A Creative Use of Resources

Norway has recently donated Mistral man portable air defense systems (MANPADS) to Ukraine. This includes at least 100 missiles and an unspecified number of launchers. To make these air defense systems mobile, the Ukrainians are marrying them with an undisclosed number of Fiat Fullback 4×4 pickup trucks donated to them by the Come Back Alive Foundations. Innovation at work.

Image and text courtesy of Twitter and @CiroNappi6

Come Back Alive

Founded by IT specialist Vitaliy Deyneg in 2014, the Come Back Alive foundation is a crowdfunded organization in Ukraine that started out of necessity shortly after Russia seized Crimea. It has no official ties to the government of Ukraine. Initially, they began supporting the Ukrainian armed forces by gathering the money necessary to obtain and deliver supplies and technologies as varied as bulletproof vests and thermal optics.

By delivering the pickup trucks, the organization intends to promote the implementation of “mobile fire groups” after equipping them with trained operators and French-made MANPADS. This will give the Ukrainians yet another weapon in their ever-increasing arsenal to limit any aerial threats posed by the Russian invaders.

The following statement appears on their site:

“Ukraine is the Shield of Europe. We are convinced that threat to freedom anywhere means threat to freedom all around the world.”
I personally believe that to be the case, so I tossed in a couple of bucks to help their cause.

The foundation has posted photos on social media (such as the one above) showing the Fullback mounted Mistrals to the world. They have also posted information from Valery Zaluzhny, commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, saying that the Mistrals have helped Ukrainian forces take down at least 20 Russian UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) worth about $20 million. Keep in mind that independent sources have not verified these numbers, and I’m sure they are different at the time of this posting. Suffice it to say; the weapons have been quite effective.

You can see the “Come Back Alive” logo on the hood of the Fullbacks. It’s truly an international effort. Image Credit: conservativedailynews.net

Shoot and Scoot

Mobility is absolutely essential on the modern battlefield. Once shots are fired from a fixed location, it would be best to get away from the said location before munitions come raining down on it. The Fullback-Mistral combo is perfect for that. And the fact that it can be easily concealed with camo netting means that it will be a more challenging target to find before shots are fired.

The particular missile systems donated by Norway came from their Navy and were supplied from portable seated launch systems that could also be used on land. This is how they could be paired with the pickups so easily. However, because of their size and configuration, they were not as easily portable as other MANPADS, and mounting them on trucks turned them into a highly agile surface-to-air missile (SAM) firing platform.

Andriy Rymaruk, head of the foundation’s military department, said recently in a Facebook post:

“Mobile fire groups with MANPADS and ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) must be fast. They are destroying enemy drones and helicopters, and in the future, they will also cover the Russian fighter jets. They are working, in particular, with Stingers and 9K38 Igla systems. And this kind of work really needs mobility. That’s why we are donating new, not used, vehicles to those groups. These vehicles are serviceable and fast, and could assist in hitting the moving targets.”

MANPADS have proven to be invaluable in the Ukrainian defense of their nation. To say they have been put to extensive use would be an understatement. As a result, Ukrainian forces are becoming famous for their high efficiency at fire and move tactics. And they will have lots of opportunities to practice that skill in the future; Ukraine now has the most extensive and diverse MANPADS arsenal on the planet.

It’s impossible to underestimate the value of civilian donations to their war effort. It is literally, to this point, helping to prevent their independent nation from becoming another Russian state. In this particular case, with the help of the people of the world, a pretty bulky weapons system, like the Mistral provided by the Norwegian Navy, turned its size into an advantage by mounting them on crowdsourced new pickups.

Necessity is indeed still the mother of invention, or in this case, innovation.