Ukraine has successfully used a longer-range and heavier warhead guided artillery rocket called the Vilkha-M in combat. The rocket is a modified version of the Soviet-era Smerch multiple launch rocket system, with a range of 110km, exceeding the range of the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems provided by the US and its allies. The Vilkha-M has a 485-pound warhead that can hit targets accurately with the help of “gas rudders” and GPS technology. The missile program began in 2018, and around 100 units have been produced to date. They were first used in combat in May 2022. Source: War Zone
Why does it matter?
Ukraine’s Vilkha-M guided artillery rocket gives the country a munition that reaches 36% farther with more than twice the payload of the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. Though the Vilkha-M has so far been produced in small numbers, the extended range variant of up to 150km is in development. This munition is especially useful against targets like bridges, large structures, and heavy fortifications, which are ill-suited for both the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb and GMLRS. The new variants, when they become available, will not be tested before being used in combat.
There are plans underway to modify the Vilkha-M rocket to boost its range to 150km. This would give Ukraine a missile with the same range as the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb, but with a much larger warhead and much higher kinetic punch. However, the U.S. has refused to provide Ukraine with the Army Tactical Missile System, which has a range of up to 200 miles. Despite that, Ukraine has already produced around 100 units of the Vilkha-M missile and plans to continue production. The development of extended-range Vilkha-Ms is ongoing, with plans to use them in combat instead of testing them.
This was announced by the First Deputy Chairman of the National Association of the Defense Industry of Ukraine, Ivan Vinnik:
Let’s put it this way, hopefully it will be just in time for the widely anticipated counter-offensive in the south towards the Sea of Azov. The tests will be on the battlefield