Watch Ukrainian soldiers use motorcycle sidecars for missile launches

Could they trouble the Russian invaders?
Ameya Paleja
A screen grab of the system being allegedly deployedWar Noir/Twitter

A video of a Ukrainian missile unit using non-standard tactical vehicles has emerged on social media. An unverified account on Twitter has shared the video of a six-man unit using motorcycle sidecars to carry an anti-tank guided missile system, The Drive reported.

Since the conflict began, allies have been helping Ukraine with a range of weapon systems that have helped the country stand up to Russia. U.K.-made anti-aircraft missile systems assisted in bringing down Russian helicopters, while U.S.-supplied Switchblade drones helped take out tanks.  

However, in addition to the weapons, the ingenuity of Ukrainians has also helped them push back against the Russian offense. Whether it is the use of indigenously developed drones or simply retrofitting sedans and trucks to be taken to the battlefield, as The Drive previously reported, Ukraine has thrown everything it can at the invaders. 

Missile men on motorcycles

The latest revelation shows an unspecified group of Ukrainian soldiers and no more than six people involved. The motorcycles in the video are Dnepr-brand MT-11 motorcycles, which are known for their off-road capabilities and were used with their sidecars for military applications in the past. 

The bike's origins can be traced back to the 1940s, when the former Soviet Union licensed its designs from the German company, BMW. Over decades, the design received upgrades and was manufactured at the Kyiv Motorcycle Plant and also made available as Cossack motorcycles in the U.K. However, with the fall of the Soviet Union, production dropped and what can be seen in the images above are remnants of that history. 

The anti-tank guided missile system is actually a Russian weapon called the Metis-M anti-tank missile system that was developed shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. It is a wire-guided system called the 9K115, which is an upgraded version of the 9K111 missile system that is used even today. 

The 9K115 uses a semi-automated command to line of sight (SACLOS) method to guide the 9M115 missile, providing electronic instructions to the latter throughout its flight path. The missile is equipped with high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead that can penetrate 460mm of armor. 

Does the combination work though? 

While individually, the motorcycle and the weapon work really well, the question really is if the combination works as a force multiplier on the ground. As can be seen towards the end of the clip, the anti-tank missile system is not really mounted on the sidecar of the motorcycle but merely placed on the tripod launcher that it conventionally used.  

So, the two-man team is basically meant to approach the target, set up the anti-tank missile system, fire, and then scoot away from the location. A motorcycle makes a great runaway vehicle when your weapon is also this small. Even with the sidecar, it can be used prior to the attack and placed strategically for a quick escape.