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Ukrainian defense industry works hard to strengthen Army: Latest projects

Ukrainian defense industry's first cruise missile Neptun
A test launch of the first Ukrainian-made cruise missile Neptun. 17 August 2018, Odesa Oblast. Photo: Youtube/КБ Луч

Since the start of Russian aggression back in 2014, Ukraine has been greenlighting new military projects and relaunching those suspended for years and even decades – everything from gear and firearms to cruise missiles. Of the $3bn budget for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense in 2018, one-fifth was due to go on new weaponry and technology. Here we publish the latest updates on the most significant domestic military projects.

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Bars-8MMK mobile mortar complex

The Bars-8MMK is a mobile mortar complex on the Bars-8 armored vehicle chassis equipped with a 120-mm mortar 2B11, and has an operational range of up to 7.2km. The complex can carry 60 shells. It takes 30 or 60 seconds to bring the complex to combat readiness, and only 20 seconds to leave the position after the final shot. The Bars-8MMK was designed for an effective counter-battery fire and is equipped with a firing control system.

The Bars-8MMK was first showcased at the “Arms and Security-2017” exhibition in Kyiv and the complex is currently undergoing state testing. If it passes the tests, it will enter service in the Ukrainian Army.

1L221E mobile weapon locating system

The 1L221E is a counter-battery radar system which is currently being developed by one of the subsidiaries of UkrOboronProm, the giant state-owned defense conglomerate. The system will be capable of precisely locating enemy artillery weapons, identifying the projectile type (shells, rockets), and tracking the trajectory of the incoming threat. Another feature of the system is tracking the airspace to fix the unmanned aerial aircraft.

The 1L221E uses the same radar as the 1L220UK mobile weapon locating system known as “Zoopark-2” which was shown at the 2018 Independence Day parade in Kyiv. Unlike the 1L220UK which is mounted on a towed trailer, the 1L221E will fully fit on an 8×8 truck chassis, which will significantly reduce the unfolding time and increase its mobility.

Vilkha MLRS with guided missiles

Vilkha is a rocket complex with 300mm guided ammunition developed by the Luch State Kyiv Design Bureau. The complex was made on the basis of the BM-30 Smerch multiple-launch rocket system.

The Ukrainian Army has put it into service after successful state testing in December 2017 and April 2018, and now Vilkha is awaiting serial production. According to the Cabinet, the AFU units will receive new rockets in mid-2019.

Hrim-2 ballistic missile system

Hrim-2 (also known as Sapsan) is a perspective mobile short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile system. Its rockets are being developed by Yuzhnoye Design Office, and Makarov Southern Machine-Building Plant is developing the chassis. The new missile’s operational distance ranges from 50 to 280 km with the possibility of upgrades to up to 500 km. The rocket can carry a 500kg warhead.

Hrim-2 TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher). Photograph:

The first launch of a Hrim-2 rocket prototype was conducted in December 2016. The Morozov State Design Bureau designed, assembled and tested the TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher) for Hrim-2 in 2017. Recently, Yuzhnoye conducted tests of a cluster warhead and assembled a constructive mockup of the rocket.

Target-seeking heads of Hrim-2 missiles. Photograph:

In October at this year’s Arms and Security 2018 international exhibition in Kyiv, Yuzhnoye showcased three of four types of the target-seeking heads of Hrim-2 rockets – electro-optical, radio-locating, and combined. Another type of the target-seeking heads to be used in the missiles is infrared.


Neptun is the first Ukrainian anti-ship cruise missile. Its design is based on the Soviet-designed Kh-35 turbojet subsonic missile, but Luch Design Bureau has fully replaced its avionics and, as experts suggest, updated the engines. While Luch has not disclosed Neptun’s exact specifications, they should match or be close to the original and Russia-upgraded Kh-35: an operational range of 130-300 km, 145-kg warhead, Mach 0.8–Mach 0.95 speed (980–1,164 km/h).

Neptun’s test launch in August 2018 in Odesa Oblast. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Turchynov said that the rocket successfully hit a maritime target 100 km away.

By the end of the year, two more launch tests are planned. Final tests of Neptun’s coastal version are set for May 2019. Later the ship-based launchers will be tested.

Among other updates are the reports that Ukraine has started producing artillery barrels, testing its loitering munition, developing new sea boats to strengthen the navy, and the Antonov Design Bureau known for its cargo planes is busy with creating a long-range unmanned aerial vehicle – a 24×33-meter drone, capable of carrying 1400kg of payload.

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