The principle of raising the position of a weapon so that it can fire over trees, hills, and other obstacles is a sound one. The only problem is stability, time and cost.
Due to the lack of a specialized crane weapon, Russian forces fighting in Ukraine improvised: the video shows a civilian crane parked in a forest in Ukraine, its “arm” raised high above the tree canopy , and an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) mounted on the barrel of the crane “arm”.
Missile placed on a barrel hanging on the arm of a crane – Source: X (TWITTER)
When it comes to ATGMs, visibility is everything. Most anti-tank missiles are guided by laser, radio, or direct commands relayed via a wire running from the rear of the missile.
Not only does the missile need to have a clear path to the target, but the operator also needs to be able to see both the missile and the target to complete the attack.
Russia’s rocket crane may be inconvenient, but it is responding to a sensible tactic.
Raising the ATGM firing platform can make a huge difference.
For example, the US Army’s M-2 combat vehicle is equipped on the turret with a double launcher for TOW wire-guided anti-tank missiles.
From the rails to the 3m high turret, the M-2 is 0.3m higher than the M-1 tank. The extra height makes the M-2 an excellent rocket launcher.
During World War II, the British army built a prototype crane vehicle called the Praying Mantis.
German designers later tried to improve this idea. In the 1970s, German industry developed the Panther anti-tank turret.
It is essentially a Leopard 1 tank chassis equipped with remotely fired anti-tank missiles fixed to a crane-like “arm” and is 18 meters high.
Ultimately, this project was abandoned for three reasons: the stability of the launcher while guiding the missile, the time required to establish and abandon the firing position, and finally the cost ratio -negative overall benefit.
The Russian revival of the crane-mounted anti-tank missile may not be the most stable launcher for guiding the missile.
In addition, the slow deployment time also makes it easy for the missile team to be detected and counterattacked by the enemy.
Cost is also an issue.
A brand new box truck can cost up to half a million dollars. It’s not exactly a usable vehicle, and it’s not one that’s easy to find in a war zone.