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BM-30 Smerch

BM-30 Smerch
9A52-2 "Smerch" launch vehicle
Type Multiple rocket launcher
Place of origin  Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1989 – present
Production history
Designer Splav State Research and Production Enterprise
Designed 1980s
Manufacturer Splav State Research and Production Enterprise
Produced 1989 – present
Variants See Variants
Weight 43.7 t
Length 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
Width 3.05 m (10 ft)
Height 3.05 m (10 ft)
Crew 3

Caliber 300 mm (12 in)
Barrels 12
Maximum firing range 90 km (56 mi)

9M55 or 9M528 rockets
Engine V-12 diesel D12A-525A
525 hp (391 kW)
Suspension 8×8 wheeled
850 km (530 mi)
Speed 60 km/h (37 mph)
Launcher in raised position

The BM-30 Smerch (Russian: Смерч, "whirlwind") or 9A52-2 Smerch-M is a Soviet heavy multiple rocket launcher. The system is designed to defeat personnel, armored, and soft-skinned targets in concentration areas, artillery batteries, command posts and ammunition depots. It was created in the early 1980s and entered service in the Soviet Army in 1989.[1] When first observed by the West in 1983, it received the code MRL 280mm M1983. It is expected to be superseded by the 9A52-4 Tornado.


  • Operational history 1
  • Components 2
  • General characteristics 3
  • Rocket projectiles 4
  • Operators 5
    • Current operators 5.1
    • Former operators 5.2
  • Variants 6
  • Similar systems 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Operational history

The first confirmed combat uses of the Smerch were in two war zones in 2014. Syrian military forces used the system against rebel forces in 2014 during the Syrian civil war.[2] It was also used by Ukrainian government forces to deliver explosive and cluster munitions to Donetsk and Lugansk cities during the War in Donbass.[3][4] Several have been seen in use by pro-Russian rebels.[5][6]


The main components of the RSZO 9K58 "Smerch" system are the following:

  • Rockets 9M55 or 9M528 (in containers);
  • BM 9A52-2 launch vehicle;
  • TZM 9T234-2 transloader with an 850 kg crane and 12 spare rockets;
  • Automated fire control equipment in the command post 1K123 "Vivary";
  • Maintenance vehicle PM-2-70 MTO-V;
  • Set of arsenal equipment 9F819;
  • Training facilities 9F827 and 9F840.

The 300mm rockets with a firing range of 70 and 90 km and various warheads have been developed for the Smerch MLRS.

The 9A52-2 vehicle with the automated system ensures:

  • delivery of fire from an un-surveyed fire position;
  • laying of the launch tube cluster with the crew staying in the cabin and without using aiming points;
  • autonomous determination of an azimuth of the launch tube cluster’s longitudinal axis;
  • visual representation of graphical information for the launch tube cluster laying, the route of vehicle movement and location as well as a point of destination and direction of movement on the video terminal;
  • increase in MLRS survivability owing to reduced time of staying at a fire position;
  • increased comfort for the laying operator, especially in adverse weather conditions and at night;
  • increased independent operation owing to the navigation and survey equipment, which allows the vehicle to rapidly change fire positions and move autonomously;
  • reduction of the combat crew.

General characteristics

  • Chassis: MAZ-543M or MAZ-79111
  • Emplacement Time: 3 min
  • Displacement Time: 2 min
  • Launch Rate
Salvo Time: 12 rounds in 38 seconds
  • Reload Time: 20 min

Rocket projectiles

Variant Rocket Warhead Self-destruct time Range
Name Type Weight Length Weight Submunition Min. Max.
9M55K Cluster munition, anti-personnel 800 kg 7.6 m 243 kg 72 × 1.75 kg, each with 96 fragments (4.5 g each) 110 sec 20 km 50 km
9M55K1 Cluster munition, self-guided anti-tank 243 kg 5 × 15 kg
9M55K4 Cluster munition, AT minelets. 243 kg 25 × 5 kg mines 24 hour
9M55K5 HEAT/HE-Fragmentation. 243 kg 646 × 0.25 kg (up to 120 mm RHA armor piercing) 260 sec
9M55F separable HE-Fragmentation 258 kg
9M55C Thermobaric 243 kg
9M528 HE-Fragmentation 815 kg 243 kg 25 km 90 km


Map of BM-30 operators in blue with former operators in red
Ukrainian BM-30 Smerch launchers during a military parade
Kuwaiti BM-30 Smerch launchers during a military parade in Kuwait
Indian BM-30 Smerch launchers on Indian built Tatra trucks during a military parade

Current operators

  • - 20 systems in 1999.
  • - 30 systems.[7]
  • - 48 systems in 1990.[8]
  • - 42 9A52-2T systems in service. Total cost $750 million.
  • [9]
  • - 27 systems in 1996.
  • - 36 systems PHL03/AR2 Chinese version.[10][11]
  • - 36 A-100E MLRS systems in service.[12] To be locally produced by Supako factory, Karachi.[13]
  • - 106.[14]
  • - Unknown number, used in the Syrian civil war.[15]
  • - Unknown number of A-100 MLRS in service.[16][17]
  • - 6 systems 9A52-2T in 2008/2009.[18]
  • - 80.[19]
  • - 6 systems.
  • - 12 systems.[20]

Former operators

  • : Passed on to successor states.


  • 9A52-4 - Lighter, airmobile version on KamAZ-6350 truck with modular 6-round rocket pack. Demonstrated in 2007.
  • 9A52-2T - Export version, based on the Tatra T816 10x10 truck.[21]

Similar systems

  • PHL96 - Aesthetically similar missile based on the Wanshan WS-2400 8 x 8 cross country truck. However, the PHL03 and BM30 do not share interchangeable parts, so they are distinct missiles despite their similar appearance. The Chinese vehicle utilizes a German-designed diesel engine, transmission and hydraulics, manufactured by Wanshan in China, following a technology transfer from ZF Friedrichshafen. The program actually begun in the late 1990s, with the '96' in the designation reportedly meaning 1996, the year that the Chinese military first issued the requirement for a new long range SPMRLS. The program went through major redesign changes when the BM-30 Smerch was purchased.[22] Although dubbed by many Chinese as a guided self-propelled multiple rocket launching system (SPMRLS), the PHL96 is not strictly speaking a guided SPMRLS because, technically, none of rockets are guided - the guidance is actually achieved via the sub-munitions, such as the 9M55K1 cluster munition. Only a very limited number of the PHL96 entered Chinese service because its successor, the PHL03, entered service shortly after.
  • A-100 - A 300 mm, 10-tube multiple rocket launcher developed by the Beijing-based China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) in the late 1990s. The A-100 has a minimum firing range of 40 km & a maximum firing range of 100 km.
  • PHL03 - Chinese development of the PHL96. The PHL03 is a highly digitized PHL96 with a computerized fire control system (FCS) incorporating GPS/GLONASS, similar to that of the Type 90A SPMRL, with a four-man crew (compared with three for the BM-30/PHL96), which entered service around 2004-2005,[23] only a year or two after its predecessor, the PHL96. As with the PHL96, the PHL03 is not exactly a guided SPMRL because it is the submunitions that are guided, not the rockets themselves.
  • AR-1 - Chinese development of the PHL03. This is actually the first model of the Chinese versions of the BM-30 SPMRL that is a truly a guided rocket system, in that the rockets themselves are guided by the simple primitive cascade inertial terminal guidance used on the WS series SPMRL, which became standard for later Chinese versions. Russia had already developed a guided version of the BM-30 with mid-course radio command guidance to immediately correct the error in the flight of the rocket once detected by the ballistic tracking radar, but this was not adopted due to financial constraints.[24]
  • AR-1A - Chinese development of the AR-1. A 10 round version of the AR-1, with two launching boxes, each containing five expandable launching tubes. Once rockets are launched, the entire launch box is replaced, instead of individually reloading each tube as in earlier versions, thus greatly reducing the reload time.[25][26]
  • A-100E - Export variant of the AR-1A. In service with the Pakistan Army.
  • AR-2 - Chinese development of the AR-1/1A manufactured by Norinco, with range increased to 130 km.[27]
  • AR-3 - Chinese development of the AR-2 manufactured by Norinco, with its caliber increased to 370 mm; although it can still fire the 300 mm rockets. As with the AR-1/1A/2, the AR-3 adopts a modular design by incorporating two launching boxes containing several launching tubes, with the launching boxes replaced after the launching of rockets. When using 300 mm caliber rockets, each launching box contains five launching tubes like the earlier AR-1/1A/2, and when using 370 mm caliber rockets, each launching box contains four launching tubes.[28][29]

See also

BM-30 Smerch with projectile as a monument to A.N. Ganichev in Tula city


External video
300mm Smerch Multiple Rocket Launcher:
0:48 - Cluster - fragmentation
1:30 - Separable HE-Frag warhead
2:00 - Cluster - self-guided EFP (AT) elements
3:00 - Cluster - anti-tank mines
3:30 - Cluster - shaped charge/frag elements
3:50 - Unmanned aerial vehicle
5:20 - Thermobaric warhead
  1. ^ (Russian) MLRS Smerch
  2. ^ Syria’s BM-30 Smerchs, emerging from the shadows Dec 27, 2014
  3. ^ Ukraine: Rising Civilian Toll in Luhansk
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Belarus Army Equipment
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ United Nations Register of Conventional Arms
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Russian Army Equipment
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ The Military Balance 2010. p.-372
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ AR-2 SPMRL
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ 370 mm MRLS Multiple rocket launcher system(Army recognition)
  • Russia's Arms Catalog 2004

External links

  • Smerch - 9A52 - 300mm multi-barreled rocket launcher – Walk around photos
  • Splav State Research and Production Enterprise
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