Chinese WM-80 MLRS discovered among Armenian armed forces

According to a tweet from Arbalet Intelligence dated November 26, we can observe the presence of a Chinese MLRS, the WM-80 export, within the Armenian armed forces. In this article, we will delve into the specifics of this launcher and its history within the Armenian armed forces.
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Chinese-made WM-80 Multiple Rocket Launcher System (MRLS) in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia (Picture source: Wikimedia)

The WM-80 Multiple Rocket Launcher System (MRLS), developed by the Chinese company Norinco based on the Type 83 (WM-40) 273 mm, has been spotted within the Armenian armed forces. The WM-80 has been sold to several states, including Armenia. This system long represented the heaviest and longest-range weapon in the Armenian arsenal, with the exception of ballistic missiles. It enabled Armenia to almost completely outrange the Azerbaijani army in terms of range until Azerbaijani military modernizations caught up with Armenian capabilities in the mid-2000s.

Weighing a total of 17.54 tons, this system measures 9.5 meters in length, 3 meters in width, and 3.3 meters in height. It is equipped with four 273 mm caliber rocket-launching tubes, each rocket weighing 484 kg, of which 134 kg corresponds to the weight of the warhead.

The WM-80 is capable of covering a range of distances from 34 to 80 kilometers, allowing it to strike distant targets with precision. Each full salvo can be fired in just 7.5 seconds, while the system's reload time varies between 5 and 8 minutes, thus offering a rapid response capability followed by efficient preparation for the next launch.

Recently, Armenia signed a contract with India for the procurement of the Pinaka rocket artillery system and ammunition, marking the first export order for this system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India. This acquisition is part of a broader context of losses suffered by Armenia, including the BM-30 Smerch and WM-80 systems, in recent conflicts.

In a geopolitical context, the presence of the WM-80 in Armenia underlines the importance of military alliances and partnerships in the Caucasus region. The diversification of armament sources, as demonstrated by the purchase of Chinese and Indian systems, reflects an Armenian strategy aimed at balancing regional influences and strengthening its position in a complex and often tense geopolitical environment.