Less expensive weapons could serve foreign buyers

Updated: 2015-09-21 07:13

By Zhao Lei(China Daily)

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Many observers consider the AR series of long-range rocket launchers, developed by China North Industries Group, to be the most attractive to foreign buyers. A number of African nations have already bought dozens of AR-2 units, according to reports.

Military-today, a weapons database in the United States, said the latest variant, the AR-3, is probably the most powerful artillery rocket system in the world.

The launcher is capable of firing 300-mm-caliber conventional rockets, which have a maximum range of 130 km, and guided rockets, as well as 370-mm-caliber guided rockets, which can hit targets 220 km from the launch site.

By comparison, Russia's BM-30 Smerch has a maximum range of 90 km, while the US M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System has a top range of about 70 km. Conventional artillery cannons have a top range of about 40 km.

Some of the newer rockets developed for the AR-3 can reach 280 km and have an accuracy rate comparable with short-range ballistic missiles, industry observers said.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp is currently promoting the WS-64, its newest multiple rocket launcher system, which the company promotes as the world's first precision-guided, anti-ship artillery rocket.

"The WS-64 will be particularly attractive to those who want a powerful and cost-effective anti-ship weapon. Several units of these weapons can form a coastal defense good enough to deter enemy ships from approaching offshore," Gao said.

The manufacturers have deliberately rebuffed inquiries about the weapon's destructive power, but the commander of an artillery rocket battalion from the PLA ground force said each volley fired by his unit's 300-mm multiple rocket launcher can destroy an area the size of more than 80 soccer fields.

"The power of each of my rocket launchers is equal to that of a whole battalion equipped with traditional artillery weapons. To be specific, each rocket can cover and destroy an area equivalent to seven soccer fields, while each volley can fire 12 rockets in just a few minutes," Major Wang Peicheng, political supervisor at one of the long-range rocket artillery battalions under the PLA Jinan Military Command, said during a battalion "open house" event for domestic journalists in August.

"It's fair to say that our artillery rockets are the best in the world in terms of power, range and precision levels," he said.

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