The Polonez rocket artillery system first grew to become operational in 2016, and is broadly thought of most notable defence product developed in Belarus because the finish of the Soviet period in 1991. The disintegration of the Soviet Union noticed the big majority of the state’s defence sector inherited by Russia, with many of the the rest falling underneath Ukraine and Belarus the latter which stays carefully built-in with that of Russia. Whereas the majority of Belarusian arms manufacturing is represented by subsystems or transport autos for Russian weaponry, the nation has developed extra distinctive programs itself each for its personal armed forces and for export. The Polonez system was distinctive, nevertheless, for its heavy reliance on Chinese language applied sciences at a time of strengthening ties between Minsk and Beijing, which capitalised on China’s sturdy world management within the discipline of rocket artillery.
The Polonez accomplished testing in Might 2016, and begun deliveries to the Belarusian Military three months later. With Belarus being significantly specialised within the manufacturing of heavy wheeled autos, the Polonez used the indigenous 8×8 wheel MZKT7930 Astrolog chassis as a base for its cell launcher. Every carried eight Chinese language 301mm A200 rockets with a really lengthy vary of 200 km vary, which was later prolonged to 290km with the Polonez-M variant making them by far the longest ranged rocket artillery programs developed exterior China or North Korea. Belarusian authorities sources reported in 2021 that an indigenous rocket for the system would substitute the Chinese language unique and supply an identical vary, presumably indicating expertise transfers from China had been made.
Regardless of the Polonez’s superior capabilities, the system was not adopted in significant numbers with solely six launchers being delivered – and these being deployed underneath the 336th Rocket Artillery Brigade. The small dimension of Belarus’ rocket artillery forces means this was nonetheless not a completely insignificant quantity, with the Military deploying simply 42 300mm rocket artillery batteries the remaining 36 being Soviet constructed 9A52 Smerch programs. Past the Belarusian Military ten extra Polonez launchers had been delivered to Azerbaijan to fulfil a June 2018 contract, for a complete manufacturing run of simply 16 launchers. Belarus’ very small defence funds of solely round $800 million, the majority of which was dedicated to operational bills reasonably than acquisitions, was thus a key shortcoming of the Polonez program. The batteries in service have served as an emblem of the potential of Belarus’ defence sector, regardless of their most potent characteristic their artillery rockets being Chinese language in origin, and have performed necessary roles at testing ranges in addition to in Belarusian navy parades.
The chance stays that the Polonez might see additional orders both from Belarus or from Russia itself, with the Russian Military missing entry to longer ranged rocket artillery resulting in widespread hypothesis that it might in any other case flip to North Korean programs, with the rival KN-25 having a 400km vary. The significance of lengthy vary rocket artillery capabilities has develop into more and more obvious as artillery has come to play a central position within the Russian-Ukrainian Warfare, though a key drawback of the Polonez for Russia is that it’s unlikely to be acquired in ample numbers and shortly sufficient because of the small scale of manufacturing. Belarusian manufacturing of the system’s rockets, nevertheless, might probably be key to permitting it to be offered regardless of China’s commitments to not arm both Russia or Ukraine through the battle. The Belarusian Military might nicely itself additionally resume orders for the Polonez, after having proven a renewed curiosity in strike capabilities with the acquisition of Russian Iskander-M ballistic missile programs and home growth with Russia of a Belarusian Iskander spinoff.