FAS | Military | DOD 101 | Systems | Land | ROW ||||
Index | Search | Join FAS

9K51 BM-21 Grad (Hail)
9A51 Prima

Sakr-18 [Egyptian]
122-mm Multiple Rocket Launcher

The 122mm 40-tube multiple launch rocket system Grad (Hail), with a firing range of up to 20 km, was introduced into operational service with the Russian Army in 1963 [and initially designated in the West as the M1964]. The BM-21 is unquestionably the world’s most widely used MRL. The successful use of the Grad system in local conflicts of various intensity for three decades led many countries to develop similar systems. The launcher with supporting equipment is referred to as the complex 9K51. This 40-round launcher has four tiers of ten tubes mounted on the chassis of a truck.

The BM-21 can be distinguished from other multiple rocket launchers by the square-cornered, 40-tube launching apparatus (4 banks of 10 tubes), which is often covered by a protective canvas. It is mounted on the Ural-375D 6х6 truck chassis, which has a distinctive fender design and a spare tire on the rear side of the cab. The BM-21 also is the only known Soviet rocket launcher without blast shields on the driver's cab. However, the material used in the cab windows and windscreen is strong enough to withstand the overpressures and other effects associated with the firing of 122-mm rockets.

The BM-21 can be operated and fired from the cab, or it can be fired remotely at a distance of up to 60 meters, using a cable set. The launcher is traversed forward towards the cab for traveling and for firing uses two stabilizing jacks at the rear of the vehicle. A special electric generator powers the launcher. The 9V170 firing device is cab mounted, but the rockets can be fired using a remote-firing device that has a 64-meter-long cable. This MRL can fire all rockets in 6 seconds or fire each singly, and can reload in 5 minutes. It can fire the 40 rockets or any part thereof at a fixed 0.5-second interval. Single rockets can be fired manually at any desired interval. The five-man crew can reload the launcher in 8 minutes.

The BM-21 fires a "9-ft rocket" with a range of 20,380 meters. Each launch tube is grooved to impart a slow rotary motion to the rocket. However, the rocket is primarily fin-stabilized. This combination of spin- and fin-stabilization ensures closely grouped fire at ranges of up to 16 kilometers. The BM-21 and other 122mm rocket launchers can fire all 122mm rockets designed to fit in Soviet-derived 122mm launchers (including those that can achieve ranges of 30,000 to 36,000 meters). The 122-mm fin-stabilized rockets can deliver Frag-HE, chemical, or incendiary warheads to a range of over 20 kilometers, or the newer HE and cargo rockets out to 30 kilometers. On explosion, the warhead produces a great fragmentation effect and shock wave.

Because of its high volume of fire and large area coverage, the BM-21 is well suited for use against troops in the open, for use in artillery preparations, and for delivery of chemical concentrations. One volley from a BM-21 battalion is 720 rounds. Because these weapons have a large circular area probable (CEP), they are not suited for attacks against point targets.

The Ural-375D vehicle has a maximum road speed of 75 km/hr, a cruising range of 750 km, and an exceptional cross-country capability.

Rockets must always be fired with the vehicle parked obliquely to the target to avoid blast damage to the unprotected cab.

The BM-21 entered service in 1964 as a replacement for the 140-mm (16- and 17-round) BM-14 rocket launchers, and is now the most widely used truck-mounted rocket launcher in the Warsaw Pact forces. Heavier rocket launchers, including the 200-mm (4-round) BMD-20, the 240-mm (12-round) BM-24, and the 250-mm (6-round) BMD-25, are seldom seen in front-line units. Although the BM-21 rockets are smaller in caliber than previous models, the warhead is equal to that of the 140-mm rocket, and the range exceeds that of the older 140-mm and 240-mm models. Due to the smaller caliber of its rockets, the BM-21 also can fire a greater quantity of rockets than the earlier models, making it especially useful for area fire and delivering massive surprise fires. The BM-21 is found in the rocket launcher battalion organic to each motorized rifle and tank division. It also has been used at front and army level, where it was replaced by the 220-mm rocket launcher (16-round) BM-27 in some units.



Alternative Designations BM-21 GRAD (Hail) MRL
Date of Introduction 1963
Proliferation At least 50 countries
Crew 5 (8 with 9K51 Complex)
Chassis/Carriage Ural 375-D 6x6 wheeled
Combat Weight (mt) 13.7
Chassis Length Overall (m) 7.35
Height Overall (m) 3.09
Width Overall (m) 2.40
Automotive Performance
Engine Type ZIL 375, 180 hp water-cooled, V-8 gasoline engine
Cruising Range (km) 450 km
Speed (km/h)
Max Road 75
Max Off-Road 35
Cross-Country INA
Max Swim N/A
Fording Depths (m) Unprepared 1.5
Emplacement Time (min) 3
Displacement Time (min) 2
Radio R-123M
Armor, Front (mm) None
Armor Side (mm) None
Armor Roof (mm) None
Self-Entrenching Blade No
NBC Protection System No
Smoke Equipment No
Caliber, Type, Name 122-mm, 9P132
Number of Tubes 40 (4 rows of 10 tubes)
Launch Rate
Full Salvo Time 40 rounds in 20 seconds
Single Rocket Interval .5 seconds per rocket
Loader Type Manual
Reload Time 10 minutes
Launcher Drive Electric
Traverse (°)
Left 102
Right 70
Total 172
Elevation (°) (-/+) - 0/+55°
Indirect Fire PG-1M Panoramic Telescope (PANTEL)
Collimator K-1
Fire Control Computer None
Position Location System None
Caliber, Type, Name
122-mm Frag-HE, 9M22U
Indirect Fire Range (m)
Minimum Range 5000
Maximum Range 20,380
Warhead Weight (kg) 18.4 (M21OF)
Rocket Length (m) 2.87
Maximum Velocity INA
Fuze Type MRV-U (PD)
122-mm Frag-HE, 9M28F
Indirect Fire Range (m)
Minimum Range 1500
Maximum Range 15,000
Warhead Weight (kg) 21.0
Rocket Length (m) 2.87
Maximum Velocity INA
Fuze Type MRV-U (PD) or AR-6 (proximity)
122-mm Frag-HE, Type 90A (Chinese)
Indirect Fire Range (m)
Minimum Range 12,700
Maximum Range 32,700
Warhead Weight (kg) 18.3
Rocket Length (m) 2.75
Maximum Velocity INA
Fuze Type PD
Other Ammunition Types Smoke, Incendiary, Chemical, RF Jam-mer, Illumination, Antitank mines, Antipersonnel mines

Sources and Methods

FAS | Military | DOD 101 | Systems | Land | ROW ||||
Index | Search | Join FAS

Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Saturday, June 19, 1999 6:37:33 AM