Amid significant losses of its BM-21 Grad 122mm multiple rocket launcher systems (MRLS) in the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s defense industry has embarked on the development of an advanced rocket launcher to replenish its numbers on the battlefield. Since the commencement of the conflict in 2022, Russian forces have reportedly lost more than 300 Grad multiple rocket launcher systems. In response to these losses, the Russian Army is undertaking the creation of the Spartak modular armored platform to house the Tornado-G multiple rocket launcher system (MRLS), intended to succeed the renowned Grad rocket system. The Tornado-G, a member of the Tornado family of multiple rocket launchers designed by NPO Splav for the Russian Ground Forces, presents a variety of capabilities and battlefield roles. This system is primarily designed to launch cluster munitions and thermobaric warheads, enhancing its flexibility on the battlefield. The system’s enhanced range, automated features, and multi-target engagement capabilities demonstrate its potential to play a pivotal role in the evolving dynamics of modern warfare.
Distinguishing itself with four rows of 10 launch tubes, each equipped to fire 122mm projectiles, the Tornado-G model is positioned to supplant the BM-21 Grad systems. With around 30 9A53-G Tornado-G systems delivered to the Russian ground forces in 2011, subsequently replacing the BM-21 Grad, the Tornado-G achieved series production in 2013 and entered active service in 2014. Moreover, export permissions for the Tornado-G with extended range satellite-guided shells were granted in June 2018 and August 2019, respectively. One notable upgrade to the Tornado-G system is the incorporation of three improved 122mm Grad systems– codenamed 9M538, 9M539, and 9M541 – featuring enhanced firepower, albeit with a reduced operational range compared to their predecessors. This modernization effort, which aims to bring the capabilities of the BM-21 Grad systems to par with the new-generation Tornado-G, results in an increased striking range of up to 40 kilometers.
Mounted on the Spartak platform, the 9A53-G Tornado-G MRLS boasts advanced ammunition and targeting systems that enable it to engage multiple targets simultaneously, making it a formidable asset against enemy concentrations, columns, and deployment areas. The combat vehicle features an automated fire control system, permitting the crew to remain within the protected cabin while conducting operations. The Spartak platform offers substantial protection, with armor shielding against bullets and shrapnel, and the vehicle’s bottom and wheels engineered to withstand explosions of up to six kilograms of explosives. The engine provides 312 horsepower, propelling the Tornado-G to a maximum speed of 100 kilometers per hour and granting it a range of up to one thousand kilometers. The reloading process, executed manually by the crew within seven minutes, is often conducted remotely from the firing position to minimize vulnerability to counter-battery fire. Accommodating a total of five personnel, including the driver, the vehicle also boasts auxiliary 7.62-mm PKM armament.