WASHINGTON — Russian 9M544 Smerch missiles use custom chips sold by AliExpress. The 9M544 Smerch is a 300mm rocket used by multiple launch rocket systems [MLRS] Tornado-S. This missile is designed to hit armored vehicles.
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A used 300mm 9M544 Smerch rocket was investigated by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies [C4ADS]. The team at this center works on discovered imported components used in Russian weapons. I.e. looking for signs of violation of sanctions against Russia. This thinks tank-type center is located in Washington DC, USA.
C4ADS found in the 9M544 Smerch rocket the following elements in the control unit of an already used rocket: microcontrollers in a TSOP66 package; SMD capacitors; SMA and DB15 connectors; microcontrollers in an LQF64 package. All these components are intended for use in civil and household appliances. They do not meet military standards. Russia can buy such components from AliExpress, bypassing Western sanctions.
US-made chips in the Kh-101 stealth missile
The use of non-Russian microcircuits and chips in the navigation units of Russian missiles is not new. In May, BulgarianMilitary.com wrote that 35 US-made chips were found in the Kh-101 stealth cruise missile. This discovery did not come from C4ADS, but from Ukrainian intelligence, which on the ground examined an already used missile.
The chips found in the Russian Kh-101 missile were manufactured by Texas Instruments, Atmel Corp. Rochester Electronics, Cypress Semiconductor, Maxim Integrated, XILINX, Infineon Technologies, Intel, Onsemi, and Micron Technology. A complete list of used American microchips has been sent to the Pentagon.
The same amount  of chips was found in the radar equipment of the Russian army 9S932-1 – command post. Russia has integrated similar radar equipment into two air defense systems and two types of helicopters. I.e. in just two weapons systems, Russia uses 70 US-made chips.
300mm 9M544 Smerch rocket
The 300mm 9M544 Smerch rocket has been in the US for analysis in recent weeks. At the end of June, BulgarianMilitary.com reported that Russia had started using it. At least two missiles were documented in use in the Donbas region.
The 9M544 missile is part of the 9M54 missile family. The 9M54 series missiles are satellite-guided warheads loaded with HE-Fragmentation charge. These missiles have similar characteristics or complementary characteristics. The 9M54 missiles weigh approximately 820 kg and their warhead alone weighs about 250 kg. The minimum range is 40 km and the maximum is 120 km, although the 9M544 missile tested in 2020 reached a range of 200 km.
These series of missiles are a surface-to-surface type. The missile is designed to destroy manpower, unarmored and lightly armored vehicles, destroy command posts, communication centers, and sites of the military-industrial structure.
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