Artillery: July 4, 2002


India test-fired a Russian 300 mm "Smerch" 9K58 rocket on 29 June from the Interim Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea near Balasore in Orissa. The fully-developed rocket was fired from a specially designed launcher positioned at the ITR's Launch Complex No 2. Anywhere from 20 to 30 Russian scientists and technicians joined their Indian counterparts during the test.

The rockets are merely part of an advanced weapons system that the Indian military may acquire, have a range of up to 70 to 90 kilometers (55 miles). An entire system is composed of a launch vehicle, a transloader, rockets, training facilities and arsenal equipment. It takes three crewmen less than three minutes to set up a "Smerch" launcher for action and fire a salvo of 12 rockets.

Russia's arms exporting agency Rosvoorouzhenie formally offered the "Smerch"
Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) to India in 1998, but it was in after the Kargil crisis that India showed real interest and in early October 2000, the Russians announced that they were going to supply 18 "Smerch" to Delhi. The manufacturers tout the "Smerch" as highly effective for India's high-altitude mountain operations, due to it's FAE (Fuel Air Explosive, or Thermobaric) warheads, mobility and maneuverability in rugged terrain. "Smerch" rockets are capable of pulverizing adversaries hidden deep in caves, as well as the man-made fortifications and armored vehicles that India could encounter on other fronts. - Adam Geibel


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