Belarus Acquires New Polonez-M MLRS Rocket Launchers in Response to Polish M142 HIMARS

As reported by Belta on November 15, 2023, the rocket artillery brigade of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus received a batch of upgraded Polonez-M 301 mm multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). Belarus's deployment of a fresh batch of Polonez-M MLRS is seen as a response to Poland's acquisition of the American M142 HIMARS.
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The Armed Forces of Belarus received a new batch of Polonez-M 301 mm multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), an upgraded version of the Belarusian Polonez 300 mm MLRS. (Picture source: Belarus MoD)

The Polonez-M, an upgraded version of the existing Polonez MLRS, has undergone significant improvements in its tactical and technical characteristics, allowing it to simultaneously engage up to eight targets with high precision at a range of up to 300 km. The Polonez-M is designed to effectively neutralize diverse targets, including command posts, weapons arsenals, and concentrations of enemy equipment and personnel.

Equipped with 301mm guided missiles B200 and B300, which are structural analogs of the Chinese A200 and A300 missiles, the Polonez-M has the capacity to strike up to eight targets simultaneously with high accuracy at an extended range of 300 kilometers, according to the Ministry of Defense of Belarus. The missiles feature detachable combat stages with aerodynamic control units and inertial navigation modules with GLONASS/GPS/Beidou correction. Viktor Gulevich, Chief of the General Staff of the Belarusian Armed Forces, emphasized the system's role in enhancing capabilities and delivering a deterrent message to potential aggressors.

Russian and Bielorussian military experts have identified several advantages of the Belarusian MLRS Polonez-M over its Russian counterpart Tornado-S. These include a more advanced modular recharging principle, increased range to 290 km, and superior flight performance parameters. The utilization of Chinese technology in the Polonez-M, as suggested by military expert Andrei Frolov, prompts further investigation into the collaborative efforts between Belarus and China in developing this advanced missile system.

The Polonez-M MLRS is mounted on the MZKT-7930 8x8 truck chassis, a platform known for housing various other weapons systems, including the Iskander tactical missile system, the Bastion coastal missile system, and the S-400 air defense system. The system's deployment time is reported to be 10 minutes, with a combat crew of four people capable of continuous operation for up to 48 hours.

Speculation about the potential transfer of Polonez-M to the Russian army is contingent on licensing agreements between China and Belarus concerning the use and sales of these systems. Military expert Yuri Lyamin notes Chinese tolerance regarding the use of their weapons in conflict zones through third countries. Opinions on the necessity of the Polonez-M system for the Russian army vary, with some experts arguing that existing capabilities, such as the Iskander and Tornado-S MLRS, are sufficient.

On the other hand, as reported on September 20, 2023, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces carried out nighttime operations against Armenian positions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while using Belarusian-made V-200 Polonez Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). In 2019, according to Russian sources, at the 9th arms exhibition "Milex-2019" (MILEX 2019), a source in the Belarusian defense-industrial complex said that Belarus was also supplying the Azerbaijani Armed Forces with modernized Polonez-M MLRS.

Belarus Polonez M 925 002

The Polonez is a Belarusian 300 mm MLRS using eight rocket launchers packaged in two four-rocket pods mounted on an MZKT-7930 vehicle. (Picture source: Yandex)