Despite many difficulties, the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) still developed a powerful “thermobaric” multiple rocket launcher called Cheburashka.
Cheburashka has partly demonstrated significant strength in the Ukrainian battlefield. A video on Twitter on September 29, 2022 shows the 217mm Cheburashka thermobaric rocket launchers firing at Ukrainian military positions in Donbas.
Since its inception, DPR has strived to independently manufacture and assemble the necessary weapons and military equipment. Over time, they managed to switch from manual assembly to fully industrial manufacturing, meeting their own needs. Cheburashka is a very powerful multi-barrel thermobaric rocket system. Thermobaric shells generate more heat and pressure than other weapons by causing strong vapors in the explosion area.
The Cheburashka is a 217mm Multiple Rocket launcher System that was for the first time to the public in May 2018. The Cheburashka MLRS can fire thermobaric rocket which is considered as the most destructive conventional ammunition. Thermobaric munitions are those munitions that, by design, produce more heat and overpressure than conventional explosives by exploding a vapor in the blast zone. The thermobaric rockets are also fired by the TOS-1A flamethrower 220mm MLRS which is also used by Russian troops deployed in Ukraine.
Based on the published images, the Cheburashka is mounted on a KrAZ-260 6×6 military truck chassis with two launcher pods mounted at the rear of the truck chassis. Each pod consists of 32 tube launchers with four layers each with 8 tubes. The Cheburashka MLRS is able to launch thermobaric rockets at a range of up 9,600 m.
Experts and the public have paid close attention to Cheburashka. In a difficult wartime condition, DPR made a rather complicated weapon almost entirely from scratch. With 2 launchers on a truck, equivalent to 64 launchers, this system can load more rockets than other systems. In addition, it can launch in two different directions, so it is very flexible in combat.
Despite its short range, in relative terms, the Cheburashka warhead has a large size and high explosive power, creating a firestorm when firing at a narrow range. Cheburashka uses its own ammunition with a special caliber of 217mm. The crew consists of 6 people. The weight of the whole system is more than 26 tons. The length, width and height of this system are 8.7m, 2.7m and 3.1m, respectively.
Perhaps due to the complexity of this weapon, it has not yet been produced in large numbers. However, even in small numbers, Cheburashka still has a significant effect on the battlefield.