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Both Armenia and Azerbaijan use quite a few Russian-made or Soviet-made weapons.
One of these is the BM-30 Smerch, a Soviet-made heavy multiple rocket launcher.
It is a system 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.
It is a late-era Soviet Union system, and it continued in use by Russia, with a program to replace it by the 9A52-4 Tornado being launched in 2018.
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 war, including in fighting in Jobar.
It was also used by the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics to deliver explosive and cluster munitions to Ukrainian military positions and by the Ukrainian Army at populated areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions during the initial phases of the hostilities in Eastern Ukraine.
Currently, both Armenia and Azerbaijan target each-others positions with the Smerch.
The main components of the BM-30 Smerch system are the following:
- Rockets 9M55 or 9M528 (in containers);
- BM 9A52-2 launch vehicle;
- TZM 9T234-2 transloader with an 850 kg crane and 12 spare rockets;
- Automated fire control equipment in the command post 1K123 “Vivary”;
- Maintenance vehicle PM-2-70 MTO-V;
- Set of arsenal equipment 9F819;
- Training facilities 9F827 and 9F840.
The 9K58 Smerch artillery system is able to fire a complete salvo of 12 rounds within 38 seconds engaging an area of 672,000 square meters. The rockets launch sequence can be controlled from inside the 9A52-2 vehicle and remotely.
The 9M55 rockets are employed on the Smerch providing a maximum range of 90 km and a minimum range of 20 km. In-flight rotation provides 9M55s increased accuracy and range over unguided rockets. Twelve tubes reloading operation takes about 36 minutes. The Smerch artillery system also comprises a re-supply/transloading vehicle based on the MAZ543A all-terrain vehicle and operated by a crew of 3-man.
The cabin truck of BM-30 is not protected. A launch cabin is mounted just behind the driver’s position. The launch vehicle’s cabin accommodates the launch preparation and firing equipment.
The BM-30 Smerch artillery system is available based on Russian MZKT MAZ-543 8×8 chassis or a Czech Republic Tatra chassis both wheeled. The MAZ-543 chassis is fitted with powered steering on the front two axles. BM-30 Smerch reaches a maximum road speed of 60 km/h. Vehicles manage 30° slopes and 1 m fords. Autonomy on roads is 850 km.
The truck of the BM-30 9K58 Smerch is equipped with two circular feet of stabilization, mounted to each side of the chassis. These are positioned on either side between the rear and front two roadwheels. The BM-30 9K58 Smerch is also equipped with a central tire-pressure regulation system that allows the driver to adjust the tire pressure to suit the terrain being crossed from within the cab.
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