In summer 1959, Soviet military scientists began to develop the TEMP, the first guided solid-fuel operational-tactical missile in the USSR, with the operational range 600 km.
Initially, the missile was planned to be launched from the launch pad installed on the MAZ-535V semitrailer.
However, technical functionality of this system was insufficient to satisfy the military. Finally, the completely new vehicle, MAZ-543, was designed to carry the missile launcher, and this vehicle, in various modifications, is still in batch production!
The trial version of MAZ-543 was designed in 1961. The basic chassis was provided with the D12A-525A diesel motor, 525 hp, and with the automatic transmission providing a four-speed gearbox (three forward speeds and one backward speed), axle configuration 8x8, load capacity, 19 tons, total weight, 39, turning radius, 13.5 m, road clearance, 440 mm. The vehicle’s climbing angle was 30°; the fordable depth was 1.1 m. The maximum driving speed was 60 km/hour; the vehicle had four driving axles with single wheels provided with wide cross-section tires and all-terrain treads.
The vehicle was provided with the centralised tire inflation pressure control system and the independent torsion-bar suspension with steerable first-axle and second-axle wheels. The analysts in the Ministry of Defense expected that this design will be a complement to crawler vehicles then in service. However, the subsequent tests demonstrated that the wheeled vehicle is much more cost-effective, durable and easier in operation than crawler vehicles, resulting in its exceptional popularity throughout the world.
Due to such good results demonstrated by SKB-1, more manufacturing facilities have been assigned to it, and it was reorganised as the Special-purpose Wheel Tractor Production (PSKT). MAZ-543 gave rise to the series of vehicles not only usable for transportation but being themselves the combat units provided with all items necessary for fire tasks.
More than 60 combat structures (weapons or special-purpose equipment) were installed on MAZ-543, MAZ-543А and MAZ-543М chassis. Among them there are such famous weapons as Scud tactical missiles, S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, Smerch (“Whirlwind”) multiple rocket launcher, Bereg (“Coast”) artillery system, Rubezh (“Frontier”) anti-ship missile system. However, due to the famous multiple rocket launcher systems installed on these vehicles, the name URAGAN (“Hurricane”) became commonly-used for them.