BM-30 Smerch

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BM-30 Smerch
RSZO Smertch.jpg
9A52-2 "Smerch" launch vehicle
Type Multiple rocket launcher
Place of origin  Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1989 – present
Production history
Designed 1980s
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 (Tornado) 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 It is expected to be superseded by the 9A52-4 Tornado.


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 a 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[edit]

  • Chassis: MAZ-543M (9A52-1) or MAZ-79111 (9A52-2)
  • Emplacement Time: 3 min
  • Displacement Time: 2 min
  • Launch Rate
Salvo Time: 12 rounds in 38 seconds
  • Reload Time: 20 min

Rocket projectiles[edit]

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 70 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 7.6 m 25 km 90 km


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

Former operators[edit]


  • 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.[16]

Similar systems[edit]

  • PHL96 - Aesthetically similar missile based on 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 advantage of Chinese vehicle is that it utilizes German diesel engine, transmission and hydraulics manufactured by Wanshan in China, after technologies transfer from ZF Friedrichshafen. The program actually begun in the late 1990s, with 96 in the designation reportedly means 1996, the year Chinese military first issued the requirement for a new long range SPMRLS, and went through major redesign changes when BM-30 Smerch was purchased.[17] Although dubbed by many Chinese as a guided self-propelled multiple rocket launching system (SPMRLS), PHL96 is actually not really a guided SPMRLS strictly speaking, because technically, none of rockets themselves of PHL96 is guided, the guidance is actually achieved via the sub-munitions, such as the 9M55K1 cluster munition that is guided.
  • A-100 - A 300 mm, 10-tube multiple rocket launcher developed by 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 PHL96. Only very limited number of PHL96 entered Chinese service because its successor PHL03, soon entered service shorter after. PHL03 is a highly digitized PHL96 with computerized fire control system (FCS), and the crew is increased to 4 from the original of 3 of BM-30/PHL96, entering service around 2004-2005,[18] only a year or two after its predecessor PHL96. The FCS of PHL03 incorporates and GPS/GLONASS, similar to that of Type 90A SPMRL. As with its predecessor PHL96, strictly speaking, PHL03 is not exactly a guided SPMRL because like PHL96, PHL03 does not have any guided rocket, and the guidance was achieved via sub-munitions.
  • AR-1 - Chinese development of PHL03. This is actually the first model in among the Chinese versions of BM-30 SPMRL that is a truly guided rocket system in that the rocket itself is guided by a simple primitive cascade inertial terminal guidance used on WS series SPMRL, which became standard for later Chinese versions. Russia had already developed a guided version of 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.[19]
  • AR-1A - Chinese development of AR-1. A 10 round version of AR-1, with 2 launching boxes each containing 5 expandable launching tubes. Once rockets are launched, the entire launch box is replaced, instead of individually reloading each tube in earlier version, thus greatly reducing the time to reload.[20][21]
  • A-100E - Export variant of AR-1A. In service with the Pakistan Army.
  • AR-2 - Chinese development of AR-1/1A manufactured by Norinco, with range increased to 130 km.[22]
  • AR-3 - Chinese development of AR-2 manufactured by Norinco, with caliber increased to 370 mm, but can also adopt 300 mm caliber as well. As with AR-1/1A/2, AR-3 adopts modular design by incorporating 2 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 5 launching tubes like earlier AR-1/1A/2, and when using 370 mm caliber rockets, each launching box contains 4 launching tubes.[23][24]

See also[edit]

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

  • Russia's Arms Catalog 2004

External links[edit]