With The T-300 MLRS Turkey Joins The Rocket Artillery Club
Less than a dozen countries can boast having mature rocket artillery capabilities. Turkey is one of them thanks to the state-owned Roketsan, a defense contractor specializing in precision ordnance. In less than 20 years Roketsan expanded its R&D and product range until these reached parity with similar offerings from Russia, China, and the European Union.
During this week’s massive IDEF 2015 arms show, Roketsan displayed their T-300, the heaviest artillery system used by the Turkish armed forces, outside their booth in Hall 5 of the spacious venue. The T-300 is an exotic piece of hardware that’s all too uncommon among modern militaries. Only Russia and China seem to have a requirement for such large rockets, deploying their own 300mm multi-launch systems–BM-30 and A-100, respectively–at the brigade level.
A complete outlier is Iran, whose defense complex managed to produce the Fadjr 5, a 333mm rocket with a range of almost 100 kilometers. A two-stage variant of the Fadjr 5 can reach targets from twice that distance.
Turkey, however, seems to have allowed Roketsan to innovate by imitating a foreign system. A quick check of their surface-to-surface product line reveals that their artillery rocket program originates with the lightweight 107mm and its 12-barrel launcher mounted on a towed carriage. The system is best known as the Type 63, a Chinese product that was predictably crude but effective for asymmetric wars in the developing world.
This still manifests today in Iraq, with the Iranian copy of the Type 63, the Fadjr 1, being used against the Islamic State. Meanwhile, Turkey seems to have acquired a license for both the 107mm Type 63 and the 122mm Type 81 that were available from the Chinese and improved on the originals. Each Turkish rocket was designated “TR,” hence the TR-107, TR-122, and the TR-300.
Roketsan has been very successful with its fresh spin on the 122mm platform. The T-122’s launchers, with two cells having 20 tubes each, are mounted on a 6×6 MAN truck chassis equipped with GPS and a fire control system. Operational by 2004, the T-122 has so far been exported to Azerbaijan, a major customer for Turkish arms.
The T-300, on the other hand, is simply a four-tube launcher on the same 6×6 truck chassis as the T-122. It’s worth noting that appearance-wise, the T-300 does resemble the Norinco A 100, albeit with fewer launch tubes. The T-300’s cab, like the T-122, also supports a .50 M2 Browning secondary armament. The powerful TR-300 rockets it carries can each hit targets from 40 km to beyond 100 km away.
The T-300 doesn’t have international customers yet.