CONTENT PREVIEW
Weapons

Splav details Tornado-G rockets

24 August 2018

Splav Spa JSC revealed details of three upgraded 122 mm Grad rocket variants for the Tornado-G multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) at the 21–26 August Army International Military-Technical Forum in Kubinka, Russia.

While already in service with the Russian Artillery Force, the new rockets are now being offered for export to existing BM-21 ‘Grad’ system users.The 9M538 HE Frag rocket for the Tornado-G MLRS (above) when compared to the 9M521 HE Frag ‘Grad’ rocket (below) shows the larger warhead and reduced rocket motor length of the new rocket. (Splav Spa JSC)The 9M538 HE Frag rocket for the Tornado-G MLRS (above) when compared to the 9M521 HE Frag ‘Grad’ rocket (below) shows the larger warhead and reduced rocket motor length of the new rocket. (Splav Spa JSC)

“Even though the Tornado-G rockets are a continuity of the 500-series Grad rockets, there are significant design changes - especially in terms of the rocket motor and warhead,” an official from the company told Jane’s . “These rockets now have a much longer warhead section, without increasing the overall length [of the missile]: this is possible due to a reduced propulsion section. Thus, this gives a significant increase in firepower, albeit at a lower range capability.”

The Tornado-G 9M538 HE Frag [high explosive, fragmentation] rocket is slightly shorter at 2.64 m when compared to the earlier 9M521 HE Frag (2.84 m in total length); although the warhead section is increased to 1 m in length. The total weight of both rockets is, at 70 kg, roughly similar, although the weight of the Tornado-G HE warhead is 34.5 kg in contrast to 21 kg of the former. The range of Tornado-G MLRS firing these rockets is up to 20 km, less than the 30–40 km range achieved by the ‘500-series’ Grad rockets, but is actually equal to the even earlier 9M22 series.

Similar design changes have been made to the 9M539 HE fragmentation rocket and the 9M541 submunitions rocket. The 9M539 has a larger warhead that separates from the motor section and descends on to the target under a small parachute. A proximity fuze enables the spread of preformed and naturally-formed fragments in a circular pattern around the burst point and greatly improves lethality. The 9M541 ‘cargo’ rocket now has 70 dual-purpose HE/high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) submunitions instead of the previous 45.

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