BM-21 Grad

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BM-21 "Grad"
Russian BM-21 Grad in Saint Petersburg.JPG
A Russian BM-21-1 on display in Saint Petersburg in May 2009
Type Multiple rocket launcher
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1963–present
Used bySee Operators
Wars Sino-Soviet border conflict [1]
Vietnam War [2]
Lebanese Civil War [3]
Western Sahara War
Angolan Civil War
Somali Civil War
Ogaden War
South African Border War
Uganda–Tanzania War [4]
Cambodian–Vietnamese War
Sino-Vietnamese War
Iran–Iraq War
Soviet–Afghan War [5]
Second Sudanese Civil War [6]
Gulf War
First Nagorno-Karabakh War
Yugoslav Wars
First Chechen War [1]
1995 Cenepa War
1999 Kargil War [7]
Second Chechen War [1]
Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel
Russo-Georgian War
Cambodian–Thai border dispute
Libyan Civil War (2011)
Syrian Civil War [1]
Northern Mali conflict
War in Donbas [8]
Yemeni Civil War (2015–present) [9]
Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war
Tigray War
Production history
Designer Splav State Research and Production Enterprise
Manufacturer Splav State Research and Production Enterprise
No. built986700+
VariantsSee Variants
Specifications (9K51)
Mass13.71 tonnes (30,225 lb)
Length7.35 m (24 ft 1 in)
Barrel  length3.0 m (9 ft 10 in)
Width2.40 m (7 ft 10 in)
Height3.09 m (10 ft 2 in)

Rate of fire 2 rounds/s
Muzzle velocity 690 m/s (2,264 ft/s)
Maximum firing range20 km (12 mi) (new rockets 30–45 km)
SightsPG-1M panoramic telescope

EngineV-8 gasoline ZiL-375
180 hp (130 kW)
Suspension6×6 wheeled
405 km (251 mi)
Maximum speed 75 km/h (47 mph)

The BM-21 "Grad" (Russian : БМ-21 "Град", lit. ' hail ') is a Soviet truck-mounted 122 mm multiple rocket launcher. [10] The weapons system and the M-21OF rocket [11] were first developed in the early 1960s, and saw their first combat use in March 1969 during the Sino-Soviet border conflict. [12] BM stands for boyevaya mashina (Russian : боевая машинаcombat vehicle), and the nickname grad means "hail". The complete system with the BM-21 launch vehicle and the M-21OF rocket is designated[ by whom? ] as the M-21 field-rocket system. The complete system is more commonly known as a Grad multiple rocket launcher system. In NATO countries the system (either the complete system or the launch vehicle only) was initially known as M1964. Several other countries have copied the Grad or have developed similar systems.



BM-21-1 launch vehicle during a military parade in Yekaterinburg, 9 May 2009. ZRK Grad parad.jpg
BM-21-1 launch vehicle during a military parade in Yekaterinburg, 9 May 2009.

The M-21 field rocket system with a BM-21 launch vehicle (122 mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL) system) entered service with the Soviet Army in 1963 to replace the aging 140 mm BM-14 system. The launch vehicle consists of a Ural-375D six-by-six truck chassis fitted with a bank of 40 launch tubes arranged in a rectangular shape that can be turned away from the unprotected cab. The vehicle is powered by a water-cooled V-8 180 hp gasoline engine, has a maximum road speed of 75 km/h (47 mph), road range of up to 750 kilometers (470 mi), and can cross fords up to 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) deep. The original vehicle together with supporting equipment (including the re-supply truck 9T254 with 60 rockets) is referred to by the GRAU index "9K51"; the launcher itself has the industrial index of "2B5". In 1976, the BM-21 was mounted on the newer Ural-4320 six-by-six army truck.

The three-member crew can emplace the system and have it ready to fire in three minutes. The crew can fire the rockets from the cab or from a trigger at the end of a 64-meter (210 ft) cable. All 40 rockets can be away in as little as 20 seconds, but can also be fired individually or in small groups in several-second intervals. A PG-1M panoramic telescope with K-1 collimator can be used for sighting. The BM-21 can be packed up and ready to move in two minutes, which can be necessary when engaged by counter-battery fire. Reloading is done manually and takes about 10 minutes.

Each 2.87-meter (9 ft 5 in) rocket is slowly spun by rifling in its tube as it exits, which along with its primary fin stabilization keeps it on course. Rockets armed with high explosive-fragmentation, incendiary, or chemical warheads can be fired 20 kilometers (12 mi). Newer high explosive and cargo (used to deliver anti-personnel or antitank mines) rockets have a range of 30 kilometers (19 mi) and more. Warheads weigh around 20 kilograms (44 lb), depending on the type.

The number of rockets that each vehicle is able to quickly bring to bear on an enemy target makes it effective, especially at shorter ranges. One battalion of eighteen launchers is able to deliver 720 rockets in a single volley. The system has lower precision than gun artillery and cannot be used in situations that call for pinpoint accuracy. It relies on a large number of shells dissipating over an area for a certain hit rate on specific targets. Nonetheless, because of the short warning time for the impact of the whole volley, the BM-21 is still considered an effective weapon.


BM-21 launch vehicle. BM-21.JPG
BM-21 launch vehicle.
9P138 launch vehicle of the Grad-1 multiple rocket launcher system. 9P138.jpg
9P138 launch vehicle of the Grad-1 multiple rocket launcher system.
BM-21V VDV variant. Verkhnyaya Pyshma Tank Museum 2012 0153.jpg
BM-21V VDV variant.

Soviet Union and Russia

Grad-P single tube launcher system Grad-P-batey-haosef-2.jpg
Grad-P single tube launcher system

Adaptations of the launcher were/are produced by several countries including China, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Poland and Romania.


Belarusian BM-21A "BelGrad" BelGrad BM-21A.JPG
Belarusian BM-21A "BelGrad"


Ukrainian BM-21 Bastion-1 based on KrAZ-260 chassis Ukrainian BM-21 Grad Bastion-01 in Kyiv, Ukraine on 22 of August, 2014 IMG 7655 01.JPG
Ukrainian BM-21 Bastion-1 based on KrAZ-260 chassis


Georgian RS-122, a heavily upgraded and automated version of the Soviet BM-21 based on the Ukrainian chassis KrAZ-63221 DRS-122 georgian MLRS (3).jpg
Georgian RS-122, a heavily upgraded and automated version of the Soviet BM-21 based on the Ukrainian chassis KrAZ-63221

People's Republic of China

WS-22 SPMRL of Bangladesh Army. Bangladesh Army WS-22 MLRS. (33659597465).jpg
WS-22 SPMRL of Bangladesh Army.

Former Czechoslovakia

RM-70 launch vehicle, a Czechoslovak variant with the BM-21 launch vehicle launcher unit. T813 army2.JPG
RM-70 launch vehicle, a Czechoslovak variant with the BM-21 launch vehicle launcher unit.


WR-40 Langusta, a deeply modernized and automated version, of the Soviet BM-21 based on the Jelcz P662D.35 6x6 truck; displayed at the MSPO 2007. WR-40 Langusta, MSPO 2007.JPG
WR-40 Langusta, a deeply modernized and automated version, of the Soviet BM-21 based on the Jelcz P662D.35 6x6 truck; displayed at the MSPO 2007.


The Egyptians domestically manufacture the rockets Sakr-18 and Sakr-36, with a respective range of 18 km (11 mi) and 36 km (22 mi), and the latest Sakr-45 with a superior range of 45 km (28 mi). Rather than a standard HE-Frag round, the Egyptian military prefers a 23-kilogram (51 lb) cluster munition, which can be extremely effective against lightly armored equipment and troop concentrations. Both rockets, as well as the original Soviet models of course, are fired by locally manufactured rocket launchers like the RL-21 (copy of BM-11) and RC-21 (copy of BM-21, similar to the Hadid HM20). The Helwan Machine Tools Company also produces portable systems with one, three, four and eight launch tubes.

Gaza Strip

Since 2006 Hamas has fired 122 mm Grad rockets, copies made in Iran, and Eastern-bloc versions modified to expand their range into Israel. [19] The rockets were believed to be brought into the Gaza Strip via tunnels from Egypt. [19] Some of the rockets were of a Chinese Grad variant. [20] Hamas sources said they were pleased by the performance of the Chinese variants of the BM-21 Grad rocket, which demonstrated a far greater range and blast impact than Palestinian-made rockets, as well as Russian-origin Grads or Katyushas. [20] [21]

Hamas have used small man-portable single-tube launchers for rockets in attacks against Israel, designated 122 mm 9P132/BM-21-P. [22] The 122 mm Grad rockets used in Gaza have a range of about 40 km (25 mi), and can reach the Israeli towns of Ashdod, Beer-Sheva, Ofakim, Gedera, Kiryat Gat, Ashqelon, Sderot, Rehovot, Kiryat Malachi and Gan Yavne. They also published a clip claiming device mounted used as a multi-barrel rocket launcher on vehicle used for first time in Gaza. [23] On 7 April 2011, the Iron Dome system successfully intercepted a Grad rocket launched from Gaza for the first time. The rockets were launched without their dedicated platforms and by untrained operators which causes very low accuracy. Over 50% of the rockets miss entire cities and over 10% end up hitting the sea. [24]


The Homicho Ammunition Engineering Complex produces the rockets while the Bishoftu Motorization Engineering Complex produces the launching tubes and has converted existing trucks to diesel engine. Bishoftu motorization has also produced a six tube launcher to be mounted on light trucks.

North Korea


D.I.O. from Iran produces copies of the BM-11 and BM-21 systems that can fire the original Soviet rockets as well as the locally developed "Arash" with a range of 20.5 km (12.7 mi). There is also a rocket with a range of 75 km (47 mi).


Various 122mm-type rockets were deployed by Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, modified to deliver nerve agents to targets. This included the 40-inch long, domestically produced Grad MLRS-compatible "Borak" warhead designed to disperse sarin gas. [26]


APRA-40, a Romanian variant of the Grad, and a 6-rocket launcher. SVLR 122mm BM-21.jpg
APRA-40, a Romanian variant of the Grad, and a 6-rocket launcher.



Serbian LRSVM Morava LRSVM Oganj 4.jpg
Serbian LRSVM Morava

South Africa



LRSV-122 M-96 "Tajfun SVLR 122mm M96 Tajfun.jpg
LRSV-122 M-96 "Tajfun


The original "GRAD" rocket has a range of about 20 kilometers (12 mi). The first modification called "G-M" increased the range to about 27.5 kilometers (17.1 mi), while the second modification "G-2000" further increased the range to about 40 kilometers (25 mi). [34] The latest technology development has allowed new Grad rockets to have 52 km range. [35] The range may also vary due to the type of warhead.

OriginAmmunition typeMinimum rangeMaximum rangeLengthWeightWarhead weight
metresmilesmetresmilesmetresft inkg lb kglb
9M22U (M-21OF)USSR/Russia Fragmentation-HE 5,0003.120,38012.662.879 ft 5 in66.614718.441
9M28FUSSR/RussiaFragmentation-HE1,5000.9315,0009.32.277 ft 5 in56.512521.046.3
9M28KUSSR/RussiaAnti-tank mines 13,4008.33.0410 ft 0 in57.712722.850
9M43USSR/RussiaSmoke20,000122.959 ft 8 in6614620.245
9M217USSR/RussiaAnti-tank submunitions30,000193.0410 ft 0 in701502555
9M218USSR/Russia HEAT submunitions30,000193.0410 ft 0 in701502555
9M519USSR/Russia RF jammer 18,50011.53.0410 ft 0 in6614618.441
9M521USSR/RussiaFragmentation-HE40,000252.879 ft 5 in661462146
9M522USSR/RussiaFragmentation-HE37,50023.33.0410 ft 0 in701502555
PRC-60USSR/RussiaUnderwater charge (for BM-21PD)3000.195,0003.12.759 ft 0 in75.31662044
Type 90AChinaFragmentation-HE12,7007.932,70020.32.759 ft 0 in18.340
M21-OF-FPRomaniaFragmentation-HE5,000–6,0003.1–3.720,40012.72.879 ft 5 in65.41446.3514.0
M21-OF-SRomaniaFragmentation-HE1,0000.6212,7007.91.9276 ft 3.9 in46.61036.3514.0
Edepro G2000/52SerbiaFragmentation-HE52,000322.8629 ft 4.7 in64.414219.041.9
Sakr-45AEgyptAT / AP submunitions42,000263.31010 ft 10.3 in67.514924.554
Sakr-45BEgyptFragmentation-HE45,000282.9009 ft 6.2 in63.514020.545

Also Incendiary, Chemical, Illumination, Antipersonnel mines.


Map of BM-21 operators in blue with former operators in red Map of BM-21 operators.svg
Map of BM-21 operators in blue with former operators in red
A fired 122mm projectile of a RM-70 multiple rocket launcher stuck in muddy land in Vaharai, Batticaloa during the Sri Lankan Civil War (2007). 122 mm Projectile of MRL.JPG
A fired 122mm projectile of a RM-70 multiple rocket launcher stuck in muddy land in Vaharai, Batticaloa during the Sri Lankan Civil War (2007).
Djiboutian Army Rocket Launcher. Djiboutian rocket launcher.jpg
Djiboutian Army Rocket Launcher.
BM-21 on display near the Karen Demirchyan Complex, Yerevan, Armenia Grad Armenian Army.jpg
BM-21 on display near the Karen Demirchyan Complex, Yerevan, Armenia
Upgraded 9P138 "Grad-1" rocket artillery system of Myanmar Army. MA-9P138.jpg
Upgraded 9P138 "Grad-1" rocket artillery system of Myanmar Army.

Current operators


Former operators

Evaluation only

See also

Related Research Articles

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