Less expensive weapons could serve foreign buyers

Updated: 2015-09-21 07:13

By Zhao Lei(China Daily)

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Less expensive weapons could serve foreign buyers

An AR-3 long-range rocket launcher fires during a promotional event at China North Industries Group's test base in northwest China on Aug 8. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Ballistic, cruise missile sales banned; rocket launchers meet market needs

Foreign arms purchasers can forget about getting their hands on Chinese-made ballistic and cruise missiles, such as those displayed in the Sept 3 Victory parade, because although they are extremely powerful and of great military use, a host of statutory obstacles prevent overseas sales, according to a military expert.

Potential buyers need not feel frustrated, though, because business-savvy Chinese arms manufacturers have prepared a number of alternatives-multiple rocket launchers that are equally formidable and more affordable.

"Chinese State-owned businesses in the defense technology sector are offering potential purchasers a wide range of multiple rocket launchers. Their products can provide all the surface-to-surface strike requirements of foreign purchasers," said Gao Zhuo, a defense columnist in Shanghai.

"Multiple rocket launchers are especially suitable for nations that don't have a large defense budget, but aspire to affordable deterrence weapons because they are cheaper than ballistic missiles, yet still have immense destructive capabilities, long ranges and constantly improved levels of accuracy," Gao said.

On Sept 3, China displayed seven types of ballistic and cruise missiles in the parade at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, including the CJ-10A cruise missile, the DF-15B short-range ballistic missile and DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missile.

However, virtually none of them can be sold to foreign countries because of the restrictions stated in the Regulations on Export Control of Missiles and Missile-related Items and Technologies, which was enacted in 2002.

The regulations specify that the export of "ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles, sounding rockets, cruise missiles and unmanned air vehicles that can be used to deliver at least a 500-kg payload at a range of at least 300 km" must be strictly controlled by the government to prevent proliferation of missile technology.

Like many foreign militaries, the People's Liberation Army has also been seeking low-cost, powerful surface-to-surface strike weapons since the early 2000s, when China began overhauling its arsenal.

'The world's best'

Motivated by the lucrative opportunities on offer, major weapon suppliers such as China North Industries Group and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp have continued to develop and upgrade multiple rocket launchers and demonstrate them at almost every defense show featuring Chinese defense contractors.

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