In the face of significant Russian losses in Ukraine from the late spring of 2022, one of the most notable new classes of weapons system supplied to the Ukrainian Military by its NATO allies has been the M142 HIMARS rocket artillery system – an asset prized for its high mobility, precision and extended engagement range.
The system was first introduced into service in 2010, with Ukraine being only the sixth country worldwide to deploy it. American-made HIMARS successfully degraded the Russian military’s logistics and supply chain.
The HIMARS are reported by Western sources to have significantly complicated the Russian war effort at a time when artillery more generally has gained increasingly central importance in the campaign.
While Russia itself has somewhat neglected the field of rocket artillery since the end of the Cold War, which comes amid a broader trend towards industrial decline after the Soviet collapse, states aligned with Moscow may well be able to source artillery systems China, reported Russian Pravda news.
The BM-30 Smerch, 9K58 Smerch or 9A52-2 Smerch-M is a heavy self-propelled 300 mm multiple rocket launcher designed in the Soviet Union. But Smerch-M is a simple rocket without a modern guidance system and never proved accurate in any combat test. Smerch-M would not provide precision strike capability nor Russia can reproduce the rocket due to international sanctions.
America, North Korea and China have most notably led the field in rocket artillery development to produce systems without any near peer rivals elsewhere in the world.
The Korea KN-09 rocket artillery system was introduced around 2014 with an unmatched 200 kilometers range. A higher-end North Korean option, the KN-25 system first unveiled in 2019, boasts a longer engagement range exceeding 400km and could be provided to supplement or, instead, its older counterpart.
Both systems were designed to maximise mobility, much as the HIMARS was, and use mobile launch vehicles, allowing them to redeploy after firing in much the same way rapidly. Due to China’s restrictions on arms sales, acquiring the KN-09 or KN-25 from North Korea provides the Russian Army with KN-09 or KN-25 in exchange for technology transfers or surplus aircraft to North Korea – with aviation being a primary weakness of the Korean defense sector.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently conducted tests at a high altitude near the disputed border with India to evaluate the precision strike capability of its newly developed rocket launch system, which was capable of hitting strong Indian military bases. At the same time, both sides worked together on addressing border issues.
During the recent test, PLA used the PCL191 multiple launch rocket system, striking a target several kilometers away in a desert shooting range in western China. Analysts assume this was a show of power to deter potential border conflicts.
The new long-range rocket launch system can attack any Indian military post along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which serves as the “de facto” border.
Russia is considering Chinese PCL-191 MLRS to counter the HIMARS rocket artillery system, reported Pravda news.
The Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) made its public appearance at China’s National Day parade in October 2019. It has been dubbed as a cutting-edge piece of military equipment capable of shooting rockets and ballistic missiles. The modular rocket system can carry either eight 370mm (14 and a half inch) rockets, each with a range of 350 kilometers (220 miles), or two 750mm Fire Dragon 480 tactical ballistic missiles – each of which is capable of launching for up to 500 kilometers. An analyst for the state-run television network CCTV referred to the new Chinese weapon as a “self-propelled rocket launcher with precision strike capability.”
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