MANUFACTURER(S): State Factories - Czechoslovakia
OPERATORS: Angola; Croatia; Czechoslovakia; Czech Republic; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Ecuador; Finland; Georgia; East Germany; Greece; Ghana; Indonesia; Iran; Lebanon; Myanmar; North Korea; Poland; Rwanda; Slovakia; Sri Lanka; Uganda; Uruguay; Yemen; Zimbabwe
Detailing the development and operational history of the RM-70 (Raketomet vz. 70) Wheeled Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRL).
Entry last updated on 5/21/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Since the dark days of World War 2, the Soviet Army has held the rocket projector in high regard and has included thousands of examples in their inventory to fulfill their armor doctrine requirements. The rocket projector provided a relatively inexpensive and psychologically-effective non-line-of-sight battlefield weapon despite its general inaccuracies against specific targets - instead target "areas" were chosen over engagement of targets directly. When used effectively - that is in groups of multiple rocket launching vehicles - the salvos unleashed provided devastating results against the enemy and proved well worth the initiative.
It was only proper that, with the Soviet influence over Czechoslovakia, that the Czech Army followed suit in their armor doctrine as well. For decades following World War 2, the Czechs utilized the basic RM-51 multiple rocket launcher, a six-wheeled truck chassis mounting an elevating/traversing turret armed with 32 x 130mm rockets and based on the Soviet World War 2-era BM-13 series. The type saw use by the forces of Austria, Bulgaria, Cuba, Egypt, Libya and - one of the largest operators - Romania, the latter procuring nearly 600 units and these were known locally the "R-2".
In the 1960s, the Soviet Army graduated the BM-13 into the BM-21 series which utilized 40 x 122mm rocket tubes on a traversing/elevating turret mounted to a six-wheeled truck chassis. Within time, this designed passed on to Czech Army use as the localized "RM-70". The RM-70 was a modified form of the BM-21 developed to suit Czech Army requirements, being designed upon a heavy-duty, eight-wheeled armored vehicle chassis fitting a 40-tube 122mm launcher unit aft of the armored crew cab. The design sported sufficient protection for a unit expected to fight just behind friendly lines though within reach of designated enemy target areas. The truck chassis included a T-903-3 V12 multi-fueled engine outputting 250 horsepower with a 250 mile range and 53 mile per hour top road speed. The crew sat in relative comfort and safety within the steel-armored cab which was completed with armored visors for adequate driving vision under protection. The 8x8 wheeled nature of the machine ensured off road travel was wholly possible and its mechanized approach allowed the machine to keep pace with allied tracked tanks and infantry fighting vehicles as needed. The vehicle allowed for storage of 40 x rocket reloads to ensure that the weapon system could be fired twice before a proper full reload by carrier vehicle was required.
The RM-70's reach was such that all 40 rockets could be fired by the crew in less than 20 seconds out to a range of 20 kilometers. The turret was flexible enough for the system to engage target areas at any required angle without the entire vehicle having to be turned to face the fight. In this way, the vehicle could be used to lay down a "carpet" of rocket fire and displace to a safe position for reloading. Point protection against low-flying aircraft and infantry was by way of personal crew weapons or the included vz. 59 series general purpose machine gun.
The RM-70 was developed into a few notable variant which included the base RM-70 combat model. The RM-70/85 was a lightened, unarmored version fitted with a T3-930-51 series 265 horsepower engine. This was followed by the modernized RM-70/85M which included an all-new fire control system and land navigation suite to keep the system viable for the modern battlefield. The rocket was further evolved with this derivative to include a 36 kilometer range. The RM-70 "Modular" was introduced in 2000 to produce a Multiple Rocket Launch System (MLRS) to conform to NATO standards. The modular nature of the design was such that the armament turret could be replaced with another turret type (fitting different caliber rockets) as needed - broadening the tactical appeal of the RM-70 family considerably. Introduction of these systems was in 2005. The Vz,92 "Krizan VMZ" was an engineering vehicle variant and developed as another modular solution to undertake varying battlefield roles including ranged anti-infantry/anti-tank mine-laying.
The RM-70 has gone on to see widespread use by various forces outside of the Czech Republic (these now since retired) since its introduction in 1971/1972. Operators included Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Finland (as the 122 RakH 89), Georgia, East Germany (later sent to Greece after reunification), Greece, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Myanmar, Poland, Rwanda, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Uruguay, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
The formal designation of the RM-70 is "Raketomet vzor 1970". Despite its 1971 introduction into service, the RM-70 is known in NATO nomenclature as the "M1972".