S-5 rockets were used extensively by Sukhoi Su-25 and Mil Mi-24 aircraft in Afghanistan in the 1980s, where their effectiveness was considered poor. Pilots described the rockets fanning out after launch "like a tulip", and that the warhead was only good for "tickling the dookhi's (mujahedeen) heels". The Russian forces have shifted to higher-calibre weapons like the S-8 rocket instead.
On Sunday, 6 January 2009, The Israel Defense Forces identified a rocket fired at Israel earlier in the day by militants in the Gaza Strip as a Russian-made S5K, the type used in battle in Iran and Afghanistan.
According to the IDF, the rocket fired at Kibbutz Alumim in the Negev marked the first time militants in Gaza have used this type of weapon. Although this type is intended to be launched aerially, said the IDF, Gaza militants on Sunday chose to launch their rocket from on-the-ground. Unlike a Qassam rocket, the S5K contains more explosives, but is less precise.
S-5, along with S-8 and S-13 rockets, have been deployed from the backs of pick-up trucks (generally, technicals) during the 2011 Libyan civil war, serving as a makeshift MLRS. The rebels have also developed a man-portable launcher for the S-5, turning the rocket into a makeshift RPG round.
The S-5 has seen use by the Syrian Air Force against opposition forces in the Syrian civil war.