Artillery: Truck Load Of Trouble

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February 1, 2022: At the end of 2021 Iran added a new guided missile to their export offering. The new development is the truck-mounted BM-120 system, which carries six single-stage solid fuel ballistic missiles. Each missile is in a rectangular storage/launch canister. These are mounted on the truck in two rows of three missiles each. All the canisters can be elevated, from inside the truck, to a 45-degree launch angle and fired singly on in groups at designated (by GPS coordinates) targets the crew enters into each missile’s guidance system. Each missile uses INS (Inertial Guidance System) as a backup for more accurate satellite navigation. This can be GPS or the Chinese operated version of GPS. Satellite guidance will put the 787 kg (1,700 pound) missile and its 150 kg (330 pound) explosive or cluster-bomb warhead within 30 meters of the target coordinates. If the satellite signal is jammed, the unjammable INS takes over and puts the warhead within 60-90 meters of the target.

The 368mm (14.5 inch) missile is 5.18 meters (17 feet) long and can be used against targets up to 120 kilometers distant, but no closer than 30 kilometers. As a ballistic missile, its speed approaching the target is over 1,300 meters (4,500 feet) a second.

The BM-120 system is carried on a 6x6 truck with a crew cab that also contains the fire control system. Minimum crew size is two but there are apparently seats for at least four. The missile appears to be the latest, and smallest, version of the Fateh family of solid-fuel ballistic missiles. The first Fateh type missile showed up in 2003 and was apparently based on the Chinese M11 ballistic missile. Iran apparently got help from the Chinese in developing manufacturing methods that produced stable solid fuel rocket engines for large missiles. Since 2003 the Fateh family of missiles has expanded with new models, usually smaller and with better guidance systems. Some of the Fateh missiles claim to use more precise radar/image matching terminal guidance. Iran is not exporting that yet. Prices for the BM-120 or reload missiles were not given and apparently depends on the customer. The current sanctions make it difficult, but not impossible to export weapons. Syria used to be a good customer, until the 2011 civil war. If Iran can get out of the many export sanctions, they have a large catalog of affordable and capable weapons available for sale to anyone who can pay.

 


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