The BM-27 / 9P140 "Uragan" ("Hurricane") is a large, multi-wheeled self-propelled rocket launcher design consisting of an enclosed crew cab, launcher installation and eight-wheeled heavy duty chassis. The Soviet Union relied heavily on the inherent firepower of "rocket projectors" throughout World War 2 (through their heavy use of "Katyusha" systems) in staving off defeat at the hands of Hitler's Germany and inevitably carried this tactical doctrine into the Cold War years against the West. Rocket projectors held the uncanny ability to provide area suppression while delivering powerful psychological effects on enemy troops unlucky enough to be found within its "reach". Such rocket systems could saturate a target area ahead of the main advancing force made up of combat tanks, armored vehicles and infantry elements.
The BM-27 is typically crewed by six personnel including the vehicle commander and dedicated driver. The crew cab is fully enclosed and provides standard Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) protection for its occupants. This allows the crew to be relatively protected from its own rockets during launch and affords protection from enemy fire or applicable incoming NBC threats. While the vehicle is large and weighs in excess of 44,000 lb, it is designed for quick set-up-and-take-down when it comes to firing. Recoil struts are lowered in preparation of firing and help to absorb the violent blowback inherent in the large rockets exiting their launch tubes at speed. A 16-shot payload can be emptied from the launch tubes within 20 seconds after launch while a specialized version of the ZiL-135 8-wheeled vehicle designated as the 9T452 - appearing very similar to the BM-27 without its rocket launching mount - is then used to reload fresh rockets into the reusable launch tubes. Targeting is accomplished through a basic sighting device that allows only for indirect fire. BM-27s are typically painted over in the standard Soviet/Russian Army dark green scheme while those on parade may be seen with more added detail.
The BM-27's payload of 16 x 220mm rockets allow for various warheads to be utilized to suit mission needs. This includes the High-Explosive-Fragmentation (HE-FRAG) tipped version which is the standard rocket available. A chemical weapons version has also been developed to deliver lethal doses consistent with NBC payloads. One of the more unique forms of 220mm rocket is the mine-scattering submunition version which sprays a target area with electrically-timed detonating mines for truly disastrous results. Each of the massive 220mm rockets measure in at 15.8 feet in length and weigh nearly 800lbs.
BM-27s have seen combat actions since their inception, beginning with the bloody Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. Perhaps as many as eighteen BM-27s were captured and eventually reused by Afghan forces though their current state is thought to be mostly of disrepair. This was then followed by engagements during the 1st and 2nd Chechen Wars of 1994-1996 and 1999-2000 respectively. Most recently, the BM-27 was seen in action against Georgian forces in the 2008 South Ossetia War where her long-range prowess was put to good use.
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