By Derek Bisaccio, @DerekBisaccio
On June 10, Belarus' State Military Industrial Committee announced that state tests on a new multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) had been completed. The tests of the "Polonez" MLRS were finished on May 30, according to Belarus.
Up to 20 firms worked on the design of the Polonez MLRS, which was first revealed in a military parade in Minsk in May 2015. The system includes two pods, each with four tubes, and is based on an 8x8 MZKT-7930 chassis with a YaMZ-846 diesel engine. The parade featured two launcher vehicles as well as two accompanying transport and reloading vehicles. The support vehicles carry two pods with eight rockets, which are reloaded remotely.
In addition, the whole system can operate alongside a 6x6 command post vehicle, which is based on a MAZ-6317 chassis.
The MLRS bears a very strong resemblance to China's 300mm A200, a result of a 2013 agreement between Belarus and China on joint cooperation in developing a MLRS. A month after the Polonez was first revealed, the press service of the Belarusian presidency announced that the system had passed tests conducted in China.
The similarities in appearance likely suggest similarities in capabilities. Reportedly, the Polonez MLRS can strike eight targets over 200 km away, meaning that each rocket can be targeted individually. A full salvo can be fired in 50 seconds. The rockets for the system are likely 301mm rockets provided from China.
Following the completion of state tests, the Polonez MLRS is on schedule to enter service this year, as had been previously reported. As noted by Deputy Defense Minister Igor Lotenkov in February 2016, Belarus' 336th Rocket Artillery Brigade will receive the Polonez MLRS starting in September.
It is unclear how many of the multiple rocket launchers Belarus will ultimately procure, beyond four that have seemingly been built so far. Once in service, the Polonez will join Belarus' existing inventory of MLRS, which includes 122mm BM-21 Grad, 220mm 9P140 Uragan, and 300mm 9A52 Smerch.
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