Weapons: The Other Artillery Guided Rocket Systems


December 8, 2022: In November Turkey quietly delivered one or more of its TRLG -230 guided artillery rocket systems to Ukraine. These were soon seen in action via a video supplied by the Ukrainians. This is the first use of TRLG-230 in combat, which is what Turkey wanted and the Ukrainians were willing to provide. TRLG -230 has a range of 75 kilometers and is the latest of several guided artillery rocket systems available to Ukraine. TRLG -230 has a laser guidance option, enabling the rockets to hit moving targets, like ships.

Ukraine received and heavily used the American GMLRS system because it was what the Americans and some NATO nations offered. Moreover, the American system has more actual combat experience than any of the others. As a result of all that use, the rocket, its guidance system and its vehicles have been updated, improved and made easier to use.

Russia (Tornad0), China (SR-5), Israel (EXTRA, Predator Hawk), South Korea (K239) and several other countries have developed similar systems. Only the Israeli guided rockets have any combat experience; in Syria against Iran. Russia has used its Tornado guided rocket system against Ukraine but the Russians have few rockets available and lack the sophisticated and very effective target acquisition (using UAVs, satellites photos and informant) and fire control system the Ukrainians have developed.

Poland was impressed by the South Korean K239 system, which has been in use since 2015. This is similar to HIMARS and uses two sizes of guided rockets (239mm and 400mm) that have ranges of 80 km and 290 km). South Korea based its K239 on GMLRS and HIMARS, which they were familiar with. Poland is also buying GMLRS/HIMARS.

China has exported its SR-5 system to at least half a dozen countries. Some countries, like Russia and China, developed their first guided rocket system by taking existing unguided rocket systems and adding satellite navigation systems and the mechanical components (movable control fins) to make it work. There was some trial and error involved and that led to improved systems that were often modeled on the well-known (for its extensive combat use) GMLRS.

Turkey providing Ukraine with TRLG-230 annoys the Russians, but no more than the Turks already supplying Ukraine with TB-2 missile-armed UAVs and building Ukraine a large warship for use in the Black Sea. China’s refusal to provide Russia weapons is the Chinese way to emphasize how much they disagree with Russia invading Ukraine and failing. China is losing a useful military partner and seeing the economic usefulness of Russia shrink under crippling economic sanctions.


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