Monday, September 18, 2006

Weapons File - ASTROS II MRL

AV-LMU launcher vehicle
Chassis : Tectran 6x6
Combat Weight : 20 tons
Speed : 100km/h (road); 70km/h (off-road)
Dimensions : 8.0m(L) x 2.6m(H) x 2.4m(W)
Armament : 1 x 7.62mm FN MAG MG, rockets

Rocket Projectile*
Calibre : 70mm
Warhead Type : HE-Frag
Load per launcher : 32
Range : 4,000-10,000m
Note : training rockets

Calibre : 127mm
Warhead Type : HE-Frag
Load per launcher : 32
Range : 9,000 – 30,000m

Calibre : 300mm
Warhead Type : HE-Frag; DPCIM, HE-Incendiary, AT mines, AP mines and runway denial munitions are also available.
Load per launcher : 4
Range : 20,000-60,000m (SS-60); 22,000 – 90,000m (SS-80)

The ASTROS (Artillery SaTuration Rocket System) comes from the renowned Brazilian weapons manufacturer Avibras Industria Aerospacial S/A. The system is in use by the Brazilian Army and has enjoyed export success with purchases made by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Malaysia. The system is also battle-proven, having been used by the Iraqi Army in Iran-Iraq War and by the Saudis during Desert Storm. Unlike earlier rocket artillery systems which usually consist of launcher vehicles only, Astros offers a fleet of specialized vehicles to form a complete system. They are:

Universal Multiple Launcher vehicle (AV-LMU) – the sharp end of the system, being able to fire five types of rockets with different calibers.
Ammunition Supply Vehicle (AV-RMD) – used to resupply the LMUs, it can carry two complete loads for each launcher.
Battalion Command And Control (AV-VCC) – each vehicle provide battalion level command and control facilities for up to three batteries.
Battery Command and Control (AV-PCC) – providing battery level command and control facilities.
Electronic Fire Control Unit (AV-UCF) – The vehicle facilitates fire direction procedures using its on-board radar and computer.
Mobile Workshop (AV-OFVE) – used to provide and facilitate field maintenance and repair for the whole system
Mobile Weather Station (AV-MET) – used to measure atmospheric conditions in order to facilitate accurate firing solutions.

As part of its modernization programme, the Malaysian Army has bought the system in 2001 with deliveries completed in October 2002. In preparation, a number of officers and enlisted men from the Royal Artillery Regiment, Artillery Training Centre, Royal Ordnance Corps and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Corps were sent to Brazil to attend a series of maintenance and handling courses to ensure full capability to handle the rocket system. The Malaysian purchase consists of 18 AV-LMUs, 18 AV-RMDs, 1 AV-VCC, 3 AV-PCCs, 3 AV-UCFs, 2 AV-METs and 3 AV-OFVEs – enough to equip three batteries. The ASTROS MRLs form the 51st Regiment Royal Artillery based at Gemas Camp in Johor/Negeri Sembilan. The three batteries of the 51st Regiment are named after traditional Malay weapons: Battery Alpha is named Keris, Battery Bravo is named Panah and Battery Charlie is named Tombak.

In January 2006, 51st Regiment was declared to be fully operational and is placed directly under Army Field Command HQ after previously being under the command of the Army’s 3rd Division. The new organisation basically means that the ASTROS system is considered a high-valued and strategic-type weapon system. The system can be used as general artillery bombardment system or as counter-battery system in conjunction with artillery spotting and battlefield surveillance radars used by the Malaysian Army such as ARTHUR and ASKARAAD.

* Data for rockets purchased by Malaysia, other rockets include SS-150 and tactical missiles.

On a personal note, certain forumners in a certain forum in a certain country makes a whole lot of fuss concerning Astros…probably because not only the system is organized as a ‘strategic’ weapon, but in their case, the weapon truly become strategic as it placed their whole country within its firing range.

Top : ASTROS AV-LMU launcher at Merdeka Parade. (Tentera Darat)
Middle : SS-80 rockets leaving their launch tubes during firepower demonstration at Tanjung Hantu, Perak in 2003. (GempurWira)
Bottom : Firepower demonstration at Jementah firing range using SS-30 rockets in 2006. (GempurWira)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Time to upgrade to the AV/MT-300. With its 300km+ range we can suppress that certain country's airfields from as far north as Gemas.