Skip to comments.Russia's Smerch MLRS :an heir to the Katyusha!!
Posted on 09/08/2006 5:48:14 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Smerch: an heir to Katyusha 22:38 | 06/ 09/ 2006
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Viktor Litovkin) - Multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRSs) stand out among the weapons and military equipment produced by the Russian defense industry.
The 300mm Smerch, which is sometimes called an heir to the Katyusha, is the most powerful of them all, and this is not some journalistic exaggeration.
Russia has pioneered these launchers. The first patent, numbered 3603 and dated April 9, 1939, for "The Mechanized Unit for Firing Rocket Projectiles of Different Calibers" was granted to Soviet inventors Andrei Kostikov, Ivan Gvai and Vasily Aborenkov. The developers of the launcher dubbed it the Katyusha (Little Katie), whose one salvo on July 14, 1941 destroyed several German trainloads of fuel, ammunition and armor at Orsha station. The barrage practically razed the station to the ground. Captain Ivan Flerov commanded the battery. The launchers had been made at a secret workshop of the Moscow Kompressor plant before the start of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
The Katyusha's heir, the Smerch (Whirlwind), saw the light of day in 1986 and entered service in 1989, replacing the halfway models BM-13, BM-14, Grad, Uragan and their derivatives. These systems, according to Hero of Labor Nikolai Makarovtsev, Ph.D. in Engineering and general director of the Tula Splav State Research and Production Association (GNPP), an inventor, prime developer and manufacturer of MLRSs, rank second in the weapon popularity among all weapons, yielding the first prize only to the Kalashnikov assault rifle. The latest events in the Middle East have confirmed their reputation.
But, strangely enough, no complaints were lodged with Russia for allegedly supplying these systems to Hizbollah. Why? The Grad system (a cluster of several or more steel launch tubes mounted on an auto chassis or some other bed - the so-called guerilla version which has firing at a range of 20 km) is produced and sold throughout the world, mostly without a Russian license, by more than fifteen or so countries. Even in Afghanistan, Soviet troops, who stayed there for nearly ten years, came under fire from Grads, which the U.S.S.R. had stopped making long before that. The Tula Shtamp factory, 5% of whose output is made up of samovars for export and home use, and the remaining 95% consisting of multiple launchers, stopped manufacturing and delivering Grad systems abroad in the 1980s.
The warring world has long been doing without our participation, although the guerilla version used against our troops in Afghanistan by local and infiltrated Mujahideen, and its prototype descendant now being extensively exploited by Arab militants, was also developed at Tula "by decision of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee to assist our brothers, the Vietnamese people, in fighting against the American aggressor." The systems were transported in back packs along the Ho Chi Minh trail to the South Vietnamese tropics by North Vietnamese guerillas to "shoot at the military bases of the United States and its puppets".
But our story does not concern those days.
So what makes the Smerch so different from its predecessors - the Grad and Uragan, as well as the famed American MLRS system? It is its range, fire effectiveness and the area of destruction inflicted on manpower and materiel. Actually, it is a weapon of a new level of quality, by far surpassing its forerunners and foreign makes. Here is one of its characteristics.
While the Grad has a range of 20 km and covers an area of 4 ha, the Uragan can fire 35 km over an area of 29 ha, respectively, and the U.S. MLRS, 30 km and 33 ha, the firing range of the Smerch's 12-rocket salvo is between 20 and 70 km, with some versions reaching as far as 100 km. Their area of destruction is gigantic: 67 ha, or 672,000 sq. m. You would not envy those finding themselves in the path of such a devastating typhoon.
In a Smerch rocket weighing 800 kg, the payload is 280 kg (the ratio between the sustainer engine and the destructive elements of the rocket is unique). One rocket cluster contains 72 submunitions, each weighing 2 kg. Its impact angle is not that of an ordinary rocket - between 30 and 60 degrees to the horizon - but, thanks to a special device, strictly vertical: 90 degrees. A cone of such "meteorites" easily pierces the turrets and top shielding of armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled gun mounts, and even tank transmission compartments where the armor is not thick.
Considering that the payload may be configured in other ways - as anti-personnel or anti-tank mines, or incendiary, fuel-air explosives or smart rockets capable of seeking out and finding their targets - no one is eager to experience this steel blizzard. The rockets have one more valuable feature. They are easily integrated with radars designed to detect hostile materiel equipment and to guide Zoopark-type multiple ammunitions to target; with A-50 early warning aircraft (the Russian equivalent of AWACS); and with the Kipchak unmanned aerial vehicle, which, incidentally, is launched from a Smerch tube. In the twenty minutes that the latter hovers above the battlefield, it sends back to the launcher's command computing center coordinates of new targets reconnoitered in a 10 by 10 km area. Fitted with these devices, the Smerch becomes a high-precision weapon and its fire effectiveness is better than that of tactical missiles, which in principle is unnecessary but does no harm.
What makes the Smerch so deadly accurate? It is an axiom in the shooting community, and the U.S. developers have found it to their cost, that the maximum range of firing is 35 to 40 km. Beyond that distance fire gets random, and aiming becomes erratic. But a group of Tula designers from Splav, led from the 1950s by an outstanding Russian engineer, Alexander Ganichev, and since his death in 1983, by Chief Designer Gennady Denezhkin (Hero of Labor and Lenin Prize winner for the Smerch system), have developed an unguided missile able to adjust its flight according to an assigned elevation and traverse.
As a result, the accuracy and grouping of shots improved by 100-200% even compared with the Grad and Uragan, which are close-range weapons. Curiously enough, a rocket sets its path automatically at the time the vehicle takes up its firing positions and is orientated on the terrain, and its tubes are set at the required angle of elevation. With target data fed in, the system takes three minutes to prepare for firing, while a full salvo requires 38 seconds. Uniquely, this is also a period of time when the crew feels safe against enemy fire. Before the enemy identifies the direction from which the fire came, and the source of the steel tornado, the rocket launchers are gone.
The Smerch is made not only in Tula, although the city and the Splav firm originally developed it. Its propulsion system, the 9A52-2, was manufactured by Perm's Motovilikhinsky Zavod design bureau (Chief Designer Yury Kalachnikov). Solid fuel for the sustainer engine and powders were produced at Perm's Kirov Association (Chief Designer Vitaly Kolesnikov). The computing system came from the Signal All-Russian Research Institute in Kovrov, where Yury Sazykin was director-general. All of them have been awarded Lenin prizes for developing the Smerch. All in all, 20 organizations contribute to the production of the most powerful 300mm MLRS in the world. Some of them are located in former Soviet republics, for example, Belarus.
When the defense industry was down and out and the plant had no orders, its workers did not lose heart and began making liquefied-gas cylinders on conveyor belts that used to turn out Smerch rockets. One 300mm rocket could make three cylinders. West Europeans grabbed them as they came, not suspecting what kind of equipment they were installing in their kitchens and bathrooms.
The Smerch MLRSs are supplied, as far as I know, only to India and, following Operation Desert Storm, to Kuwait. Russia has never passed or sold the manufacturing license to anyone. There are none on Israel's borders. And if someone happened to discover them there, Moscow would not be to blame. Like Middle Eastern Grad systems, they are counterfeit through and through.
Great. These are the weapons that the Ragheads will have in a couple years.
THOSE workers have the spirit required to make capitalism succeed in the new Russia! It's a shame that so many others don't "get it."
But unguided missile able to adjust its flight according to an assigned elevation and traverse. Doesn't make sense at first blush.
I speculate that it has an onboard 3 axis accelerometer that keeps it on a purely ballistic course regardless of cross winds.
This will replace oil when crude goes below $30.
No, most succesful at succeeding capitalism in the new Russia where Communist Party leaders. Some of them are billionaires and multimillionaires. Chodorkovsky, for example.
I don't contradict that at all.
"A cone of such "meteorites" easily pierces the turrets and top shielding of armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled gun mounts, and even tank transmission compartments where the armor is not thick."
Oh, I bet the Chinese love these, especially since the Abrams has a nicely broad turret roof and engine deck for the munitions to hit. Probably augmented even further by some nice free-trader obtained technology.
No, these systems have never been sold to the ragheads. Did you notice the 1980 date?
The Russians have modified some of those MLRS to work with Laser and GPS (GLONASS) guidance.
Same in China....
Wholesale theft is not capitalism. It's thuggery.
"The Russians have modified some of those MLRS to work with Laser and GPS (GLONASS) guidance."
I could see that on the 100km rockets especially, for single high-value targets.
The commies still control everything in Russia, even though they don't call themselves commies anymore.
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