Ukraine’s military says that it has destroyed another Russian UR-77 Meteorit, a mine-clearing vehicle that the Kremlin has reportedly used as an offensive weapon to launch missiles.
Ukraine’s Operational Command South, a military formation covering much of the country’s southern region, said in a Facebook post on Friday that Ukrainian forces had eradicated the Soviet-era deminer in the forest outside of the northeastern Kharkiv region. The post follows a string of recent boisterous announcements by Ukrainian officials touting the destruction of Russian military equipment.
“It is worth noting that this is far from the first such trophy on the account of our fighters,” the command said in the post. “Since the beginning of the large-scale invasion of the Russian occupation forces, more than a dozen similar enemy vehicles have been captured and destroyed.”
Developed in the 1970s, the UR-77 Meteorit is intended to maintain troop advancements by clearing minefields, according to WeaponSystems.net. The armored vehicle uses a roof-mounted launcher to fire two line charges by rocket over minefields with the intent of detonating and clearing mines. The UR-77 Meteorit clears a 20-foot-wide path for advancing troops that can be as long as 300 feet.
The UR-77 Meteorit had been used by the Russian Army in its first and second war against a Chechnyan uprising and by the Kremlin-allied Syrian government against rebels. The Kremlin has also reportedly provided it to separatists fighting against Ukraine following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
The vehicle is manned by a driver and commander-operator and can successfully complete a demining in a matter of minutes while only taking 30 to 40 minutes to recharge, according to a Russian military website.
“However, in a real combat situation, it is rarely used in this way,” Ukraine’s Operational Command South said in the post. “A charge explosion does not give a 100% guarantee that the area is demined. In particular, mines that have double-thrust detonators or anti-personnel mines of tension action may remain intact. Also, magnetic and infrared mine detonators do not react to the blast wave.”
The command continued to say that Russian forces have used the UR-77 Meteorit against civilian infrastructure in Ukrainian cities. Reports have also emerged that the vehicle has been used offensively by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. These reports have not been independently verified by Newsweek.
Russian forces earlier in the conflict used the UR-77 Meteorit to target Ukrainian soldiers holed up in a college campus in the eastern city of Rubizhne, according to military news website Sofrep.
Despite its unassuming appearance, the UR-77 Meteorit launched 1,600 pounds of PVV-7 plastic explosives, trailed by a 90-meter-long explosive charge that detonated simultaneously, according to the website.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian government for comment.