BM-21 (Grad) Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)
The BM-21 Grad entered service in 1964 and has seen combat action as recently as the 2008 South Ossetian War.
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The BM-21 "Grad" is a specialty weapon utilized by over 65 countries in one form or another and, despite her Cold War origins, remains a viable and relatively inexpensive system even today. While the chassis and rocket technology have evolved over the years, the basic principle of delivering a large volley of directional explosives against a target area remains the heart and soul of the BM-21 system. The designation of "BM-21" comes about from "Boyevaya Mashina" (meaning "combat vehicle") while the rocket system ("M-21") provides the numeric designator. "Grad" is simply a nickname translating to "hail" as in "hail storm" which aptly describes the firepower of the BM-21.
The Soviets garnered much in the way of valuable experience during their use of mobile "Katyusha" rocket launching vehicles during World War 2, particularly after the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union through "Operation Barbarossa". These trucks could be built in large numbers in a short amount of time and just about any wheeled vehicle could be turned into a projector. When amassed, these rocket projecting systems could be used to target areas where enemy troops or soft-skinned vehicles were concentrated and deliver volleys of high-explosive lethality. While not wholly accurate, these weapon systems made up for their limitations through sheer firepower, a definite psychological weapon to say the least. As surely as World War 2 ended, the Soviet Army made it a point to continue development and production of similar rocket projecting platforms to fight within the scope of Soviet armor doctrine.
The original BM-21 was developed in the early 1960s and delivered into the army inventory by 1964. When formally identified by the West, the system was assigned the simple designation of "M1964". Collectively, the BM-21 consisted of the launch vehicle with the rocket projector system. The initial BM-21 Grad was based on the Ural-375D 6x6 truck chassis but has since been upgraded to the Ural-4320 6x6 truck chassis, this in 1976. In either form, the vehicle promotes high ground clearance and benefits from its all-wheel drive, 6-wheeled design with good cross-country ability.