The Tornado is built as a complete mobile weapons platform, consisting of a fully-suspended, heavy-duty mover vehicle.
The introduction of the world’s most powerful and long-range multiple rocket launcher Tornado in 2014 marked a new era of rocket artillery system. In fact, the Tornado is a deep modernization of the BM-30 Smerch, aimed at replacing the previous generation of Russian multiple rocket launchers, including BM-21 Grad, BM-27 Uragan and BM-30 Smerch. Currently the sole operator is Russian Ground Forces. An export version is under development.
The Tornado is built as a complete mobile weapons platform, consisting of a fully-suspended, heavy-duty mover vehicle, and a rear-mounted rocket launcher system. The system is based on the chassis of the Kamaz-63501 8×8 military truck, which provides good tactical mobility.
Tornado is equipped with a single container with six launcher tubes for 300-mm rockets, which can fire all current Smerch rockets, including HE-FRAG, incendiary, thermobaric, cluster with anti-personnel or anti-tank mines. Cluster rounds may also carry self-targeting anti-tank munitions. The 800 kg standard rocket has a maximum range of 90 km. A range and direction correction system provides better accuracy compared to its predecessors. A full salvo of this rocket system covers area of 32 hectares.
Launching pods with smaller 220 mm Uragan rockets were also developed for this system. Some sources report that pods with even smaller 122 mm Grad rockets were also under development. However the Russian Army already adopted and operates Tornado-G and Grad-K artillery rocket systems with 122 mm rockets.
The vehicle is fitted with a 360 horsepower diesel engine, allowing to reach a maximum road speed of 90 km/h. Operational range of the vehicle is 1,000 kilometers. A typical operating crew is just two personnel thanks to heavy use of automation in the firing sequence. The overall vehicle weight is in the range of 24.5 tons and, dimensionally, features a length of 11.2 meters with a width of 2.5 meters and a height of 3.15 meters.
Russian ground forces received about 30 Tornado-G systems in 2011, replacing the BM-21 Grad. The improved Tornado-S was upgraded with the special GLONASS satellite navigation system used in the Smerch missile system. Russian forces used Tornado-S during the armed conflict in the Donbass and the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of an all-out invasion of Ukraine. Russian troops have been shelling and destroying critical infrastructure, residential areas of Ukrainian cities and villages using artillery, multiple rocket launchers and ballistic missiles.