The ability to concentrate strong firepower, enabled by the appearance of Tornado-G, the newest weapon in the Russian rocket artillery arsenal, has been one of the highlights of Russia’s and its supporting troops’ recent progress in the Donbass region.
In a recent video, a Tornado-G multiple rocket launcher can be seen firing towards a Ukrainian military convoy that is driving at night in Donetsk, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Many rounds were seen striking their targets and detonating, lighting up a large area, as captured by infrared cameras.
The Tornado-G is a completely new design that replaces the BM-21 Grad rocket artillery. Since the 2010s, Tornado-G systems have been deployed by the Russian army. The Tornado-G is equipped with a powerful computer and an automatic firing control system that supports Russian GLONASS satellite location. The new mechanism enables Tornado-G personnel to launch 40 122mm rocket rounds without exiting the launch vehicle. In less than a minute, the system changes to the ready-to-fire condition.
A 6×6 military Kamaz or Ural vehicle is used to transport the Tornado-G launcher. The technology could theoretically be mounted on any other vehicle as long as there is enough payload.
The crew of the Tornado-G is just 2-3 persons, as opposed to 6 people for the BM-21 Grad, because of integrated avionics. The weight of a Tornado-G launcher with all of its rockets loaded is 14 tonnes.
The Tornado-G can fire B-21 rocket artillery rounds as well as specialised 40, 70, or 90 km rockets.
Typical rocket warheads weigh 25–35 kg, while the rocket shell itself weighs 70 kg. Depending on the objectives of the battle, the Russian military employs a range of warheads, from HEAT anti-tank ammunition to fragmentation shells with adequate armour piercing power to take out light tanks and armoured vehicles.
The integrated GLONASS satellite navigation system allows the Tornado-G rocket to strike moving targets in any condition, day or night, and in any weather.
Tornado-G is entirely dependent on infantry and armoured assistance because, like other rocket artillery systems, it cannot fire within 4 kilometres of its target and lacks armour protection.
These rocket systems run the risk of being destroyed or taken prisoner by the enemy if they manage to get past the defence.
Initial confirmation of the Tornado-G systems combat in Ukraine since November 2022 came from the Russian military. There are now 180 Tornado-G launchers in Russia. In 2018, an export version with certain trimmed features was released.
Compared to the HIMARS launch vehicle, which can cost up to $5 million USD, each Tornado-G system is substantially less expensive, costing only about $450,000 USD.
Additionally, Russia also has a line of powerful Tornado rocket artillery known as Tornado-S. Currently, just 20 Russian Tornado-S launchers are believed to exist. The maximum range of a 300mm rocket launched by a Tornado-S is 120 kilometres. Russia started testing rockets in 2020 that might extend the Tornado-range S’s by up to 200 kilometres.