BM-30 Smerch
9A52-2 "Smerch" launch vehicle
TypeMultiple rocket launcher
Place of originSoviet Union, Russia
Service history
In service1989–present
Used bySee Operators
WarsSecond Chechen War
War in Donbas
Syrian civil war[1]
2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war[2]
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine[3]
Production history
DesignerSplav State Research and Production Enterprise
Designed1980s
ManufacturerSplav State Research and Production Enterprise
Produced1989–present
VariantsSee Variants
Specifications
Mass43.7 t
Length12 m (39 ft 4 in)
Width3.05 m (10 ft)
Height3.05 m (10 ft)
Crew3

Caliber300 mm
Barrels12
Maximum firing range120 km (75 mi) (9M542 rocket)
200 km (120 mi) (9M544 rocket)

Main
armament
9M55 or 9M528 rockets
EngineD12A-525A V12 diesel engine
525 hp (391 kW)
Suspension8×8 wheeled
Operational
range
850 km (530 mi)
Maximum speed 60 km/h (37 mph)

The BM-30 Smerch (Russian: Смерч, "tornado", "whirlwind"), 9K58 Smerch or 9A52-2 Smerch-M is a heavy self-propelled 300 mm multiple rocket launcher designed in the Soviet Union to fire a full load of 12 solid-fuelled projectiles. The system is intended to defeat personnel, armored, and soft targets in concentration areas, artillery batteries, command posts and ammunition depots. It was designed in the early 1980s and entered service in the Soviet Army in 1989.[4] When first observed by the West in 1983, it received the code MRL 280mm M1983. It continues in use by Russia; a program to replace it with the 9A52-4 Tornado began in 2018.[5]

9K58 «Smerch» in Saint-Petersburg Artillery museum
9T234-2 transporter-loader of 9K58
9A52-2 launch vehicle of 9K58 / BM-30 Smerch MLRS
9K58 Smerch (IDELF-2008 – Ministry of Defence of Russia exposition)

Operational history

The first confirmed combat uses of the Smerch were in two war zones in 2014. Syrian military forces used the system against rebel forces during the Syrian civil war, including in fighting in Jobar.[6] It was also used by Russia-backed militants to deliver explosive and cluster munitions to Ukrainian military positions and likewise by the Ukrainian Army.[7][8] Several have been seen in use by pro-Russian rebels.[9][10] The Russian Ground Forces used the BM-30 in Syria in October 2015 during the Russian intervention in Syria.[11]

During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia and Azerbaijan both targeted each other's territory with Smerch rockets.[12]

As of March 2024, there is visual evidence of two Russian Military BM-30s being destroyed in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[13] Smerch rockets were fired from Belgorod in the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine. As Smerch rockets are a Multiple Launch Rocket System, using these to attack a densely populated area of civilians caused some to call the action a war crime.[14] The Human Rights Watch also claims that Smerch cluster munitions 9M55K (containing 72 9N235 submunitions) were fired into densely populated neighborhoods in Kharkiv, resulting in the deaths of at least 11 civilians.[15][16] During the Battle of Kharkiv it is alleged that 11 Smerch rockets were fired on 27–28 February alone.[17]

Components

The main components of the RSZO 9K58 "Smerch" system are the following:

300mm rockets with a firing range of 70 and 90 km and various warheads have been developed for the Smerch MLRS.

The 9A52-2 vehicle with the automated system ensures:

General characteristics

Variants

Indian BM-30 Smerch launchers on Indian built Tatra 816 trucks during a military parade

Rocket projectiles

Variant Rocket Warhead Guidance system Range
Name Type Weight Length Weight Submunition Self-destruct time Min. Max.
9M55K Cluster munition, anti-personnel 800 kg 7.6 m 243 kg 72 × 1.75 kg, each with 96 fragments (4.5 g each) 110 sec 20 km 70 km
9M55K1 Cluster munition, self-guided anti-tank 243 kg 5 × 15 kg
9M55K4 Cluster munition, AT minelets. 243 kg 25 × 5 kg mines 24 hour
9M55K5 HEAT/HE-Fragmentation. 243 kg 646 × 0.25 kg (up to 120 mm RHA armor-piercing) 260 sec
9M55F Separable HE-Fragmentation 258 kg
9M55C Thermobaric 243 kg
9M528 HE-Fragmentation 815 kg 243 kg 25 km 90 km
9M534 UAV delivery system Drone 20 km 90 km
9М542 HE-Fragmentation, PGM 150 kg Inertial, GLONASS, 4 canards 40 km 120 km
R624 250 kg Inertial, GPS, 90 pulse engines 70 km
R624M 170 kg 130 km

Operators

Map of BM-30 operators in blue with former operators in red
Ukrainian BM-30 Smerch launchers during a military parade
Kuwaiti BM-30 Smerch launchers during a military parade in Kuwait
Armenian BM-30 Smerch launchers during a military parade in Yerevan, 2016

Current operators

Former operators

Similar systems

PHL-03 heavy multiple rocket launcher.

See also

BM-30 Smerch with projectile as a monument to A.N. Ganichev in Tula city

References

External videos
video icon 300mm Smerch Multiple Rocket Launcher:
0:48 – Cluster – fragmentation
1:30 – Separable HE-Frag warhead
2:00 – Cluster – self-guided EFP (AT) elements
3:00 – Cluster – anti-tank mines
3:30 – Cluster – shaped charge/frag elements
3:50 – Unmanned aerial vehicle
5:20 – Thermobaric warhead
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Bibliography