Avibrás Astros II

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Avibrás Astros II

Introduction

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The Artillery Rocket Saturation Area System (Astros II) was developed in 1981 by Avibrás Aeroespacial S/A in response to a demand from Iraq, which was in a war against Iran and needed a weapon capable of facing and deterring massive attacks. The Astros II is remarkable for its unique ability to operate three different rocket calibers from the same platform, allowing for great flexibility in terms of range and quantity of ammunition to be fired.

Development

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The development of the Astros II began in 1981, fueled by financial resources from Iraq, which was a Western ally at the time. With the support of American satellites providing information about the positions and movements of Iranian forces, the system proved highly effective, balancing the military situation in the region during the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted until 1988.

The first version of the Astros was mounted on a domestically manufactured Mercedes-Benz L-2013 6x2 truck. After some modifications, including the addition of an armored cabin, the system was officially presented in 1982 with the designation Astros I T-O, affectionately nicknamed “Brucutu” due to its peculiar appearance. The Astros I T-O had the ability to operate three different rocket calibers: SS-30, SS-40, and SS-60.
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Subsequently, due to the need for a more robust truck, Avibrás chose to import from Germany a civilian Mercedes-Benz 2028-A 6x6 chassis, which became the standard for Astros II production. The vehicle underwent reinforcements and modifications by Avibrás’ subsidiary, Tectran S/A, and was designated as the Tectran Off-Road Truck, VBT-2028.

A significant improvement in the system was the armored cabin, inspired by the American M-26 Pacific armored trailer used in World War II. Avibrás technicians studied an existing specimen of this trailer, which was on display at the School of Military Material in Rio de Janeiro, and made substantial modifications to create the new configuration of the standard vehicle platform for various Astros II versions.

Serial production of the Astros II began in 1983, and a typical battery configuration consisted of six multiple-launch vehicles, six resupply vehicles, and a Swiss-origin central fire director, nationalized and produced by Avibrás.

The Astros II has the ability to operate in different environments, including using ramps and waterborne methods on rafts, making it suitable for operations in the Amazon Basin and the Pantanal, with real tests conducted in all these modalities.

Powertrain

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The Astros II is mounted on a 6x6 chassis, initially using the Mercedes-Benz 2028-A chassis and later the Tatra T-815-7 - 6x6 chassis, manufactured in the Czech Republic. This choice allowed the system greater maneuverability on rugged terrain, ensuring better operational performance.

Types of Rockets

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The Astros II is notable for its versatility in terms of the types of rockets it can launch. The main calibers and their characteristics are as follows:

  1. SS-30: A 127mm rocket with a range of 9 to 40 km, depending on the configuration.
  2. SS-40: A 180mm rocket capable of launching 8 rockets (160 submunitions) with a range of 18 to 35 km.
  3. SS-60: A 300mm rocket capable of launching 2 rockets (104 submunitions) with a range of 23 to 85 km.
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In addition to these main calibers, the system also has the ability to launch other types of rockets, including tactical missiles, as mentioned in the development section.

Table of Features (Chronological Order)

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Below is a summarized table with the characteristics and chronological order of the Astros II development:

Year Development and Notable Events
1981 Commencement of Astros II System Development
1982 Official Presentation of Astros I T-O
1983 Commencement of Serial Production of Astros II
2009 Replacement of Mercedes-Benz chassis with Tatra T-815-7
2011 Adoption of Astros II MK-6 (Astros 2020) by the Army and Marine Corps
Present In development is the Astros TM version with a range of 150 km to 300 km

Conclusion

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The Astros II System is a remarkable achievement of the Brazilian defense industry, developed to meet a critical demand from Iraq during a period of conflict. Its ability to operate different rocket calibers and its versatility in various environments make it a fundamental piece in the military arsenal of several nations, including Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia. Furthermore, its ongoing development and adaptation demonstrate its commitment to remain relevant in the global defense landscape.

Here’s the historical evolution of Avibrás’ Astros System:

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Year Version Brief History
1981 Astros I The first prototype known as “Brucutu,” without armored cabin, three types of vehicles (launcher, fire control, and resupply), Mercedes-Benz L-2013 chassis, 6x2, domestically produced. It was never produced in series.
1983 Astros II The first version produced in series with an armored cabin, electronics, and analog communication system, German Mercedes-Benz 2028A chassis, 6x6, three types of vehicles (launcher, fire control, and resupply). Successfully tested in Iraq despite difficulties in the country, mainly due to the Air Force.
1986 MK-I An evolution of the previous Astros II with changes in electronics and mechanics in all vehicles, using the same analog communication system. Widely exported to Iraq and a battery for the Brazilian army. An innovation was the addition of another workshop-type vehicle mounted on the same chassis. It uses rockets SS-30, SS-40, and SS-60.
1998 Astros II An updated version to meet the Brazilian Army’s needs. It introduced a tilting cabin, greatly facilitating maintenance. It featured a new radio system, still analog but superior to the previous version. A novelty was the creation of a vehicle specifically for meteorological work, called AV-MET, mounted on a Ford F-1000, suitable for our territory and not for export. Exported to Saudi Arabia.
2001 MK-2 Considered a significant technological leap from the previous version as it started using digital electronics and included a navigation system in all vehicles using GPS and DGPS. A new 4x4 vehicle for command and control was introduced, with the role of executing and coordinating fire support planning at the battery and group levels. In this version, the SS-80 rocket (300mm) with a range of 85km at sea level was introduced, along with submunitions with self-destruction devices, as well as the 100mm training rocket. Exported to Malaysia.
2009 Astros II The most modern version with innovations in electronics, hydraulics, and various equipment, including state-of-the-art gyroscopes. The chassis was upgraded to a TATRA 6x6, providing better performance to the vehicle.
2011 Astros 2020 This is the Astros 2020 version with the ability to launch the AV-MT 300 missile with a range of 300 km. It was acquired by the Brazilian Army and the Marine Corps of the Brazilian Navy in 2011. The total cost of this project is R$1.091 billion, with development expected to take six years (2011 to 2016). In the future, all existing Astros II vehicles in the Army will have this configuration.

The Astros II system consists of seven types of vehicles: AV-LMU (Launcher), AV-RMD (Resupply), AV-UCF (Fire Control Unit), AV-MET (Meteorological Station), AV-OFVE (Electronic Vehicle Workshop), AV-VCC (Command and Control Vehicle - battalion level), and AV-PCC (Command and Control Post - battery level). The family of rockets used by the Astros II system includes the following models: TS-09 (Training), SS-30, SS-40, SS-60, and SS-80, with ranges varying from 9 to 85 km at sea level. The AV-MT 300 missile has a range of 300 km.

Images:

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source:

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Blindados no Brasil – Expedito Carlos Stephani Bastos

https://www.avibras.com.br/site/areas-de-atuacao/defesa/astros.html
https://portalbids.com.br/2022/07/19/astros-2020/
Sistema de mísseis e foguetes ASTROS 2020
https://tecnodefesa.com.br/ira-envia-sistemas-astros-ii-iraquianos-para-a-russia/
LAAD 2023 e a Avibras Aeroespacial e Defesa: Astros III, Astros AFC e Míssil Tático de Cruzeiro

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The ASTROS is a very nice vehicle, but I don’t know how it would be added, cause it is indirect artillery. Great suggestion tho. +1

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