The new TOS-1A, (Object 634 or TOS-1M), follows the previous design and is still basically a rocket launcher installed on a T-72A tank chassis. The system is made up of a launch vehicle (BM-1), two re-supply vehicles (TZM-T) on T-72 MBT chassis and the rockets. The crew is made up of three, driver, commander and gunner and they can aim and fire from inside the vehicle without exposing themselves to the enemy. Currently, these units usually have 8×8 KamAZ-6350 support trucks that carry two pods of 12 rockets each.
In this improved variant the number of 220mm rocket launcher cells has been reduced from 30 to 24 and they can be fired manually or automatically. In manual mode all rockets can be fired in about 12 seconds, while in automatic mode they can be fired in just 6 seconds. The TOS-1A has “MO.1.01.04” and “MO.1.01.04M” rockets. These rockets weigh 173 kg and 217 kg and measure 3.30 and 3.70 meters respectively and their range has been improved to 6,000 meters, although a new variant presented in 2020 reaches up to 10,000 meters. Its armament is completed with four smoke grenade dischargers and several self-protection weapons for the crew.
The launch vehicle (BM-1) is more sophisticated than the previous Buratino and has a new fire control system with a 1D14 laser range finder, a new aiming sight and a new ballistic computer. These elements are complemented by a GPK-59 navigation system, an R-163-50U radio station, a TKN-3A sight for the commander and an R-174 intercom system. The vehicle has a fire-fighting system and NBC protection, and the driver has the same vision elements as the T-72A MBT.
The TOS-1A received a modernization in 2016 with the addition of a new engine, improved active protection and improved launch system. These vehicles use the T-72B3 MBT chassis (on the image), and an export variant with T-90S MBT chassis has also been introduced. A prototype on a T-80U MBT chassis was also presented but no entered service. The first upgraded vehicles were delivered in 2018, and since then around 30 vehicles are believed to have been handed over to the Russian NBC Protection Troops.
The TZM-T reload vehicle (on the image) has replaced the KrAZ-255B truck and offers the same protection as the launch vehicle. It also carries three crew and has a combat weight of about 39 tons. On top of the hull there are two modules with 12 rockets each protected by armored covers. This vehicle has a 10t capacity hydraulic crane and also carries 400 liters of fuel to supply the launch vehicle if necessary. This vehicle is unarmed although its crew has several self-protection weapons such as machine guns, RPGs and hand grenades.
The Solntsepyok rockets have also been improved, and now they have an extended range of up to 10,000 meters thanks to a new solid-fuel propellant and a new thermobaric warhead. This new rocket was introduced in 2020 and has a lighter and smaller warhead, but more powerful thanks to a new fuel-air explosive mixture. It needs a minimum range of 1.6 km, so the former “M0.1.01.04M” type rockets have been kept to be able to attack nearby targets.
These rockets are suitable for use in close combat against entrenched troops or in urban combat. To do this they carry a thermobaric or fuel-air explosive (FAE) warhead that is made up of two essential parts. The first is a container with the explosive mixture and the other part is composed by two separate explosive charges. When the rocket is over the target, the first charge explodes dispersing a fine cloud (spray) of particles, (usually aluminum powder), that are ignited by the second explosive charge. This generates a long-lasting blast wave that produces much greater destruction as the cloud of particles penetrates spaces and cavities.
Ignition of the explosive mixture, (propylene oxide and ethylene oxide), usually occurs at the expanding outer edge of the fireball. This creates a reversal that sucks air back toward the blast point as the fireball cools. Likewise, a kind of vacuum is generated that causes a horrible death among those attacked. This blast wave mainly generates suffocation and burns, but in closed spaces the victims suffer internal injuries, ruptured lungs, crushed inner ear organs and burst eardrums. Even if the mixture does not explode, but deflagrates, the victims receive very serious burns and can die from the extremely high toxicity of the compound.
Unlike the TOS-1 Buratino, TOS-1A has been exported to half a dozen countries. Algeria (52), Azerbaijan (36), Armenia (6), Iraq (12) (on the image), Kazakhstan (3) and Syria (8) already have it in service, and Saudi Arabia began receiving a first batch in 2019, although its number is unknown.
According to some sources, it is quite likely that the Russian TOS-1A Solntsepyok had its baptism of fire in Chechnya as soon as it entered service or as part of its field tests. Then, in 2015, a TOS-1A was seen in the hands of pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region, undoubtedly provided by Russia. More recently, in February 2022, the Russians have deployed several TOS-1As during the invasion of Ukraine.There are some videos showing several abandoned vehicles captured by Ukrainian forces, who have used them against the Russians troops.
(Iraqi TOS-1A image). Other countries have also used the Solntsepyok in combat. Iraq used them for the first time in combat against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in October 2014 during the fighting to liberate the city of Jurf Al Sakhar. Later in June 2017, during the reconquest operations of Mosul, the TOS-1A launched their fearsome rockets against several buildings that served as a refuge for terrorists of the Islamic State (DAESH).
The Syrian Army has also used TOS-1As (on the image) against ISIS and rebel forces in a number of operations carried out between 2015 and 2018. The first time was in Hama in October 2015, later they operated near Aleppo, where one was destroyed by a anti-tank missile. In 2017 they were used to destroy an ISIS camp and against the Syrian Arab Army near Palmyra and in 2018 they were used against ISIS in the Al-Safa area.
In April 2016, the Azerbaijani Army launched an attack with its TOS-1A (on the image) against the Armenian Army. And in September 2020 they were used again during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Armenia also had some TOS-1As that presumably were also mobilized. The Saudi TOS-1A, on T-90S MBT chassis, went into action for the first time in April 2021 against Ansar Allah (Houthis) positions in Yemen. In February 2022 they were used again by the 18th Saudi Brigade against Houthi targets in Almalaheeth, Sadaa, North Yemen.

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