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Top 10 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems

 

   The multiple launch rocket systems are designed to engage important area targets behind enemy lines. These targets could be airfields, command centers, support facilities, air defense and artillery batteries, concentrations of troops and so on. So which is the best artillery rocket system in the world? Which is most powerful system of this type and why? This Top 10 analysis is based on a combined score of  firepower, range and accuracy.

   Currently top 10 multiple launch rocket systems in the world are these:

 

Best multiple launch artillery rocket system

Nr.1 PHL 03 (China)

 

   The PHL 03 is a Chinese artillery rocket system. It is a copy of the Soviet Smerch. It reportedly entered service with the Chinese army in 2004-2005. The PHL 03 is also being proposed for the export customers as the AR2. It has been exported to Morocco (one battalion with 36 units).

   The PHL 03 has 12 tubes for 300 mm rockets. A standard rocket weights around 800 kg and has a 280 kg warhead. Maximum range of fire is 70-130 km depending on the warhead type. Though some sources report that rockets of this system has a maximum range of 150 km. Rockets are available with High Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG), fuel-air explosive, and cluster warheads with anti-armor and anti-personnel submunitions. Cluster warheads may also carry self-targeting anti-tank munitions. A full salvo of this system could potentially cover an area of up to 67 hectares.

   Even though the PHL 03 is a Chinese version of the Smerch, it appears that Chinese overtook Russians in terms of rockets, as rockets of the PHL 03 have longer range than those of the Smerch. Manufacturers claim, that Chinese 300 mm rockets are not compatible with the Russian Smerch rockets as these use different propellant motors and components.

   This artillery rocket system has a digital fire control system. The PHL 03 is operated by a crew of 4.

   The PHL 03 is based on a Wanshan WS2400 special wheeled chassis with 8x8 configuration. This military vehicle has good cross-country mobility and can travel off-road.

   This artillery rocket system paved the way for a number of Chinese versions, including AR1, AR1A and the AR3, which is currently the most powerful system of this type.

 

 

Top 10 multiple launch artillery rocket systems

Nr.2 Uragan-1M (Russia)

 

   The Uragan-1M (Hurricane-1M) is a recent Russian artillery rocket system. It was developed to replace both ageing Uragan 220 mm system that was adopted back in 1975, and Smerch 300 mm system that was adopted in 1987. Both of these systems become increasingly hard to maintain and keep in operational service due to their age. The Uragan-1M was first publicly revealed in 2016. It might become operational in the near future.

   The Uragan-1M is a multi-caliber system. It can carry 2 pods with various rockets, including pods with 300 mm rockets of the Smerch and 220 mm rockets of the Uragan. A universal MLRS concept offers advantage of simpler logistics and flexibility. Pods with launch tubes are removed and replaced after all rockets are launched. The pods are faster to reload, easier to store and to maintain. Though there were also developed reusable 300 mm launcher packs that can be reloaded with individual rockets by a reloading vehicle in field conditions.

   There are a total of 12 launch tubes for 300 mm rockets. Each of these rockets weights 800 kg and has a 280 kg warhead. A number of warheads are available, including HE-FRAG, fuel-air explosive, incendiary, cluster with anti-personnel and anti-tank submunitions or self-guided anti-tank munitions. Maximum range of fire is 70 km with ordinary and 90 km with extended-range rockets. Some sources report that the Uragan-1M can also use newly-developed 300 mm rockets with a maximum range of 120 km. A full salvo of this system covers an area of up to 67 hectares.

   The Uragan-1M is based on a Belarusian MZKT-7930 special wheeled chassis with 8x8 configuration.

 

 

Most powerful multiple launch artillery rocket system

Nr.3 Smerch (Soviet Union)

 

   The Smerch (Tornado) was introduced back in the 1980s. At the time it was the most powerful multiple launch rocket system in the world. It is used by a number of countries. After 30 years of service it remains an extremely capable and devastating system. However it becomes increasingly hard to maintain operational Smerch systems due to their age.

   The Smerch has 12 tubes for 300 mm artillery rockets. Originally this multiple launch rocket system had a range of 70 km. Though this range was extended to 90 km on improved Smerch-M system. Recently it has been reported that Russia developed further improved 300 mm rockets with a maximum range of 120 km. A number of warheads were developed for this system, including HE-FRAG, fuel-air explosive, incendiary, cluster with anti-personnel and anti-tank submunitions or self-guided anti-tank munitions.

   Launcher vehicle of the Smerch is based on a MAZ-543M heavy high mobility chassis with 8x8 configuration. A Smerch unit is typically composed of 6 launcher vehicles and 6 reloading vehicles.

   The Smerch paved the way for a number of artillery rocket system, including a Russian 9A52-4 Tornado. There is also a 2A52-2T, based on a Tatra 10x10 chassis. It is used by the Indian army. China adopted a clone of the Smerch, called the PHL 03.

 

 

Deadliest multiple launch artillery rocket system

Nr.4 PHL-16 (China)

 

   In 2019 a new artillery rocket system was first publicly revealed in China. Its official designation is still unknown. Some sources refer it as the PHL-16 or PCH-191. It is a modified version of the previous AR3, that was offered for export customers. This system is already in service with the China's army. Currently it is one of the most powerful systems in the world its class.

   The PHL-16 uses 370 mm guided rockets. These have a maximum range of 220 km. As far as the system uses pods with missiles, it can be configured to use rockets of different caliber. Some sources report that it is capable of launching tactical ballistic missiles and anti-ship missiles. The previous AR3 can also carry pods with 300 mm rockets, Fire Dragon 480 tactical ballistic missiles and TL-7B anti-ship missiles.

   Vehicle has an armored cab which provides some degree of protection for the crew from small arms fire and artillery shell splinters.

 

 

 

Greatest multiple launch artillery rocket system

Nr.5 AR-1A (China)

 

   The AR1A multiple launch rocket system was developed from an A100, which was introduced during the late 1990s, but was not adopted by the Chinese army. The AR1A artillery rocket system was first demonstrated in 2009. It is a modular system, based on the Russian Smerch technology. The AR1A is being proposed for export customers. Recently it was reported that Armenia ordered unspecified number of these artillery rocket systems.

   The AR1A has re-arranged rocket tubes, comparing with its predecessor, the A100. These are reloaded as two complete box-shaped pods. Each pod contains 5 launching tubes for 300 mm rockets. Rockets are factory-fitted and sealed inside these pods. Once all the rockets are launched the pods are removed and replaced. Maximum range of fire is up to 130 km.

   This artillery rocket system is also compatible with pods of the AR3 system with 370 mm rockets.

   The launcher vehicle is based on a Wanshan WS2400 special wheeled chassis with 8x8 configuration.

 

 

Top 10 multiple launch artillery rocket systems

Nr.6 WS-2 (China)

 

   The WS-2 or WeiShi-2 (Guardian-2) is another Chinese multiple launch rocket system. It  was revealed in 2008. It was aimed at export customers. Some sources report that a number of these artillery rocket systems were exported to Sudan.

   It is fitted with 6 launchers for 400 mm artillery rockets. This artillery system has got no launching rails. The rockets are fired from containers. Rockets are factory fitted and sealed  and can be stored in these containers for years, as these do not require additional maintenance. Once all the rockets are launched these containers are removed and replaced.

   A standard 400 mm rocket has a maximum range of 200 km. It can be equipped with various warheads, including anti-personnel, anti-armor or fuel air explosive. These rockets have a simple inertial guidance system, but can also use Chinese Baidu satellite navigation system for mid-course guidance. There is also a capability to use terminal guidance for further increase of accuracy. At maximum range rockets are accurate to 600 m.

   The WS-2 launcher is based on the Taian TAS5450 high mobility truck chassis with 8x8  configuration.

 

 

Best multiple launch artillery rocket system

Nr.7 A200 (China)

 

   The A200 is one of the latest Chinese artillery rocket systems. It is a further development of the A100. The new system has increased range of fire. It is being proposed for export customers. Belarus obtained a number of these rocket systems. However these are based on indigenous 8x8 heavy high mobility chassis and are locally known as the Polonez. These systems were first publicly revealed in Belarus in 2015 and full-scale deliveries were planned to begin in 2016. It seems that Chinese army showed no interest to the A200, but selected for production a newer and more capable A300 system.

   The launcher vehicle carries a total of 8 containers with 300 mm rockets. The rockets have a maximum range of 200 km. Rockets have inertial guidance with satellite navigation update. CEP is around 30 meters. So these rockets are very accurate even at maximum range. The A200 rockets carry warheads that weight around 100-150 kg. Three types of warheads are available.

   The A200 is a modular system, that can also use other pods with different rockets. This system is also capable of carrying and launching 2 containers with Chinese M20 short-range ballistic missiles. The M20 missile has a range of 280 km and can carry a 480 kg warhead. This missile is nuclear capable.

   This artillery system is operated by a crew of 3 to 5 men, depending on the vehicle it is based on. It can use Chinese Taian TA5450, Wanshan WS2400 or similar 8x8 heavy high mobility chassis, that has a payload capacity of around 20 t.

 

 

The best MLRS system

Nr.8 A100 (China)

 

   The A100 was a Chinese attempt to create an indigenous long-range artillery rocket system, similar to the Soviet Smerch. In many respects it is similar to the Smerch - the A100 fires 300 mm rockets and is based on a heavy high mobility truck chassis. However manufacturers insist that it is completely different system. The A100 was trialed by the Chinese army, however the PHL03 was selected instead. The A100 was proposed for export customers. Its improved version has been exported to Pakistan and Tanzania.

   The A100 artillery rocket system has 10 launch tubes for 300 mm artillery rockets (the original Smerch has 12 tubes). The A100 MLRS has a maximum range of 120 km.

   An early version of the A100 launcher vehicle was based on a Taian TA580 special wheeled chassis with 8x8 configuration. However improved artillery systems exported to Pakistan and Tanzania were based on a newer Taian TAS4500 special wheeled chassis with 8x8 configuration.

   The AR1A is an improved version of the A100 with re-arranged rocket tubes. It has 2 pods with a total of 10 rockets.

 

 

Greatest multiple launch artillery rocket systems

Nr.9 KN-25 (North Korea)

 

   Recently a new heavy artillery rocket system emerged in North Korea. Some sources refer it as KN-25, although this is provisional name. Its actual designation is different. This system uses extremely large guided artillery rockets, that are around 500-600 mm in diameter. So far it is the most powerful multiple launch system, ever fielded by North Korea. A number of test launches were made in 2019 and 2020. Actual status of this system is unclear. It is unknown whether it is still being tested or is already in operational service with the North Korean military.

   This North Korean artillery system uses very large guided artillery rockets. These could be one of the largest artillery rockets of their type ever fielded by any other country. The KN-25 can be even seen as a short-range ballistic missile system. During test launches rockets of this new North Korean system demonstrated a range of 240 km. It is estimated that these rockets have a range of up to 400 km. If these estimates are correct it means that this rocket system covers most territory of South Korea. Rockets use inertial and satellite navigation system for guidance.

   This new artillery rocket system is based on a modified Tatra's chassis. It is clearly seen by a unique Tatra's independent suspension. It could be a heavily modified version of the Tatra T815 Kolos military truck.

 

 

Best 10 multiple launch artillery rocket systems

Nr.10 KN-09 (North Korea)

 

   In 2014 there were reports from South Korean intelligence that North Korea is testing a new large-caliber artillery rocket system of new type. This artillery rocket system was first publicly revealed in 2015. Some sources refer it as the KN-09, though it is not its actual designation but rather a provisional name. A couple of launcher vehicles were publicly displayed, however current status of this artillery rocket systems or its production numbers are unknown. Its exact specifications are also unconfirmed.

   So far it is the most powerful multiple launch rocket system developed by North Korea. This country also operates M1985 and M1991 artillery rocket systems that use 240 mm rockets. Though these two systems are less capable and have shorter range. The new 300 mm artillery rocket system is among the most capable systems of its type in the world.

   This artillery rocket system has a total of 8 launch tubes for 300 mm artillery rockets. Most likely that this North Korean system uses Chinese SY-300 artillery rockets. These have a range of up to 130 km. The SY-300 rockets are accurate out to 200 meters using inertial guidance system, and out to 50 meters using inertial guidance system with Baidu satellite navigation system update. The rocket can carry High Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG), cluster rockets with scatterable anti-tank or anti-personnel mines, and even chemical warheads.

   This North Korean artillery rocket system is based on a Chinese HOWO heavy-duty commercial truck with 6x6 configuration. In North Korea this truck was repurposed for military applications. This vehicle has some degree of cross-country mobility.

 

 

 

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