Shoulder-Fired S5K Rockets -The Firearm Blog

The S5 rocket family is unguided Soviet-made air-to-ground rockets and which comes in different warhead variants, primarily S5M (fragmentation warhead) and S5K (HEAT) warhead.

The rocket is 55mm caliber but launched from 57mm tube, and is normally used by jet fighters, bombers and helicopters. You can learn more about the rocket design and construction at:

S5K rockets

In this article we will focus on the S5K variant (commonly known in the Middle East as C5K since the Russian letter S is written like C in English).   When America invaded Iraq, the insurgents knew that RPG-7 wouldn’t stand a chance against the M1A2 Abrams MBT and the challenge was up to create a man-pad weapon capable to counter the Abrams or at least make a difference when they face each other in battle.

The reason of why exactly a man-pad is because that’s the only suitable solution for guerrilla warriors which is also the only solution to face the very technologically advanced US Army (in which tanks and jet fighters would need to be eliminated once spotted).  Not that this proved to be even remotely effective.

Iraq had stockpiles loaded with C5K in their warehouses, so the solution was adapting/modifying the air-to-ground rockets to be shoulder-fired by a single man.  The modification is quite simple since the rocket is electrically launched there must be a power supply attached to the launching tube, a 9 Volt battery connected to a switch trigger does the job effectively.


Saddam had tons of these rockets and they were first observed as man-pads in Falluja 2004, different versions were found including triple-barrel launchers, quad launchers with 4 tubes and of course a single tube launcher.

S5K Quad launcher found in Falluja-Iraq

A number of S5K launchers found in Falluja-2004

Saraya Saad (Saad Brigades) an Iraqi Sunni rebels/insurgents group got their hands on some of these rockets and they decided to implement them in every possible way, they made launchers with ordinary scopes for day use, another with night vision scope for night time, also they attached range determinants scopes with mil-dots for the on-move targets. They claim that it can penetrate 15cm in armor.

S5K launcher with a night vision scope-Saraya Saad

According to a video footage they released, one major problem was the outstanding recoil resulted from launching a rocket that was designed to be fired from an aircraft, their solution for that challenge was by drilling 8mm holes diameter and 20cm length on the launcher’s fore-end to disperse the recoil (much like a muzzle brake or flash suppressor on rifles) also by adding two grips to the launcher instead of one.

8mm holes on the fore-end for recoil dispersion-Saraya Saad

Saad Brigades also implemented S5K’s as short-range ballistic missiles and made Multiple Rocket Launchers but their accuracy in that role is still questionable due to the folding fins.  They even made a shooting solution document for them after exper withimenting elevations and ranges.

S5K used as a ballistic rocket with rainbow trajectory-Saraya Saad

S5K MRL can launch from 4 to 16 rockets-Saraya Saad


Libyan rebels also used S5K rockets as man-pads since Qazzafi also had loads of S5 rockets for his MiG fighters, and when his bases fallen in the hands of the rebels during Libyan revolution and civil war they used them against his forces.

Libyan rebel demonstrating his S5K launcher

Electric trigger, note the 9V battery pointed at with red arrow and the switch button with blue arrow

S5K portable launchers at Libyan rebels camp

Another Libyan rebel demonstrating his own made S5K launcher



Some of the Libyan S5 rockets had found their way to Gaza strip in Palestine, with not much info showing the major Palestinian military wings using it, such as Qassam brigades, Saraya Al-Quds or Al-Nasser Saladin brigades, but it has been used by a minor group called Jaysh Al-Mujahideen or Mujahideen Army, they named it as Sa’eer launcher.

Sa’eer launcher demonstrated by an individual of Mujahideen Army in Gaza

The launcher appears like the German Panzerschreck with its blast shield and aiming hole, they also made an aiming tube/domestic scope to help for better accuracy, also a soft material was wrapped around the launcher for the shooter’s comfort.

There are not available info yet about hits against Israeli armors by this launcher.

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