.

The Msta-S can fire a variety of munitions, conventionally using a high-explosive fragmentation round but can also be fitted with cluster projectiles with fragmentation submunitions and the Krasnopol laser-guided 152mm projectile. The howitzer can also fire the 3RB30 jammer carrying projectiles that set up radio interference and disrupt enemy communications. These have a range of 22km and can jam frequencies to a radius of 700m. Meanwhile, the laser-guided weaponry, designed to defeat armoured vehicles and weapons placements, has a projectile range up to 20km. With ammunition and gun loading being highly automated, this allows a maximum firing rate of eight rounds a minute.

Two new variants, the 2S19M (with a computerised fire control system) and the 2S19M1 (fitted with a NATO standard 155mm gun) have also been produced. 

2S19 Msta-S. 23/02/22. Source

2A65 Msta-B

Being a towed variant of the ordnance used on the self-propelled 2S19 MSTA-S, the 2A65 is based on a two wheel split trail carriage with a 152mm 47-calibre howitzer gun. A crew of eight will operate the vehicle, partially protected by a gun shield. The gun has a maximum range of 24.7km with standard ammunition and 28.5km with bleed shells, the maximum rate of fire is at 7 rounds per minute. The weapon itself is normally towed by a KamAZ-6530 8×8 truck, with a maximum tow speed of 80km/h on good roads and 20km/h off road.

2A65 Msta-B. 20/02/2022. Source
2A65 Msta-B. 06/03/2022. Source

2S3 Akatsiya

Developed from 1967 onwards and deployed in 1971, the 2S3 is a tracked 28-calibre 152mm self-propelled howitzer derived from the D-20 towed howitzer. With a maximum range of 17.4km with standard ammunition and 20.5km with rocket assisted projectiles, the 2S3 also can be fitted with a number of other armaments. These include BP-540 HEAT (high explosive anti tank) charges, armour penetrating rounds, Krasnopol laser-guided rocket-assisted projectiles, ZH3 smoke charges and even nuclear projectiles. The maximum rate of fire is 4 rounds per minute, but sustained fire will limit this to 1 round per minute. A total of 46 rounds are generally carried on the vehicle that also includes a turret-mounted PKT machine gun used for self-defence against proximate threats. The 2S3 operates under full armour protection with steel armour protecting the crew from small arms fire and shell splinters all around, while over the frontal arc the armour provides protection against heavy machine gun fire. 

2S3 Akatsiya. 20/02/2022. Source

2S1 Gvozdika

Entering large-scale production in 1971, the 2S1 Gvozdika is a tracked 122mm self-propelled howitzer, fitted with an adaptation of the ordinance of the towed D30 howitzer. The 122mm ordnance allows normal shells to be fired up to 15.3km, with rocket-assisted shells being able to travel up to 21.9km Much like other Russian howitzers, the 2S1 can also fire anti-tank, fragmentation, cluster, smoke and illumination projectiles. A total of 40 rounds are carried, but only 16 of these are directly accessible from the inside. There are no secondary armaments to protect from proximate dangers. 

The 2S1 is fully amphibious with little preparation and is propelled by its tracks once afloat. A variety of wider tracks are also available to allow the vehicle to operate in snow or swamp conditions. It is NBC protected and has the capability for infrared night-vision. 

2S1 Gvozdika. Source. 04/03/2022

D30 Howitzer

Having first entered the service in the 1960’s with the Russian army, the D-30 is designed to defeat unsheltered and covered manpower, weapons and military equipment of the enemy at the forward edge of the battle area. Acting as a towed, stationary howitzer with a 122mm gun, the maximum fire rate is 6-8 rounds a minute and about 75 rounds per hour, however this does need to be loaded manually. Using standard ammunition, the D-30 has a maximum firing range of 15.4km.

There are reported to be at least two chemical projectiles for the D-30, with a chemical weapons agent being dispersed by the explosion of a TNT bursting charge – these are thought to be Sarin and Lewisite.

D30 Howitzer. 26/02/2022 Source


2S4 Tyulpan

First entering service in 1971, the 2S4 Tyulpan is a self-propelled mortar fitted with an externally mounted 240mm breach-laded cannon developed from the M-240 towed mortar. Being able to fire a range of munitions that were developed for the M-240, including high explosive (HE), anti-armour and chemical munitions. A standard HE round weighs 130kg with a maximum range of 9.6km, with rocket-assisted shells this range extends to a maximum of 19km. The mortar is also able to fire laser-guided munitions and even ZBV4 shells with nuclear warheads.

2S4 Tyulpan. 03/03/2022. Source

2S9 Nona S

First being seen in public in 1985, the 2S9 Nona-S is a light airdroppable self-propelled mortar armed with a 2A51 120 mm breech-loaded cannon. This mortar system can be fired as a mortar or a howitzer to deliver either direct or indirect fire. The maximum range is 8.85km with standard projectiles but increases to 12.8km with rocket-propelled munitions. The Nona-S is fully prepared to engage armoured vehicles, its armour-piercing round can penetrate 600-650mm steel plates at a range of 1km. The mortar can also apply the Kitolov-2 precision guided missiles, this laser-guided round has a maximum range of 9km and a hit probability of between 80% and 90%.

Thin aluminium armour provides protection against small-arms fire and artillery shell splinters. The vehicle is also fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems. The Nona-S is also fully amphibious, on water being propelled by two waterjets.

2S9 Nona S. 06/03/2022. Source

2S23 Nona SVK

The Nona SVK is based on the Nona S with the chassis of the BTR-80 APC and is fitted with an improved 2A60 mortar. Alongside being armed with the 120mm rifled gun mortar, the SVK also comes with a 7.62mm machine gun used for proximate self defence. 

2S23 Nona SVK. Source.

Multiple Launch Rocket System

A Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is a type of rocket artillery system containing several launchers fixed to a single platform, firing its ordnance in a similar fashion to a volley gun. Rockets are self-propelled and generally have longer effective range than conventional artillery shells. Each system can even carry multiple warheads. 

BM-21 Grad

Truck-mounted BM-21 systems in use by Russian forces are the most numerous and widely-deployed multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) in the world. They are less precise than some of Russia’s other missiles but are capable of firing 40 122mm rockets singly or in a salvo lasting six seconds, causing significant destruction to urban areas. The standard rockets have a maximum firing range of approximately 20km, but with more recently developed munitions, this can often be increased to up to 40km. The system can be armed with various types of rocket, including high explosive fragmentation rockets and high explosive anti tank rounds. Although usually trained on infantry and heavy armour, there have been a number of reports of GRAD missiles being deployed against civilian populations during the conflict. 

BM-21 Grad. 27/02/2022. Source


Based on the chassis of a T-72 Main Battle Tank (MBT) but with the turret removed, the TOS-1A is a heavy flamethrower system designed to provide fire support for tanks and infantry, operating from an unconcealed environment for incapacitation of light armoured transport and vehicles – although these have also been deployed against civilian populations in some cases. The TOS is the main source of the infamous ‘Thermobaric Bombs’ being weaponised against Ukraine. 

The weapon can fire unguided 220mm 30-barrel or 24-barrel incendiary or thermobaric rockets used effectively to clear out entrenched personnel in buildings, field fortifications and bunkers. Much like other MLRS, the TOS differs in the types of ammunition being fired, but also in a shorter firing range of up to 6km. 

TOS-1A. 01/03/2022. Source

Thermobaric Weapons

A thermobaric bomb is a two stage explosive device. It consists of a container of fuel and two separate explosive charges. The first explosion bursts the fuel container (carbon-based fuel or fine metallic particles). Fuel mixes with oxygen in the air and a resulting cloud flows around objects and into target structures. A second charge then ignites the cloud causing a large shock wave which can destroy buildings. Surrounding oxygen is consumed by the explosion which creates a partial vacuum that can kill by rupturing lungs. Thermobaric bombs are often used on underground targets in confined spaces, such as bunkers or entrances to caves or tunnels, due to their ability to penetrate small areas. There have been fears over its widespread use in battle, particularly with its ability to ‘vaporise’ enemy infantry. 

BM-27 Uragan 

The Uragan, also known as the Hurricane 9K57 or the 9P140 is a 16-round 220mm multiple launch rocket system used to defeat troops and combat material in concentrated areas. The rocket uses a range of projectiles: the 9M27F rocket projectile fitted with the high-explosive fragmentation (HE-Frag) warhead, and the rocket projectiles 9M27K, 9M59, and 9M27K2. The Uragan MLRS can also fire spin-stabilised rockets loaded with chemical, high-explosive, cluster and incendiary payloads up to a range of 40km.

The 9M27K 220mm rocket projectile is fitted with fragmentation submunitions scattering cluster warhead. It can engage manpower and soft-skinned targets in concentration areas – often being used during the invasion of Ukraine against civilian populations as well as military targets. The 270kg rocket projectile is armed with a 90kg warhead and carries fragmentation submunitions of 30kg.

The 9M59 rocket projectile holds an 89.5kg cluster warhead fitted with antitank mines for remote mine laying in front of enemy combat material units in the battle zone and concentrated areas.

The 9M27K2 rocket projectile carries an 89.5kg cluster warhead fitted with 24 anti-tank mines for remote mine laying. These area denial mines can be fired at distances up to 35km. 

BM-27 Uragan. Source

BM-30 Smerch

A heavy multiple rocket launcher, the BM-30 Smerch is designed to counter tactical missile systems, aviation, rocket, artillery and mortar battalions and batteries alongside concentrated areas of manpower. Equipped with 12 launcher tubes, the Smerch can fire the 9M55K 300mm rocket with an approximate range of 20-70km. This weapon is most commonly used to fire cluster munitions, with the 9M55K warhead containing 72 high-explosive fragmentation submunitions. The Smerch can also fire the 9M528 projectile with an effective range up to 90km, and an additional warhead that can scatter up to 25 anti-tank mines. These have also been used to line so-called ‘humanitarian corridors’ out of besieged Ukrainian cities. 

BM30 Smerch Rocket System. Source
An unexploded Smerch Cluster Munition. 09/03/2022. Source

Cluster Munitions

Cluster bombs are typically a large munition, i.e. a ballistic missile, which carries a cluster warhead holding a large number of much smaller explosive fragmentation bombs, which are scattered during the initial main explosion and detonate on impact. Due to the wide harm they can cause, cluster munitions are widely criticised as weapons that pose an immediate threat to civilians during conflict and for the long-lasting problems they can cause if sub-munitions do not explode upon first impact.

Ground Vehicles



A modernised version of the T-64B main battle tank (MTB), the T-64BV is armed with a 125mm 2A46M-1 smoothbore gun, one 7.62 coaxial machine gun mounted to the right side of the main armament and a 12.7mm NSVT machine gun mounted on top of the commander hatch. The main 125mm cannon can also fire the AT-8 Songster anti-tank guided missile and the 9K112-1 Kobra (a newer design of the 9M119) that can engage heavily armoured targets at a distance of 4km.

T-64BV. 03/03/2022. Source


The T-72A main battle tank consists of a 125mm smoothbore gun/launcher (2A46M) that can fire three main types of ammunition: Armour Piercing Fin-Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS); High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT) and High Explosive Fragmentation. These have a maximum range between 2.1km to 9.4km with a rate of fire of 8 rounds per minute. Alongside the main gun, the T-72A also carries a 7.62 PKT machine gun mounted to the right of the main armament and has 250 rounds of ammunition. Two banks of smoke grenades discharger type 902B 81mm are mounted at each side of the main turret. 

T-72A. 10/03/2022. Source


This variant of the T-72A is fitted with an explosive reactive armour array consisting of 227 boxes.

T-72AV. Source


Fitted with 2mm appliqué armour in the front of the hull, an improved 840hp engine and is capable of firing 9M119 Svir laser-guided missiles (at a range up to 4km).

T-72B. Source


Fitted with explosive reactive armour (Relikt ERA), using 9M119M missiles, a new main gun using the 2A46M-5 smoothbore gun and an additional 12.7mm NSV machine gun mounted on the commander’s cupola.

T-72B3. Source


An upgraded version of the T-80B, the BV features a 125mm 2A46 smoothbore gun which can fire a full range of ammunition including APFSDS (Armour-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding-Sabot), HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank), and HE-Frag (High Explosive Fragmentation). The cannon can also fire AT-8 `Songster’ 9M112 anti-tank guided missile with a range from 100 to 4,000 m. A total of four AT-8 `Songster’ ATGWs is carried inside the tank. A 7.62mm PKT machine gun is mounted coaxially to the right of the main gun. A 12.7mm NSVT machine gun is mounted at the commander’s hatch to be used against air attack threats. Four 81mm smoke grenade dischargers are mounted on each side of the turret.

T-80BV. Source


Entering service in 2019, the T-80BVM main battle tank improves on the main gun, autoloader and armour piercing projectile system, while night vision and fuel economy are also improved. Armed with a 125mm 2A46M-4 smoothbore gun (proving more accurate than its previous iterations) that is compatible with new Snivets-1 and Snivets-2 armour piercing rounds. The autoloader holds a total of 45 shells including high explosive fragmentation and anti tank rounds. The 7.62 PKT machine gun remains but a new Kord 12.7mm has also been fitted. 

T-80BVM. Source


In production since the late 1970’s, the T-80U carries the 9M119 Refleks anti-tank guided missile system fired via the main gun. This has an effective range up to 4km, with the system intended to engage tanks fitted with explosive reactive armour (ERA) and low flying aerial targets at a range of 5km. The missile system fires 9M119 or 9M119M missiles, both of which have semi-automatic laser guidance. The tank is also fitted with a 125mm 2A46M-1 automatic smoothbore gun that can fire between 6 and 8 rounds per minute. Secondary armaments include the standard 7.62 PKT machine gun and 12.7mm NSVT air defence machine gun.

T-80U. Source


The T-90A armament includes a 125 2A46M smoothbore cannon that can fire armour piercing, anti-tank and high explosive fragmentation rounds as well as shrapnel projectiles with time fuses. The gun can also fire th 9M119 Refleks anti-tank guided missile system with a maximum range of 4km. The T90A is intended to engage tanks fitted with explosive reactive armour as well as low-flying air targets up to a range of 5km. For proximate threats, secondary armaments include a 7.62mm PKT machine gun, 12.7mm air defence machine gun and even a 5.45mm AKS-74 assault rifle carried on a storage rack.

T-90A. Source

Armoured Fighting Vehicles


Being the first serious modernisation of the BMP-1, it was developed in the mid 1970’s to enhance firepower by adding the pintle-mounted 9P135M launcher, capable of firing SACLOS guided 9M113 and 9M113M anti tank guided missiles – increasing armour penetration and effective range. Another addition was a new machine gun firing port at the front of the turret and left side of the hull where they used the standard 7.62 PKT machine gun. To defend against air attacks, two 9M32M ‘Strela 2M’ or 9M313 Igla-1 missiles were added. 

BMP-1P. Source


An infantry fighting vehicle based on the BMP-1, the BMP-2 is designed to enhance mobility, firepower and protection of mounted infantry on the battlefield under nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) attack. The unit is fitted with a two-man turret armed with a stabilised 30mm 2A42 cannon, with a 7.62 PKT coaxial machine gun mounted on the left of the main armament – with 2,000 rounds supplied. A bank of three smoke grenade dischargers are mounted on either side of the turret. Mounted on the turret roof is also a launcher for an AT-4 Spigot or AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank guided missile with a maximum range of 4km. 

BMP-2. Source


A command variant with of the BMP-2 with two antennas mounted on the rear of the hull, one behind the turret and one on the right-hand side of the rear of the vehicle, one IFF antenna on the left-hand side of the rear of the vehicle, and support for a telescopic mast in the front of the IFF antenna. The firing port equipped with the periscope was removed from either side of the vehicle.

BMP-2K. Source


A successor to the BMP-2, the new variant consists of a 100mm 2A70 semi-automatic rifled missile launcher that can fire either fragmentation or anti-tank guided missiles – with the effective range of the fragmentation rounds being 4km. The main gun fires the 3UBK10 anti-tank missile round, consisting of the 9M117 laser beam riding missile and container. This can engage tanks with explosive reactive armour and low-flying aerial vehicles. A secondary armament includes a 30mm 2A72 coaxial cannon and a 7.62mm PKT machine gun. The cannon can engage targets up to 2km on the ground and 4km aerially.

BMP-3. Source


The BMD-2 is fitted with a one-man turret armed with a 30mm 2A42 stabilised cannon (also used in the BMP-2). Secondary armaments include the 7.62 PKT machine gun mounted to the right side of the main cannon, an AT-4 Spigot or AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank guided missile launcher is also mounted on the right side of the turret roof. A second PKT is mounted at the right side, at the front of the hull. 

BMD-2. Source


Developed as a reconnaissance vehicle to support armoured and mechanised formations, The BRM-1K was not intended to engage the enemy, but is armed for self-defence purposes. The larger two man turret is armed with the same 73mm 2A28 Grom low pressure cannon as found in the BMP-1. It can fire anti-tank rounds at targets out to 1.4 km and fragmentation rounds out to 4 km. There is no anti-tank guided missile on the BRM-1K. A 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun is present.

BRM-1K. Source

ZU-23 AA Gun

A towed 23mm twin barrel light anti-aircraft gun, the ZU-23 is one of the most widely used of its kind in the world. Fitted with two 2A14 autocannons firing the 23x152mm rounds, each 2A14 is fed by a 5 round belt. The rate of fire can get up to 2,000 rounds per minute but requires engagement in short bursts to allow the barrels to cool. The maximum effective range against air targets is 2.5km, ground targets can only be engaged slightly closer at a maximum of 2km. 

ZU-23 AA Gun. Source


An airborne armoured infantry fighting vehicle that can be para-dropped onto the battlefield to provide firepower and support for airborne troops, The BMD-4M is fitted with a two-man turret armed with a 2A70 100mm caliber gun, coupled with a 30mm 2A72 cannon and a 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun mounted to the right of the main armament. The main gun can fire conventional types of ammunitions and also the 100mm laser-guided ammunition Arkan Tandem 9M117M1 which can be used against modern main battle tanks at a maximum range of 5.5km and against sheltered and exposed personnel and fortifications at a maximum range of 7km. Unobserved threats, anti-tank weaponry and other small targets, fixed-wing and rotary-aircraft can be engaged at a maximum range of up to 4m. 

BMD-4M. Source


An advanced 8×8 wheeled armoured personnel carrier (APC), the BTR can perform combat operations for 24 hours a day. Armed with a 30mm dual-fed automatic cannon that can fire armour piercing tracer projectiles, high explosive incendiary and high explosive tracer ammunition. Meanwhile a secondary armament includes the 7.62 PKTM machine gun. 

BTR-82A. Source


Su-25 (NATO – ‘Frogfoot’)

A single-seat, close-support aircraft, the Su-25 is designed to defeat small mobile and stationary ground targets and to engage low-speed aerial targets. The wings have ten pylons to carry a range of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. These include the R-3S and R-60 air-to-air missiles and the Kh-23 and Kh-25ML air-to-ground missiles. The aircraft can also be fitted with UB-32A pods for 57mm S-5 rockets, 8M1 pods for 80mm S8 rockets, S-24 240mm guided rockets and S-25 330mm guided rockets. 

The Su-25 can also be armed with laser guided bombs between 350-670kg, 500kg incendiary devices and cluster munitions. The twin-barrel gun, 30mm AO17A, is installed on the underside of the fuselage on the port side. Armed with 250 rounds of ammunition and being capable of firing at a burst rate of 3,000 rounds per minute. SPPU-22 gun pods can also be fitted to the underwing pylons, carrying Gsh-23 23mm twin-barrel guns, each with 260 rounds of ammunition. 

The SU-25 nose houses a Klyon PS laser ranger and target designator, ensuring deliberate and precision engagement of targets. 

Su-25 (NATO – ‘Frogfoot’). Source


A multirole fighter aircraft, the Su-30SM is an advanced model of the Su-30MK aircraft family. It is often deployed in counter-air strikes, counter-land and counter-sea missions. It can also conduct electronic countermeasures and early warning tasks. The aircraft can carry an advanced weapons payload weighing up to eight tonnes, this can include: air-to-air missiles, Oniks (Yakhont) supersonic anti-ship and land attack missiles (with an operational range of 120-300km depending on altitude). 

The aircraft can engage aerial threats alongside ground and naval targets by deploying guided and unguided missiles. 

Su-30SM. Source


Also known as the Su-27IB, the Su-34 is a fighter bomber armed with a 30mm GSh-301 gun accompanied by 180 rounds of ammunition – with a maximum rate of fire of 1,500 rounds per minute. With ten hardpoints for weapon payloads, the aircraft is able to carry a range of missiles including air-to-air, air-to-surface, anti-ship and anti-radiation. The Su-34 also can carry guided and unguided bombs and rockets, including the KAB-500 laser guided general-purpose bomb (500kg).

Su-34. 04/03/2022. Source



The Mi8 is one of the most prolifically used utility helicopters ever built and has served the Soviet Union (and now Russia) since 1961. The most widely used model is the Mi-8T Hip-C for standard utility transport, however the Mi-8TV armed variant is fitted with 7.62mm built-in machine guns and six external weapons racks with S-5 rockets. The helicopter can also deploy AT-2 Swatter 9M 17P Skorpion anti-tank missiles and is capable of laying minefields as well. 

The armed Mi-8TV helicopters are also fitted with more powerful TV3-117VMA engines, giving an improved hovering ceiling and increased the maximum slung payload to 4,000kg.

A hot Brick infrared jammer can be fitted alongside six ASO-2V flare dispensers.

Mi-8. Source


An all-weather attack helicopter, the Ka-52 Alligator is a twin seat variant of the Ka-50 Black Shark attack helicopter. First being rolled out in 1996, the Alligator can destroy enemy armoured and unarmoured ground targets, low-speed aerial targets and frontline personnel. It is also often deployed as a surveillance platform and aerial command post.

The starboard side of the fuselage is fitted with an NPPU-80 movable gun mount with 2A42 30mm automatic guns. The six wing-mounted external hardpoints can be attached with different combinations of weapons. These hardpoints can carry VIKHR anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), ATAKA missiles with laser guidance systems and B8V-20 rocket launchers for 80mm unguided S-8 rockets. The anti-tank missiles have an approximate range of 8-10km. The Alligator can also be armed with IGLA-V anti aircraft guided missiles.

The Ka-52 is fitted with a number of sensors and radars including a mast mounted radome housing a Phazotron FH-01 Millimetre Wave Radar (MMW), with two antennas for aerial and ground targets.

Countermeasures are supported by active infrared and electronic jammers, radar warning receivers, laser detection systems, infrared missile approach warning sensors and UV-26 flare and chaff dispensers in wing tip fairings.

Ka-52. Source

Mi-24 (NATO: Hind)

The Mi-24 entered service with the Soviet Union in the late 1970’s and has since been deployed by 40 countries. The original model was designed to carry eight combat troops, but later reconfigured to take on more of a gunship role. The design is based on a conventional pod and boom, with a five-blade main rotor and three-blade tail rotor. The two crew (the pilot and weapons operator) are placed in tandem armoured cockpits with individual canopies and bulletproof windscreens.

The helicopter has six suspension weapon units on the wingtips. The Mi24D (Mi25) and the Mi-24V (Mi-35) are equipped with a YakB four barrelled, 12.7mm mounted machine gun with a firing rate of 4,000-4,500 rounds per minute. The Mi24-P is fitted with a 30 mm built in, fixed gun mount and the Mi-24VP with a 23mm, flexibly mounted gun. 

The Mi-24P and Mi24V have four underwing pylons for up to 12 anti-tank missiles, as well as long-range Ataka anti-tank missiles – these are guided by a narrow radar beam with a maximum range of 8km. This missile comprises a 7.4kg warhead, with a tandem charge for penetration of 800mm thick explosive reactive armour.

The Mi-24V is also armed with the Shturm anti-tank guided missile system. This 5.4kg high explosive warhead is capable of penetrating up to 650mm of armour with a maximum range of 5km. 

All Mi-24 helicopters can also be armed with rockets and grenade launchers. 

Mi-24 (NATO: Hind). Source


An export variant of the Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter, the Mi-35 is a multi-role combat helicopter primarily designed for attack and military transport missions – offering  superior flight performance and manoeuvrability compared to previous incarnations. Integrating modern, high-precision weaponry for destroying ground-based armoured targets and providing air support for ground missions, it is one of the more modern combat helicopters in the Russian Air Force today. 

Alongside the weaponry that can be attached to the Mi-24V, the helicopter can also wield a chin-mounted turret can be installed with the twin-barrel Gsh-23V 23mm cannon, armed with 450-470 rounds of ammunition. The gun can fire between 3,400 and 3,600 rounds a minute, while the stub wings can carry other weapons systems such as anti-tank missiles, rocket pods or fuel tanks. Additionally, the military helicopter can be armed with up to eight 9M114 or 9M120 Ataka-V SACLOS (Semi-automatic command to line of sight) radio-guided anti-tank missiles, up to 80 80mm unguided rockets and 20 122 unguided aircraft rockets. 

Countermeasures include a radar warning receiver, laser range finder, location finder, chaff and flare launch system, infrared jamming systems and an engine-exhaust infrared suppressor.

Mi-35. Source

Ballistic Missiles

Cruise missiles (3M14 Kalibr)

Having previously been tested in the Russian bombardment of Syrian cities, the Kalibr is a Russian land attack cruise missile (LACM) with an estimated range of between 1,500 and 2,500km. Being a mainstay of the Russian Navy’s ground-strike capabilities, the missiles are launched from warships or submarines and comprise of a 450kg high-explosive warhead with the potential to include a nuclear payload. The missiles fly at subsonic speeds while achieving supersonic speed as they near their proposed target, reducing the time by which defence systems have to react. 

A Russian version of the US’s Tomahawk cruise missile, the Kalibr has been continuously used in the conflict to damage Ukrainian radar installations, command and control centres and airfields in north and eastern Ukraine. For convenience, all missiles can be fired from a common vertical launch system that can be fitted to a variety of warships and submarines.

3M14 Kalibr. Source
3M14 Kalibr. Source

9K720 Iskander

The Iskander is a mobile short-range hypersonic ballistic missile system that can travel at speeds of 2100-2600 metres/second. Invented to replace the previous OTR-21 Tochka systems, the missile has a range of 500km (310 miles), allowing it to be fired from within the borders of Russia and Belarus respectively. They can hit with great precision, allegedly between 2-5 metres of the intended target, and without warning, being used to take out vital targets in advance of a lightning assault. Warheads range from 480-700kg bombs, but also can comprise of cluster munitions, bunker busters, smart submunitition, thermobaric explosives and even EMP’s. Some reports have also suggested its potential use to carry nuclear warheads should the conflict escalate. Other reports have stated that the Iskander is often fitted with a stealth coating to make it difficult to spot on radar. According to Russian claims, the area of destruction from a single warhead is 25,000 square metres, meaning an Iskander strike in a densely populated civilian area would be devastating.

The M variant of the Iskander has the ability to manoeuvre continuously in flight to evade missile-defence systems.

The Iskander has been used widely during the Ukrainian invasion, used to target key infrastructure in major cities while also targeting key strategic military points such as a number of airfields, anti-missile defences, command posts and communication nodes.

9K720 Iskander. Source

More research on explosive weapons by Action on Armed Violence:

Series: Weapons Explained
Series: An Anatomy of an Explosive Weapon Attack
What is a thermobaric bomb?
Ukraine: AOAV explosive violence data on harm to civilians