For the first time in Russia-Ukraine War, the Russian Tornado-S large-caliber multiple rocket launchers have been destroyed successfully by Ukraine armed forces.
The improved Tornado-S was upgraded with the special GLONASS satellite navigation system used in the Smerch missile system. The Tornado-S has guided rocket rounds with a range of 72 miles (120 km). The Tornado-S has a longer range and increased effectiveness, due to the use of new warhead payloads and a reduced launch readiness time of just three minutes.
The Tornado-S was approved for service in July–August 2016 and started its serial deliveries. 20 Tornado-S vehicles ordered in summer 2019.] A new order was made in August 2020. More missiles ordered in August 2022.
Russian forces used Tornado-S during the War in Donbass and the 2022 invasion in Ukraine.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has been continuously claiming to destroy the U.S. made “HIMARS” rocket artillery systems of the Ukrainian army, but the numbers of HIMARS with the Ukrainian Army is still increasing, and there is a lack of sufficient evidence to prove that Russians have been able to destroy HIMARS. Analysts who are a little more reasonable scoff at these claims, while Russian military bloggers are more direct, saying that the continuous release of false information has not only seriously damaged the credibility of the Russian Ministry of Defense, but also made the frontline Russian troops receive unnecessary damage.
No one knows whether the Russian army destroyed the “HIMARS” rocket launcher, but it is certain that the Russian army’s BM-30 “Tornado” long-range rocket launcher was destroyed. As for whether it was destroyed by the Ukrainian army, or the Russian army destroyed it while retreating is still not clear. A destroyed “tornado” rocket artillery system was found in the Igyum area. This is the main long-range rocket in active service of the Russian army. It surpassed the “HIMARS” in terms of range and warhead power. However, there is a big gap in the level of informatization, response speed, and strike accuracy.
At about the same time, the front-line Russian army revealed that the Ukrainian army’s “HIMARS” rocket launcher is expanding the range of shooting targets. Previously, the Ukrainian army mainly used the “HIMARS” rocket launcher to attack the Russian army’s command posts, ammunition depots and transportation hubs, important facilities, etc, but starting from the Igyum offensive, the “HIMARS” rockets began to attack the equipments of the Russian army.
If this news is true, then the “tornado” is likely to be destroyed by the “HIMARS”. With the support of military-grade GPS signals, the satellite-guided rockets fired by the “HIMARS” have been proven to hit accurately, they have comparable accuracy of laser-guided munitions, and the United States also provided Ukraine with M30 series of satellite-guided rockets after the M31 series of satellite-guided rockets. The latter’s warhead is equipped with 182,000 tungsten alloy balls, and the airburst can cover 1 square kilometer, the area is enough to destroy all soft targets, including light armored vehicles, and it is not a problem to deal with “tornadoes”.
“Tornado” and “HIMARS” belong to the same weapon category, but compared to the latter, “Tornado” performed much worse on the Ukrainian battlefield. In addition to the lack of guided munitions, the main problem is that the Russian army is facing difficult to determine where are the important targets of the Ukrainian army, it is naturally impossible to talk about precision strikes. The reason why the Ukrainian army can use the tactical weapon of the “HIMARS” rocket launcher as a quasi-strategic weapon is largely due to the fact that it can accurately smash the rockets it launches on the head of the Russian army, especially the command post and ammunition depots and other facilities.
It should be noted that, in addition to relying on technical means to obtain targets, the Ukrainian people in the enemy-occupied areas also played an important role. They took photos of important Russian military facilities they discovered and uploaded them to a special website. Ukrainian military intelligence personnel analyzed and confirmed the target, and timely attack it.The “HIMARS” rocket can shoot 6 satellite-guided rockets and leave within tens of seconds, while the 90 kg semi-armor-piercing warhead of the M31 series satellite-guided rockets is enough to destroy most targets. Of course, the Antonov Bridge is an exception. To destroy this kind of target, at least 500 kg guided bombs must be used.
Since the appearance of “HIMARS” on the battlefield, the Russian army has been studying how to destroy it, but it is too difficult. The series of results announced by the Russian Ministry of Defense cannot be said to be credible, but it can only be said that there is a lack of evidence to support it. “HIMARS” is highly-mobile, and it is active behind the Ukrainian front. It only takes a few minutes from entering the position to launching rockets and leaving. It is really difficult to accurately locate it and mobilize firepower to destroy it in limited time.
With the arrival of Iranian drones, the Russian military has got some hope. The Iranian drones mentioned here are not those suicide drones. The Iranian suicide drones used by the Russian army can only attack fixed targets, but those reconnaissance drones with attack capabilities are different. According to the situation of Iranian drones, these Iranian drones can carry TV-guided air-to-ground missiles, and have the ability to detect and destroy high-mobility targets such as “HIMARS” rocket launchers.
However, by inspecting the seized Iranian drones and their wreckage, the Ukrainian side found that these Iranian drones were in a “usable” state, using a large number of consumer-grade components, and there were many problems. It seems that the Russian side believes that Iran has no one before. It is true that the machine is full of failures. Moreover, the United States and Israel and other countries are also providing various types of anti-drone equipment and technical support to Ukraine.
In addition to trying to make up for the shortcomings of its own battlefield reconnaissance system, the reason why the Russian army uses Iranian drones is largely because Iranian drones are cheap, especially those suicide drones, which are probably only tens of thousands of dollars per unit, and the lowest unit price of Russian cruise missiles is several million dollars.
The Russian army has rarely used cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles recently. Analysts believe that in addition to insufficient inventory, it is also preparing to launch a wave of violent attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure after the arrival of winter. Of course, it is difficult to say whether it will work or not the Ukrainian air defense network is also slowly getting stronger.