At present, Ukraine mainly uses weapons that it inherited from the Soviet Union. Multiple launch rocket systems are no exception. The most common MLRS in the Ukrainian army is the Grad. Without modernization, such an MLRS no longer meets the requirements of the 21st century. It is for this reason that Ukrainian designers are working on the development of multiple launch rocket systems: both the creation of new and the modernization of existing samples.
Many experts, including Ukrainian ones, agree that in the field of rocket artillery Ukraine is at least 20 years behind modern Russian multiple launch rocket systems that are supplied to the Russian armed forces. First of all, this concerns the ammunition itself, in which, by changing the rocket fuel, it was possible to significantly increase the range of destruction of targets. For example, new ammunition MLRS “Tornado-G” is able to hit targets at a distance of up to 40 kilometers, which is 20 kilometers longer than the range of shells of the conventional complex “Grad”. Currently, Ukraine is moving along the same path. The new Ukrainian program to modernize multiple launch rocket systems is also named after the devastating atmospheric phenomenon and is known as Typhoon.
Typhoon-1 rockets tested at maximum range
On April 29, 2020, the roar of rockets at the Alibey training ground of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, located on the territory of the Odessa region, marked a new stage in testing promising Ukrainian missiles of 122 mm Typhoon-1, intended for use with the Grad MLRS, and also Ukrainian counterparts “Berest” and “Verba”. The design bureau Yuzhnoye named after MK Yangel (Dnepropetrovsk) is developing a new missile “Typhoon-1”.
Test launches of “Typhoon-1”
According to the official website of the enterprise, the launches of new rockets were carried out by the forces of the combat crew of the range using the standard BM-21 combat vehicle of the Grad complex. At the same time, the technical management of the launches of new shells was carried out by the specialists of the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau. It is reported that the test launches of the Typhoon-1 rockets were successful. It is noteworthy that earlier on the territory of Ukraine the production of rockets for the BM-21 “Grad” was absent.
According to the Yuzhnoye design bureau, for the first time a ground-based complex of its own production was used for such tests. The ground mobile measuring station was used to obtain all the necessary telemetry information from the missiles during the flight in real time. It is reported that the test stage held at the end of April 2020 at the Alibey test site is the second for Typhoon-1 rockets. The first stage of testing took place in November 2019 at a combined-arms training ground located in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Last year, the rockets were tested for the minimum flight range, in April 2020 – for the maximum.
It is known that the Typhoon-1 122-mm rockets represent an upgrade option for the classic BM-21 Grad ammunition. Similar work is being carried out in many countries that operate these multiple launch rocket systems. The new Ukrainian ammunition has a minimum range of 5 km and a maximum range of 40 km. The mass of the high-explosive fragmentation warhead is 18.4 kg. In addition to the Typhoon-1 uncorrectable missile, the designers from the Yuzhnoye design bureau are also working on the creation of a Typhoon-1M guided munition of the same caliber, which can significantly expand the capabilities of the Grad and its analogues.
Test launches of “Typhoon-1”
It is known that a whole pool of Ukrainian representatives of the defense industry worked on the creation of the new Typhoon-1 missile, in addition to specialists from the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau named after Yangel. In particular, the Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant, NPO Pavlograd Chemical Plant and Pavlograd Mechanical Plant, NPK Fotopribor, State Research Institute of Chemical Products and a number of other Ukrainian enterprises have already been involved in work on the new ammunition.
Typhoon MLRS family
The development of new Ukrainian rocket artillery ammunition has been known for several years. For the first time, Yuzhnoye Design Bureau presented its plans back in 2015 as part of the Arms and Security 2015 exhibition. Then the specialists of the company from Dnepropetrovsk presented a stand with options for modernizing the three main MLRS, which are in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine: “Grad”, “Uragan” and “Smerch”. Also, the company announced the start of work on the creation of new promising MLRS models.
It is currently known that the specialists of the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau are working on several basic versions of jet systems and ammunition for them:
Typhoon-1 is a modernization project for BM-21 Grad. The main difference will be an increase in the firing range of the complex to 40 kilometers instead of 20 kilometers for the Soviet RZSO.
Typhoon-2 is a modernization project for BM-27 Uragan. It is known that the firing range of 220-mm rockets will also be increased. The exact values are unknown, but judging by the presentations, it is planned to bring the firing range to 72 kilometers.
Typhoon-3 – modernization project 9A52 Smerch. So far, the least known about this project. Perhaps it was completely canceled due to the implementation of a similar project of the Ukrainian MLRS “Alder”, which is also being created on the basis of “Smerch” by the designers of the Luch Design Bureau.
Typhoon-4 is the most promising project at the moment. It is not a direct modernization of Soviet models, but a new development of engineers from the Yuzhnoye design bureau. The declared firing range is up to 280 km. In fact, this development is approaching operational-tactical missile systems.
Test launches “Typhoon-1”
The main difference between the Typhoon-4 MLRS is the launch of ammunition from transport and launch containers. Apparently, the caliber of the system will be increased to 400 mm. Indirectly, this can be judged by the renders and presentations already published on the Internet, as well as the work of Yuzhnoye KB specialists on solid-propellant rocket engines for projectiles in caliber up to 400 mm. Another confirmation of the theory of increasing the caliber of ammunition is the declared firing range – 280 km. The basis for the new complex should be a wheeled chassis developed by the KMDB, which the Ukrainians plan to use in the OTRK “Thunder-2”. Provision is made for the package placement of missiles in the TPK, similar to the modern Chinese MLRS or the Belarusian Polonez complex.
Perspective of Ukrainian MLRS
First of all, new Ukrainian MLRS of the Typhoon family are being developed for internal use, but can also be exported. On the world arms market, they will compete with Russian MLRS and even Soviet equipment, attracting primarily buyers from developing countries. There is no doubt that the project will eventually be implemented, it is only a matter of time. It is possible that it will not be possible to implement all of the plans, and the characteristics of missiles and complexes will be adjusted, but the path to reducing the lag behind Russia in the development of MLRS will be followed.
Ukraine inherited from the Soviet Union a developed defense industry and a good scientific and industrial base. At the same time, the developer of the Typhoon MLRS is the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau named after Yangel, a large enterprise specializing in the development of rocket and space technology. It is obvious that the company has personnel, and most importantly the necessary theoretical and practical experience in the field of creating individual elements of rockets. It is known that the company is currently working on the creation of new solid-propellant engines for rockets of caliber from 122 to 400 mm. Design Bureau Yuzhnoye possesses all the necessary technologies for this, as well as technologies for creating hulls for rockets and rockets using the rotary rolling method.
Variants of rockets from the Yuzhnoye design bureau, photo: zloy-odessit.livejournal.com
Taken together, all this creates the preconditions for real modernization and the creation of new models of already Ukrainian MLRS. At the same time, the main problem of Ukraine lies not in the lack of production sites and highly qualified specialists, but in chronic underfunding and low serial production of weapons and military equipment produced. In some cases, there is also a high dependence on foreign components, which increases the final cost of products. Another problem is that the Armed Forces of Ukraine, due to the existing financial constraints, are unable to purchase military products and modern ammunition in large quantities. It is unlikely that the coronavirus pandemic and the global economic crisis will improve the financial and economic situation of Ukraine and its armed forces. In these conditions, the new MLRS “Typhoon” may for some time remain single exhibition copies.