The BM-21 (Russian: Боевая Mашина Полевой реактивной системы М-21 Boevaya mashina Polevoĭ ryeaktivnoĭ sistemy M-21; English: Combat Vehicle rocket system, Field M-21) was a Soviet multiple rocket launcher system designed in 1964. Developed from the same principle as the Katyusha, the BM-21 was used as a mobile, long range artillery weapon, as it could fire large, heavy and powerful 122mm rockets in rapid succession (120 per minute) at a range of up to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).
In Battlefield Vietnam, the BM-21 is issued to the North Vietnamese Army. It has space for two players: one driver and one gunner. Its main feature is its exceptionally effective armament, a multiple rocket launcher that the gunner uses. It can fire 10 rockets per reload, with a total of four reloads, at a rate of around 120 rockets per minute.
Each rocket is equivalent in power to a rocket from a LAW, RPG-2, or RPG-7, and can cause devastating damage against almost any target. However, the disadvantage of using the BM-21 is its extremely light armor, meaning it can be destroyed in one tank shell or rocket. Its rocket launcher also has a high recoil, throwing off the player's aim by at least 15° with each shot, making constant firing largely ineffective and inaccurate at long range. As well, the reload for its rockets is very slow, taking nearly ten seconds to be ready to fire again. However, when used by a skilled gunner, the rockets can be effective against helicopters.
— Battlelog description
In Battlefield 3, the BM-21 is used by PLR and RGF forces as seen in Single Player mode firing rockets at the aerial US forces. The player encounters, and destroys them at a firebase camp in the mission Thunder Run, as well as appearing in Rock And A Hard Place, while not being used as the Russians did not have time to prepare them to combat the attacking US forces.
The BM-23 is a vehicle featured in the Armored Kill expansion pack, available to the Russian Ground Forces (RGF) as their Mobile Artillery Vehicle. Its USMC counterpart is the M142. It is a single-operator vehicle, though it has two seats. The operator must switch between the driver and gunner positions, preventing use of the weapons while moving.
The BM-23 is slightly more nimble than its American equivalent, but has a large windscreen that exposes the driver to small arms fire.
Its main weapon system is a turret capable of swiveling 360° and firing six rockets in one salvo. The minimap can be expanded to show the impact areas, much like the behavior for the M224 Mortar after the matching patch. On level ground it has a minimum engagement distance of about 100 meters, and a maximum of about 650, with maximum engagement distance increased when positioned at an elevated angle on a sloped surface. The targeting reticle roughly corresponds to 50 meter increments, starting with 100m at the top and 400m at the bottom. Adjustments must be made when attacking other elevations, and when stationed on a slope. The BM-23, as with its counterpart, the M142, have a noticeable and distinguishable firing signature. Because of this, it is recommended for the operator to either constantly change firing locations or fire from a more secluded position or positions already secured by friendly forces.
For a more anti-infantry oriented role, the BM-23 operator can choose to equip themselves with the Air-Burst missile specialisation. The operator is only allowed to fire 2 rockets before reloading. It has a wider splash area damage and deals heavy damage to infantry but does not effect vehicles or aircraft (unless aircraft are physically struck directly by the missile before detonation), but its area of impact are not visible on the minimap.
For a more anti-ground vehicle oriented role, the operator may choose to equip themselves with the ATACMS guided missile specialisation for more accurate targeting and destruction of enemy vehicles. Its capability is further enhanced with Laser-Designation. Due to its nature of requiring a target lock and the ever-common presence of IR Smoke, the ATACMS guided missile specialisation is not highly recommended nor widely used by operators, as its firing signature can easily give away the operator's position, added with the fact that the operator must be within a certain range of the target for weapon lock to occur, unnecessarily putting the vehicle operator in danger and within effective engagement range of most enemy vehicles.
The Anti-Air Missile specialisation is an excellent secondary weapon choice, as the operator can turn the vehicle into a makeshift and sometimes, if the operator is willing, a dedicated mobile Surface-to-Air missile (SAM) platform. With the Anti-Air Missile specialisation equipped, the operator of the BM-23 can effectively deny large portions of airspace, harass passing enemy jets and effectively keep hostile helicopters at bay. Due to firing missiles only, the BM-23 is more easily concealed from the enemy and difficult to spot as it lacks a gun, unlike Mobile gun/missile platforms which essential give their positions away when firing. The makeshift and dedicated Anti-Air ability of the BM-23 is further enhanced in Hardcore game modes, as there is a lack of functional 3-D spotting, enabling operators to remain relatively safe from enemy aircraft retaliation if operating from a secluded position. Due to the fact the anti-air missile's firing signature is more quiet and produces almost no visible smoke trail or exhaust like its primary weapons, this further enhances its anti-air capability and concealment from enemy action.
Although not equipped with close-range weapons, the Proximity Defense specialization surrounds the vehicle with smoke that can kill infantry and destroy enemy equipment at close range. Otherwise, the operator is vulnerable even to small arms fire through the windshield. The player can turn the vehicle away from anticipated enemy routes, but there is a delay as the weapon system must be turned towards target.
The specializations available to mobile artillery vehicles focus mainly on alternate weapons and threat minimization:
- IR Smoke - 400 points
- Autoloader - 800 points
- Proximity Scan - 1600 points
- ATACMS Missile guided weapon for engaging other ground vehicles - 2500 points
- Maintenance - 3500 points
- Zoom Optics - 4500 points
- Thermal Camo - 5500 points
- TOW missile system for engaging targets by wire-guidance - 7000 points
- Proximity Defense for killing infantry at close range - 9000 points
- Air-Burst Missile for focus on infantry - Rocket Specialist assignment
- Anti-Air Missile for focus on air vehicles - Anti-air Support
- A variant of the vehicle named BM21 Cargo is present in the game files for Battlefield Vietnam, this is the Ural-375D that appears in Saigon - 1968.
- In Battlefield 3, if a Javelin missile hits the vehicle, it will always kill the driver, regardless of where it strikes.
- Console players have to use their "Pause" map in order to observe impact sites, compared to PC players simply having to expand their minimap without having to pause.
- Despite being modeled with 40 rocket tubes, the BM-21 can only fire 6 standard missiles or 2 airburst missiles.
- The description says, that BM-23 is based on a Soviet truck, however it is actually based on Polish Star 1466 truck.