The 2S9 "Nona" ("Newest Ordnance Ground Artillery") was introduced with Soviet Army forces in 1981 as a self-propelled, tracked, light armored artillery mortar vehicle. Design work began in the mid-to-late 1970s and resulted in the requisite trials period and subsequent serial production spanning from 1979 to 1989. The vehicle maintains an active status in the modern Russian Army and has found homes in the inventories of several global armies worldwide. Production has reached at least 1,000 units.
At the heart of the 2S9 is its 120mm 2A60 heavy field mortar which is fitted to a powered, traversing turret set atop the hull of the BTR-D. The BTR-D was introduced in 1974 as a lightweight airborne multirole tracked platform. With its compact dimensions and light-class weight, the vehicle proved an air-transportable system and could serve typically lightly-armed units behind enemy lines. The 2S9 is a 9.6-ton vehicle powered y a 5D20 series, V8, water-cooled, diesel-fueled engine of 240 horsepower mounted in the rear. Road speeds reach 37 miles per hour with an operational range out to 310 miles. Cross-country travel is aided by the torsion bar suspension system. Armor protection for the crew of four is up to 15mm at its thickest. Some 40 to 60 120mm mortar rounds are carried for the primary weapon while local defense is through a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. Six smoke grenade dischargers allow for self-screening actions.
Like other Soviet-era vehicles of this class, the hull is fully amphibious and propelled through use of twin waterjets located at the lower rear of the hull. This continues the long-accepted Soviet doctrine of assault through all possible avenues in regards to armored warfare. Amphibious qualities are not always part of the makeup of Western armored vehicles.
As a mortar-carrying weapon, the 2S9 has the ability to engage target areas through indirect fire, lobbing its explosive shells over enemy defenses. The turret has its own elevation span which enables various angles of fire to be reached while the crew operates in a protected environment - albeit slightly cramped. Dimensions of the vehicle include a running length of 6 meters with a width of 2.6 meters and a height of 2.3 meters. It sports a low profile which, coupled to its inherently compact size, makes for a harder target to effectively engage at range along the horizon. Various mortar shell types also broaden the tactical reach of the vehicle in action beyond the standard HE (High-Explosive) types - smoke and illumination shells are noted.
Operators of the 2S9 went beyond the old Soviet guard. This has included Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela. Russia maintains a fleet of about 275 vehicles including those based on the BTR-80 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) as the "Nona-SVK".
A towed version of the 120mm gun system is recognized as the "Nona-K".