The Russian military is reportedly hunting the remaining nationalists of the Azov Battalion in the Azovstal steel plant near the city of Mariupol with guided heavy mortar rounds.
On May 13, a photo showing a Russian 2S4 Tyulpan 240 mm self-propelled heavy mortar firing a 1K113 Smelchak laser-guided round at the Azovstal plant surfaced online. Hundreds of Azov nationalists, many of whom are wounded, are still holding up inside the plant despite running low on food, water and ammunition.
The Smelchak 240 mm mortar round, which is guided by a semi-active laser, can be fired by the 2S4 Tyulpan or the towed M240 mortar. The round has a range of 9.2 kilometers and a warhead of 21 kg of high explosive.
A land-based laser designator is usually used to illuminate targets for the Smelchak. However, drones equipped with designators can be also used for that task.
Smelchak rounds are likely being used to target fortified positions and reinforced buildings in the Azovstal plant where Azov nationalists are talking shelter.
The Russian military operates other types of guided mortar and artillery rounds, like the 152 mm Krasnopol round or the Kitolov-2 and 2M mortar and artillery shells that can be fired from 120 and 122 guns, respectively. All of these rounds are guided by semi-active laser, just like the Smelchak.
The use of precision-guided mortar and artillery rounds allows the Russian military to hit military targets in urban areas with high precisions from a safe-distance and without causing any real collateral damage.