Sunday, March 23, 2014

Burma Army’s MRLS Or Multi Rocket Launcher Systems

Type-81 MRLS firing in 2014 Wargame Anawyahtar.
Burmese Army has increased their defence budget multi-fold in recent years. Although Burma’s official defence budget is just over 2 billion US$ the actual defence spending goes well beyond 3 billion US$ every year last decade.

Burmese Army has been profiting hundreds of millions of US$ every year from the Army owned UMEHL (Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited) popularly known as Oo-Bye in Burmese. 

Army's UMEHL owns banks, TV stations, radio stations, hundreds of factories, and many other businesses. Because of UMEHL’s unannounced massive profits Myanmar military spend around 300-400 millions US$ every year for new weapon systems as their goal is simply to become a self-sufficient military in the region.

Burmese Army also has a very long running massive manufacturing behemoth called the Defence Industries (DI) since 1950s -- initially with massive German support from formerly FRG or West Germany -- and DI basically has been producing almost everything Burmese Army needs and uses since early 1960s.

Burma Navy nowadays also has one of the largest naval shipyards in the region. Frigates, corvettes, patrol boats, and missiles equipped FAC (Fast Attack Crafts) are being developed and built at that Rangoon Naval Dockyards.

Burma Army nowadays assembles 600 BTR 3 U APCs and 200 MT-LB MsH IFVs locally.  They even have an overhaul facility for MiG 29 SEs fighter jets. Their Defence Industries (DI) have been producing artillery pieces and all kinds of small weapons. They even produced trucks and utility vehicles.

Burma is rapidly becoming a powerful military power sitting on the South-Eastern border of South Asia and between two rival super powers India and China.

Showcasing Locally Made Multi Rockets Launcher Systems

Burma Army's Type-81 122 mm MRLS.
This year 2014 is a very significant year for Burmese military. Two huge wargames namely Anawyahtra army-air-armoured-artillery held in Meikhtilar Plain and Sea Shield 2014 Fleet Naval Exerxises held in the sea east of Coco Islands were totally unexpected events.

One particular new weapon system known to have been acquired by Burma Army since 1995 and showcased in the Wargame Anawyahtar was Type-81 122 mm MRLS (Multi Rocket launcher System) having the range of 8-20 kms and the capability of firing 40 rockets simultaneously or single individual rocket.

Originally the Chinese copies of Russian-made BM-21 122 mm MRLS the Burmese Army’s Type-81 122 mm MRLS are the locally-made improvements of Chinese Type-81s. Burmese version now has a range of 8-30 kms. Burmese Army has also North Korean-made M-1985 240 mm 12 barrels MRLS in addition to Type-81 and Type-90B 120 mm 40 barrels MRLS.

TORONTO, Canada - September 1, 2010: North Korean-made M-1985 truck-mounted multiple launch rocket systems have been reportedly set up at Burmese army bases in northern, eastern and central Burma, according to military sources.

The North Korean rockets were recently delivered to missile operation commands in Mohnyin in Kachin State, Naungcho and Kengtung in Shan State and Kyaukpadaung in Mandalay Division, sources said.
Burmese Army’s Missile operation commands were reportedly formed in 2009.

It is not clear when the multiple launch rocket systems were shipped from North Korea. However, military sources said delivery of rocket launchers mounted on trucks occurred several times in recent years.  

Sources said they witnessed at least 14 units of 240-mm truck-mounted multiple launch rocket systems arrive at Thilawa Port near Rangoon on the North Korean vessel, Kang Nam I, in early 2008. Previous reports said Burma had purchased 30 units of 240-mm truck-mounted multiple launch rocket systems from North Korean.

According to, North Korea produces two different 240mm rocket launchers, the 12-round M-1985 and the 22-round M-1991. The M-1985 rocket pack is easily identified by two rows of six rocket tubes mounted on a cab behind an engine chassis. The M-1991 is mounted on a cab over an engine chassis. Both launch packs can be adapted to a suitable cross-country truck.

The Kang Nam I was believed enroute to Burma again in June 2009. However, it reversed course and returned home after a US Navy destroyer followed it amid growing concern that it was carrying illegal arms shipments.

However, more arms shipments from North Korea appear to have been delivered to Burma in 2009-2010. The latest report about a North Korean vessel's arrival was in April. The ship, the Chong Gen, docked at Thilawa Port.

Burma Army's Type-90B 122 mm MRLS.
Last week, the junta acknowledged that the Chong Gen was at the port, but it denied involvement in any arms trading with Pyongyang, saying Burma follows UN Security Council resolution 1874 which bans arms trading with North Korea. The junta said the North Korean vessel came to Burma with shipments of cement and exported rice.

According to reports by Burma military experts Maung Aung Myoe and Andrew Selth, purchasing multiple-launch rocket systems is a part of the junta’s military modernization plan. While the junta has acquired 107-mm type 63 and 122-mm type 90 multiple-launch rocket from China, North Korea has provided it with 240-mm truck-mounted launch rocket.

Some experts have said North Korea is also involved in a secret relationship with Burma for the sale of short and medium-range ballistic missiles and the development of underground facilities. Other experts and Burmese defectors claim that North Korea is also providing Burma with technology designed to create a nuclear program.

Burma severed its relationship with North Korea in 1983 following North Korean agents’ assassination of members of a South Korean delegation led by President Chun Doo Hwan. The two countries restored relations in early 1990s and officially re-establish diplomatic ties in April 2007.

Russian Type-9K51 MRLS firing.
Un-guided individual MRLS rocket.
Guided individual MRLS rocket.
Related posts at following links:
Wargame Anawyahtar (2014): Burmese Army's Dire Warning to UWSA