Rocket launchers in the Czech Army as a reaction for asymmetric conflicts?

 30. 07. 2019      category: Army of the Czech Republic

Multiple rocket launchers are back in play around the world. After many years, when barrel artillery, suitable for precise aimed fire, was especially preferred, rocket launchers take on growing significance again. It was confirmed, among others, by a series of current, asymmetric conflicts in Syria or Ukraine, where rocket launchers were deployed on a mass scale and with big success. The Army of the Czech Republic deactivated the RM-70/85 rocket launchers, carrying 40 122 mm barrels, in 2010. Is it time to revalue this decision?

Picture: The Army of the Czech Republic deactivated the RM-70/85 rocket launchers (the picture shows RM-70 GRAD), carrying 40 122mm barrels, in 2010 | Wikimedia Commons

The Czech Army was a long-term user of multiple rocket launchers. The former Czechoslovak People's Army already in the '50s adopted the 130 mm rocket launcher model 51. This type was later replaced by the RM-70/85 rocket launcher with 40 122 mm barrels, which was used in a great number both in the Czechoslovak People's Army and consequently in the Army of the Czech Republic. Although the deactivation meant an appreciable saving of the financial budget, it would be – with regard to the current state and future purchases – an imaginary drop in the ocean. The biggest issue was that the service life of the rocket launchers wasn’t expired in the moment of deactivation, and in addition there was a relatively big potential of their modernization. It could prolong the service life without problem till the current and even future years.

The foundation of the Rocket Forces, of cause, means the increase of manpower, a necessity of considerable organization and logistics, assurance of supply and so on. However, it should be always taken into consideration. The currently arising airborne regiment is developing in a moment when the shipping capacities of the Czech Army, let’s say, debatable. To rely to allies and their equipment appears to be not the best solution, and the number of CASA cargo planes and Mi-171 helicopters in the context with necessary maintenance, failure rate, service in Sinai Peninsula is not high. Exactly the opposite, with regards to the fact that CASA is able to transport about 42 fully-armed parachutists, it is even low. Could the Rocket Forces, by applying multiple rocket launchers, discharge an important task? Or maybe a better solution is to follow the Czech Armed Forces Development Concept?

Picture: The rocket launcher on the chassis of TATRA FORCE 4x4

Domestic supplier

However, with the passage of years, when weighing up the implementation of multiple rocket launchers in the Czech Army, it is necessary to take into consideration the current market supply. There is no need to look far and wide to find out that the similar systems enjoy more and more popularity. Those who didn’t get rid the rocket launchers in former times, continue to hold them, and those who didn’t have, buy them. Current practice. One of the possible suppliers is Excalibur Army (Czechoslovak Group Holding) with its modernized RM-70 Vampire system (at the present time, model 4D), which offers high fighting power and was especially well-proved in a real fighting deployment. In addition, its mobility is ensured by the Tatra Force platform (formerly known as T 815-7), i.e. a well-proved classic solution that is used in the army and has service background. The Vampire disposes of a bunch of 40 122 mm missiles, which are already loaded in marching configuration of the rocket launcher. And other 40 rockets are in a feed mechanism placed directly on the rocket launcher. The total fire capacity, thus, is 80 rockets.

Picture: Modernized RM-70 system

The rocket charges are high-explosive fragmentation type, rotary with tilting stabilizing plates. Their maximum gun-range is 20,381 m, the areal effective firing range is up to 3 hectares. The dead-weight of the chassis with an empty rocket launcher is 18,080 kg; with a full set of rockets (80 rockets) is 24,140 kg. The basic configuration of the proper rocket launcher on the chassis of the vehicle corresponds to the original RM-70 Grad; most of the electronic installation, however, was absolutely reconstructed and modernized. In addition, all cabling was renewed. Vehicles of a battery, including commanding ones, are now interconnected by a modern fire control system. The equipment of each battery also includes a FO (Forward Observer) set.

Picture: Four-door model of the RM-70 VAMPIRE rocket launcher is equipped with the most modern fire control system

CSG has delivered the above-mentioned rocket launchers to India, which means that domestic manufacturing capacities in the Czech Republic has a potential. So, there is no need to rely on foreign deliveries, which - in case of a real conflict - are absolutely out of the use.

 Author: Martin Šiška