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The BM-21 Grad is a Soviet-made truck-mounted 122 mm multiple rocket launcher, and a M-21OF rocket were developed in the early 1960s.
BM stands for boyevaya mashina, ‘combat vehicle’, and the nickname grad means ‘hail’.
The complete system with the BM-21 launch vehicle and the M-21OF rocket has designation as M-21 Field Rocket System.
The complete system is more commonly known as a Grad multiple rocket launcher system.
It entered service in the Soviet Union back in 1963, to replace the aging 140 mm BM-14 system.
The launch vehicle consists of a Ural-375D six-by-six truck chassis fitted with a bank of 40 launch tubes arranged in a rectangular shape that can be turned away from the unprotected cab.
The vehicle is powered by a water-cooled V-8 180 hp gasoline engine, has a maximum road speed of 75 km/h, road range of up to 750 kilometres, and can cross fords up to 1.5 m deep.
In 1976, the BM-21 was mounted on the newer Ural-4320 six-by-six army truck.
The truck of the BM-21 has a collapsible canvas cab, removable doors and windscreen, telescopic steering wheel and tie-down points for aiding parachute dropping and landing. A PG-1M panoramic telescope with K-1 collimator can be used for sighting. A spare tire is fitted at the rear of the crew cab.
The crew of 3 men can emplace the system and have it ready to fire in three minutes. The crew can fire the rockets from the cab or from a trigger at the end of a 64-metre cable.
The BM-21 GRAD is equipped with a pod of 40 launch tubes of 122 mm caliber arranged in a rectangular shape that can be turned away from the unprotected cab.
The rocket tube arrangement is a single rectangular bank of four layers each with 10 tubes.
The rocket launcher pod is mounted on a mobile elevatable launcher platform which has elevation from 0 to +55º with traverse being 60º right and 120º left.
The rocket launcher weapon system is mounted at the rear of the truck chassis.
The rockets can be either fired singly or in a salvo lasting six seconds. Manual reloading by the two-man crew takes approximately five minutes.
The launcher can traverse a full 360º. The system is limited to firing HE fragmentation-type rockets only.
The BM-21 can launch rockets directly from the cab or remotely from outside of the truck cab with a 64-meter cable. Standard rockets has a maximum firing range of 20 km, but with the use of latest generation of rockets the range can be increased up to 35/40 km.
The number of rockets each vehicle is able to quickly bring to bear on an enemy target make it effective, especially at shorter ranges. One battalion of eighteen launchers is able to deliver 720 rockets in a single volley.
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