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BM-30 Smerch

Multiple launch rocket system

BM-30 Smerch MLRS

The BM-30 Smerch was the most powerful multiple launch rocket system in the world

Entered service 1987
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 43.7 t
Length 12.37 m
Width 3.1 m
Height 3.1 m
Caliber 300-mm
Number of tubes 12
Rocket weight 800 kg
Warhead weight 280 kg
Firing range 20 - 70 km
Full salvo duration 38 s
Reloading time 36 minutes
Engine D12A-525A diesel
Engine power 525 hp
Maximum road speed 60 - 65 km/h
Range 850 - 900 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step ~ 0.6 m
Trench ~ 2 m
Fording 1 - 1.1 m


   The BM-30 Smerch (tornado) was developed in the early 1980s and was accepted to service with the Soviet Army in 1987. At the time it was the most powerful multiple launch rocket system in the world. Even today it remains one of the deadliest, if not the deadliest artillery rocket system. Currently Russian Army operates just over 100 of these artillery rocket systems. It saw combat during both Russian wars in Chechnya. Recently it saw combat in Ukraine and in Syria. Other operators are Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kuwait, Peru, Syria, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

   Russian designation for the whole artillery system is the 9K58, while the launching vehicle is the 9A52.

   The BM-30 Smerch has 12 tubes for 300-mm rockets. The standard rocket is 7.6 m long and weights 800 kg. This multiple launch rocket system has firing range of 20 - 70 km. Rockets are fitted with a range and direction correction system for better accuracy. A number of rockets are developed for this vehicle, including HE-FRAG, fuel-air explosive, incendiary, cluster with anti-personnel and anti-tank submunitions or self-guided anti-tank munitions. Launcher is capable of single or salvo firing.

   The Smerch proved to be extremely effective against concentration of troops and armored vehicles, artillery batteries, airfields and other area targets. A full salvo of a single launcher covers an area of up to 67 hectares. Sometimes the Smerch is even referred as weapon of mass destruction, as its rockets with cluster anti-personnel submunitions destroy every living creature.

   The Smerch launch vehicle is prepared for firing within 3 minutes. It takes the same amount of time to leave firing position. Rockets are launched directly form the cab, or remotely form the vehicle. A full salvo takes 38 seconds.

   The Smerch launching vehicle is based on the MAZ-543 8x8 heavy high mobility truck. Vehicle is powered by the D12A-525A 38.9-liter diesel engine, developing 525 horsepower. It is fitted with a central tyre inflation system.

   Reloading of the BM-30 is assisted by the 9T234-2 reloading vehicle. It is based on a similar modified MAZ-543A chassis. The reloading vehicle is fitted with hydraulic crane and carries a full set of 12 reload rockets. Reloading takes 36 minutes. A Smerch unit is typically composed of six launchers and six reloading vehicles. Reloading usually takes place away from the firing position, to avoid counter-battery fire.

   The fire control system of the Smerch, the Vivari, can function automatically or under manual control. The Vivari system is housed in a command vehicle and controls six launchers. It calculates ballistic and targeting data of each launcher.




   Smerch-M, improved multiple launch rocket system with new navigation and targeting systems. It is compatible with new extended-range, with a maximum range of up to 90 km. Recently it has been reported that improved rockets with a maximum reach of 120 km have been developed. The latest launcher variant of the Smerch-M has the designation 9A52-2. It is based on the MAZ-543M 8x8 heavy high mobility truck;

   9A52-2T Smerch, variant based on the Tatra 10x10 chassis. It is in service with the Indian Army;

   9A52-4 lighter variant of the Smerch, based on KamAZ 8x8 truck. It has a six-pack launcher for 300-mm rockets. The whole launching container is replaced after firing all rockets;

   Type 03 or PHL03 is a Chinese copy of the Smerch.

   Updated information and some of the images were sent us by SERGEI V. GUROV

   Thank you Sergei!

    Send us your own articles. Please visit guidelines for writers for more information.


Video of the Smerch multiple-launch rocket system

BM-30 Smerch MLRS

BM-30 Smerch MLRS

BM-30 Smerch MLRS

BM-30 Smerch MLRS

BM-30 Smerch MLRS

BM-30 Smerch MLRS

BM-30 Smerch MLRS

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