BM-30 Smerch

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BM-30 Smerch
RSZO Smertch.jpg
9A52-2 "Smerch" launch vehicle
TypeMultiple rocket launcher
Place of originSoviet Union, Russia
Service history
In service1989–present
Used bySee Operators
WarsSecond Chechen War
War in Donbas
Syrian Civil War[1]
2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war
Production history
DesignerSplav State Research and Production Enterprise
ManufacturerSplav State Research and Production Enterprise
VariantsSee Variants
Mass43.7 t
Length12 m (39 ft 4 in)
Width3.05 m (10 ft)
Height3.05 m (10 ft)

Caliber300 mm (12 in)
Maximum firing range90 km (56 mi)

9M55 or 9M528 rockets
EngineD12A-525A V12 diesel engine
525 hp (391 kW)
Suspension8×8 wheeled
850 km (530 mi)
Maximum speed 60 km/h (37 mph)
9K58 «Smerch» in Saint-Petersburg Artillery museum
9T234-2 transporter-loader of 9K58
9A52-2 launch vehicle of 9K58 / BM-30 Smerch MLRS
9K58 Smerch (IDELF-2008 - Ministry of Defence of Russia exposition)

The BM-30 Smerch (Russian: Смерч, "tornado", "whirlwind"), 9K58 Smerch or 9A52-2 Smerch-M is a Soviet heavy multiple rocket launcher. The system is intended to defeat personnel, armored, and soft targets in concentration areas, artillery batteries, command posts and ammunition depots. It was designed in the early 1980s and entered service in the Soviet Army in 1989.[2] When first observed by the West in 1983, it received the code MRL 280mm M1983. It continued in use by Russia; a program to replace it by the 9A52-4 Tornado was launched in 2018.[3]

Operational history[edit]

The first confirmed combat uses of the Smerch were in two war zones in 2014. Syrian military forces used the system against rebel forces during the Syrian civil war, including in fighting in Jobar.[4] It was also used by Russia-backed militants to deliver explosive and cluster munitions to Ukrainian military positions and by the Ukrainian Army against populated areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the War in Donbas.[5][6] Several have been seen in use by pro-Russian rebels.[7][8] The Russian Ground Forces used the BM-30 in Syria in October 2015 during the Russian intervention in Syria.[9]

During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia and Azerbaijan both targeted the other country's territory with Smerch rockets.[10] A number of Armenian Smerch rocket launchers were destroyed by Azerbaijani Harop loitering munitions and Bayraktar TB2 armed drones.[11]


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[edit]

  • 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[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 25 km 90 km


Indian BM-30 Smerch launchers on Indian built Tatra 816 trucks during a military parade
  • 9A52- Standard variant on MAZ-79111 truck.
  • 9A52-2 - Modified variant on MAZ-543M truck.
  • 9A52-2T - Export version, based on the Tatra T816 10x10 truck.[12]
  • 9A52-4 - Lighter, airmobile version on KamAZ-6350 truck with modular 6-round rocket pack. Demonstrated in 2007.
  • Arctic version with rockets mounted on DT-30PM tracked vehicle.[13]


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
Armenian BM-30 Smerch launchers during a military parade in Yerevan, 2016

Current operators[edit]

  •  Algeria - 50 systems in 1999.[14]
  •  Armenia - 6 systems. Received more as of 2018.[15]
  •  Azerbaijan - 40 systems.[16]
  •  Belarus - 48 systems in 1990.[17]
  •  China - Locally produced as the PHL03.
  •  India - Total 162 9A52-2T systems in service. The launchers for the Indian Army’s 9K58 Smerch 300 mm multiple rocket launch (MRL) systems are mounted on 81 Indian designed 10×10 high-mobility vehicles provided by Indian private-sector defence manufacturer Ashok Leyland. The vehicle, which is fitted with a hydraulic crane to reload the system, will supplement and eventually replace the 9A52-2 launch vehicles based on the MAZ-543M 8×8 truck chassis. The IA operates several launcher variants for the Smerch system, including around 162 9K58 Smerch batteries, each of which has six launch vehicles. Since 2012 India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board has produced several rocket variants for the system that have a strike range of 70 or 90 km.[18]
  •  Iraq - 0 systems in 2016.[19]
  •  Kazakhstan[20]
  •  Kuwait - 27 systems in 1996.
  •  Morocco - 36 systems PHL03/AR2 Chinese version.[21][22]
  •  Pakistan - 36 units, more produced locally as the A-100E with complete TOT, based on the Chinese A-100,[23]
  •  Russia - 106.[24] More in production.[25][26]
  •  Syria - Unknown number, used in the Syrian civil war.[27]
  •  Turkmenistan - 6 systems 9A52-2T in 2008/2009.[28]
  •  Ukraine - 80.[29]
  •  United Arab Emirates - 6 systems.
  •  Venezuela - 12 systems.[30]

Former operators[edit]

Similar systems[edit]

  • PHL-96 - Visually similar missile based on the Wanshan WS-2400 8 x 8 cross country truck. However, the PHL-03 and BM-30 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.[31] 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.
PHL-03 heavy multiple rocket launcher.
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • PHL-03 - Chinese development of the PHL96 with 150 km range.[32] 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, only a year or two after its predecessor, the PHL96.[citation needed] As with the PHL96, the PHL03 is not exactly a guided SPMRL because it is the submunitions that are guided, not the rockets themselves.[citation needed]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 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.[33][34]
  • A-100E - Export variant of the AR-1A. In service with the Pakistan Army.[citation needed]
  • AR-2 - Chinese development of the AR-1/1A manufactured by Norinco, with range increased to 130 km.[35]
  • AR-3 - Chinese system manufactured by Norinco launching 300 mm or 370 mm rockets[36]

See also[edit]

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


External video
video icon 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. ^ BM-30 Smerch and BM-27 Uragan of Syrian Army shooting at IS positions in Palmyra - Syria on YouTube
  2. ^ "Военная кафедра МЭСИ" [MESI Military Department]. (in Russian). 23 December 2007. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  3. ^ Dmitry Fediushko (20 November 2018). "Russia refits Missile Troops and Artillery". Archived from the original on 25 November 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2018.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ "Syria's BM-30 Smerchs, emerging from the shadows". bellingcat. 27 December 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Ukraine: Rising Civilian Toll in Luhansk". Archived from the original on 1 September 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "[1152] Makeevka: Smerch". Bellingcat Vehicles. 22 January 2015. Archived from the original on 11 February 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  8. ^ "[1154] Makeevka: Smerch". Bellingcat Vehicles. 22 January 2015. Archived from the original on 11 February 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Russian Troops Fire Artillery and Rockets in Syria". ABC News. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  10. ^ ‘Then I Heard a Boom’: Heavy Weapons Take Toll on Civilians in Armenia-Azerbaijan Clash' Kramer, Andrew E. New York Times, 5 Oct 2020. Retrieved 8 Oct 2020.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 February 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Russian army Arctic brigade will be equipped with Grad & Smerch MLRS on DT-30PM". Defense Security global news industry army 2018. 14 July 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 September 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Belarus Army Equipment". Archived from the original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2007.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 August 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Армия и ОПК". ТАСС (in Russian). 14 August 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "China Providing AR2 Long-range MLRS to Morocco". Kanwa Daily News. Archived from the original on 25 September 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  22. ^ "United Nations Register of Conventional Arms". Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  23. ^ "Type A100". Global Security. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  24. ^ "Russian Army Equipment". Archived from the original on 26 June 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2007.
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Eliot Higgins (14 February 2014). "Evidence Of The Syrian Military Deploying BM-30 Smerch Launched Cluster Munitions". Brown Moses Blog. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
  28. ^ The Military Balance 2010. p.-372
  29. ^ "Міністерство". Міністерство оборони України. Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  30. ^ "Las Fuerzas Armadas de Venezuela reciben más armamento ruso". Infodefensa (in Spanish). 3 April 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  31. ^ John Pike. "9A52-2 BM-30 300-mm Multiple Rocket Launcher". Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  32. ^ Blasko, Dennis J. (17 June 2013). The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century. Routledge. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-136-51996-3.
  33. ^ "й³ڱָȱݣʵڣ-½-½". Archived from the original on 9 May 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  34. ^ "AR2型300毫米远程火箭炮系统 - 飞扬军事 - 信息资讯 - 军事主题 - 陆地狂飙" [AR2 300mm Long Range Rocket System - Flying Military - Information - Military Theme - Land Mania]. (in Chinese). 27 September 2013. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  35. ^ "AR2300Զ̻ϵͳ". Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  36. ^ Foss, Christopher F. (24 February 2015). "Long-range firepower [IDX15D2]". Archived from the original on 12 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  • Russia's Arms Catalog 2004


  • Jamie Prenatt and Adam Hook, Katyusha – Russian Multiple Rocket Launchers 1941–Present, New Vanguard 235, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 2016. ISBN 978 1 4728 1086 1

External links[edit]