Jeffrey LewisSS-21 Debris In Georgia, Revisited

Hey, remember how much fun (more) we had trying to determine which Russian missiles were fired into Georgia from pictures of debris, such as this rocket body laying on an unfortunate sedan?

Well, the new NASIC slickee (aka Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat, 2009) reproduces this picture with the caption “Russian SS-21 Damage in Georgia Conflict.”

Congratulations, Sean O’Connor, you nailed it on the head at the time.


  1. emeris (History)

    I have a stupid question about this picture. At the time I was wondering if this missile didn’t work properly (as I assume the are designed to explode, not crush cars), but from that report I gather that this is only the bottom half of the missile. Is that correct? If so, why does it separate?

    I apologize if these things should be obvious.

  2. Major Lemon (History)

    Do me a favour Jeff. The whole thing was damn bad luck. It could have happened to anyone.

  3. anon

    Oh for crying out loud emeris. This SUV obviously did not meet the latest CAFE standards & was dealt with accordingly.

  4. Andy (History)

    There were at least a few dud SS-21’s. Here are some pictures of another, which an Estonian EOD team destroyed. Doesn’t say much for the quality of Soviet/Russian weaponry.

    There was a pretty significant EOD cleanup after the Georgian war which, sadly, has largely gone unrecognized.

  5. Anon.

    I’d say it carried a submunition warhead, dispensed the bomblets above the target area, and proceeded to crush the unfortunate ground vehicle.

  6. Alex (History)

    “such as this rocket body laying on an unfortunate sedan?”

    Its actually a Lada Niva 4WD.

  7. Jochen Schischka (History)


    Obviously because this particular missile had a cluster-warhead; note that the tip of the missile (“payload-shroud” would perhaps be more fitting in this case) is missing, although the Tochka/SS-21/Scarab doesn’t employ a seperating warhead (unneccessary at these short ranges). In other pictures of Tochka-wreckage from Georgia, additional pieces characteristical of a radar-fused submunitions-warhead can be identified (it looks to me that this was maybe the warhead-version used exclusively on Tochka during that conflict…).

    At least two other types of warhead are available for Tochka/SS-21/Scarab: a laser-fuzed “unitary” airburst-warhead (shaped-charge with additional fragmentation-effect might be a better description – that warhead is obviously intended for use against “harder” targets like airfield runways) and, of course, a radar-fuzed nuclear warhead – but using tactical nukes would certainly have been off-limits in Georgia.

  8. Gridlock (History)

    Much better is the full thread that ‘other’ SS-21 pics are from, which (I kid ye not) is entitled

    “I need some quick help on Russian Rockets”

    “Dear Members, I could use your extensive knowledge and immediate assistance with the following:

    Russian rocket, nose down in the dirt, approx. 7 meters long, with the following markings…”

    The internet is a truly wonderful place.

    Also, the picture of it sticking straight out of the ground like something from a Bugs Bunny cartoon is excellent.

  9. Andy (History)

    For some more on Russian SRBM use during the Georgia war, see this (pdf).