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Updated: Jan 19

Russian Tornado-S MLRS vs United States Army HIMARS

As reported in National Defense, the National Defense Industry Association's magazine, state-owned Russian defense conglomerate Rostec is showing off its Tornado-S multiple launch rocket system and its complement of rockets at the Abu Dhabi defense trade show.

The Tornado-S 9K515 is part of a family of systems developed by NPO Splav for the Russian Army as part of the Rostec conglomerate. Npo Splav is touting the control unit of the Tornado-S that allows weapon system operators to program multiple guided rockets from a single salvo to strike multiple targets. According to Rostec, the Tornado-S provides better accuracy, more range and greater lethality than the Soviet made BM-30 Smerch MLRS it is replacing.

“The precision-strike rockets have an effective range of over 100 km and the fire accuracy of Tornado-S projectiles is 15-20 times higher than that of the munitions used by the Smerch predecessor,” Rostec said in a statement.

Regarding the HIMARS, and its bigger cousin the M270 MLRS, Both are in use in Ukraine and perform the same role, with the larger M270 firing the exact same rocket types as the HIMARS, but having two racks of six vs. the HIMARS single rack. The M270 also has better armor protection than the HIMARS, but is not as mobile.

The Tornado-S and HIMARS/M270 play similar roles on the battlefield, but have some important differences:

1) The Tornado-S system is much larger than either the HIMARS or M270 and can can fire off twice as many rockets in one salvo as the HIMAR - 12 vs 6.. The M270 can fire off all 12 of its rockets in less than a minute.

2) The standard 300mm multiple launch baseline rocket for the Tornado-S is much more powerful than the standard 227mm HIMARS/M270 rockets. (Note: All other things equal, a 300mm rocket will be roughly twice the weight and can use extra weight for greater range or a bigger payload.)

3) HIMARS/M270's can be reloaded much more quickly than the Tornado-S. Unlike the HIMARS/M270, where empty pods can be quickly swapped for pods pre-loaded with six rockets, the Tornado-S is a tube based system that requires that each tube be loaded separately.

4) The standard MLRS rockets launched by the Tornado-S have have a published range of 100 KM vs the the 70 KM of GLMRS rockets lauched by the M142/M270. But the HIMARS does have special extended range rockets (ER GMLRS) with ranges of 150 km or greater.

5) The HIMARS/M270 can fire single a 610mm ATACMS missile from each six rocket rack that significantly outranges even the longest range Tornado-S rocket - 300 km vs. 200 km (soon to be fielded).

6) Both are are extremely accurate, with Rostec claiming precision guided rockets fired from the Tornado-S have a circular error probable accuracy of 1 meter, and HIMARS rockets boasting the same 1 meter accuracy.

7) Tornado-S uses Russia's GLOSNASS while HIMARS/M270 uses GPS for precision guidance.

It is currently unknown just how much the Tornado-S has been used in Ukraine and to what effect. And it is also suspected that Ukraine would not release such information in order to prevent Russia from being able to evaluate the Tornado-S's effectiveness.


Both the Tornado S and M142/M270 MLRS systems are being used in Ukraine with the Western systems receiving a lot of recognition for their ability to take out Russian artillery and other assets.

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