Since the dark days of World War 2, the Russian (then Soviet) Army has placed a premium on wheeled Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRSs). The trend continues today with the 9A52-4 "Tornado" 8x8 wheeled rocket projector which was adopted in 2011 as an upgrade replacement for the aged BM-21, BM-27 and BM-30 MLRS lines. The vehicle is manufactured by the Motovilikha Plant of Perm, Russia and some 36 have been procured heading into 2014. It is expected that the new design will outright replace all comparable models within the next decade.
The Tornado is a complete mobile weapons platform consisting of a fully-suspended, heavy-duty mover vehicle (with integrated crew cabin) and a rear-mounted rocket launcher system. The vehicle portion itself is the KamAZ-63501 truck designed specifically for heavy-duty military service while being powered by a single JamAZ-740.50.360 diesel-fueled engine of 360 horsepower output. The 8x8 wheeled nature of the chassis allows the vehicle to traverse cross country when necessary as well as reach its maximum speed of 90 kilometers per hour on paved roads. Operational range of the vehicle is 1,000 kilometers. A typical operating crew is just two personnel (including a driver) thanks to heavy use of automation in the firing sequence. The overall vehicle weight is in the range of 24.5 tons and, dimensionally, features a length of 11.2 meters with a width of 2.5 meters and a height of 3.15 meters.
The armament portion of the 9A52-4 vehicle is adaptable to the battlefield need. The launcher is capable of supporting launch tubes of 122mm, 220mm or 300mm in caliber though the larger the rocket used, the lower the total number of rockets launched. 15 x 122mm rockets can be carried compared to 8 x 220mm types or 6 x 300mm types. The maximum engagement range of the launcher unit is approximately 90 kilometers when using the base rocket. A complete salvo can be cleared in under 10 seconds, allowing the vehicle to retreat, reload and reposition for a second assault. A full line of such vehicles can have a devastating physical and psychological effect on the enemy. The Tornado system allows for complete Non-Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) engagement and rockets can carry a variety of in-circulation warhead types including High-Explosive, FRAGmentation (HE-FRAG), anti-personnel, anti-armor "minelets", cluster munitions, thermobaric and incendiary. The crew is aided by several onboard systems which provide the necessary accuracy/precision at range including an all-digital Fire Control System (FCS).
To date, the Tornado series - having originated with the Tornado-G (upgrading the BM-21 "Grad" line), has seen an additional variant form emerge as the "Tornado-S", this version promising improved engagement ranges and precision thanks to use of a GLONASS (GLObal NAvigation Satellite System). The Tornado-S is a BM-30 "Smerch" upgrade and already in use with the Indian Army. The Tornado-U is an upgrade to the BM-27 "Uragan" line of MLRSs.
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