The BM-21 Grad is a 122-mm truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher, which was designed in Soviet Union in the 1960s. Creation and development of this weapon was conducted in the 1950s in Tula by Splav State Research and Production Association. In 1963, the BM-21 was introduced in the Soviet Army in order to replace the outdated 140-mm (16- and 17-round) BM-14 launcher. Later in 1964 it was designated in the West as the M1964. The BM-21 is the most widely used MRLS across the world, especially throughout Warsaw Pact military forces. Numerous countries introduced the rocket launcher systems, that resemble the original one, because of its success in regulating different types of armed conflicts. The BM-21 Grad system is supposed to support the division with salvo fire in order to destroy enemy fortification, mortar and artillery positions, and destroy nodes of enemies’ resistance on the battlefield. Its rockets can deliver chemical, Frag-HE, incendiary warheads, or the newer cargo rockets and HE. When the rocket explodes, it produces a significant shock wave and fragmentation effect.
The BM-21 rocket launcher has a firing range up to 20000 meters. The artillery module consists of 40 launch tubes of 122 mm each, arranged in a rectangular shape (four layers of single rectangular banks with 10 tubes each), which can be turned away from the driver’s unprotected cab (in order not to damage driver’s cab, the rockets must be fired with the truck parked obliquely). Even though the rocket is primarily fin-stabilized, each launch tube is grooved in order to impart a rotary motion to the rocket. The combination of fin- and spin-stabilization makes grouped fire possible at ranges of up to 16 000 meters. The BM-21 is the only USSR launcher that does not have blast shields on the cab, but the widescreen and cab windows are usually strong enough to resist the overpressure caused by firing.
The BM-21, being mounted on the truck together with supporting equipment, is known as the 9K51 complex. The weapon is usually mounted on the Ural-375D truck chassis. The weapon, which is powered by a special electric generator,can be fired from the driver’s cab directly, or operated remotely at a 60 meters distance by a cable set. The Ural-375D truck can develop a speed up to 75 km. per hour, has a 750 km cruising range and an exceptional cross-country capability.
There is another firing complex, which is called the 9V170. It is also cab mounted, but has a 64-meter-long cable for firing the rockets. This weapon can fire each rocket in a single mode at any desirable interval, starting with 0.5 seconds, or fire all 40 rockets in 6 seconds time, and reloads in 8 minutes by a five-man crew.
The BM-21 seems to be the most famous and most popular multiple rocket-launcher in the world. It is currently in service in more than 70 countries. Russia is the largest operator of BM-21 in the world with 2500 units, Ukraine is a second largest with more than 300 units. MRLS Grad was trialed by fire in Sino-Soviet border conflict on the Damanskiy (Zhenbao) Island. Further it was used in the soviet war in Afghanistan, in 1st and second Chechen War, civil wars in Libya and Sirya. It is also widely used by the pro-Russian separatists the conflict in the war in eastern Ukraine as well as by Ukrainian armed forces.