Air Weapons: Turks Develop A Superior 70mm Missile


May 14, 2014: A Turkish firm recently delivered the first 2,000 of 10,000 Cirit 70mm laser guided missiles to the UAE (United Arab Emirates) for use on AH-64 helicopter gunships. These missiles cost $20,000 each. In addition to a lower price than most 70mm missiles (about $30,000 each) Cirit was designed as a guided missile, not a kit that converts unguided 70mm rockets to laser guided missiles. Cirit was also one of the first 70mm laser guided missiles that could hit a moving target.

The guided 70mm rocket is used against targets that doesn't require a larger (49 kg/108 pound), and more expensive (over $100,000), Hellfire missile but still needs the same targeting precision. In tests 70mm laser guided missiles regularly hit within a meter (a few feet) of the aiming point. The 70mm missile makes an excellent weapon for UAVs and helicopters, especially since you can carry more of them. The launcher for carrying these missiles is designed to replace the one for Hellfire but can carry four missiles instead of one. Helicopters can use the existing launchers (usually carrying seven or 19 unguided 70mm rockets) for the guided version.

Cirit is basically a 14 kg (31 pound) 70mm rocket with a laser seeker, a 3 kg (6.6 pound) warhead, and a range of eight kilometers when fired from the air. Laser designators on a helicopter, or with troops or on the ground, are pointed at the target and the laser seeker in the front of the 70mm missile homes in on the reflected laser light. An AH-64 could carry as many as 76 of these missiles and use them against, say, Iranian small armed boats (a weapon Iran plans to use in large numbers in any future war). The 70mm missile will not knock out a tank but will stop most other armored and unarmored vehicles.

The 2.75 inch (70mm) rockets were developed during World War II but was never widely used until the 1960s when it was discovered that the weapon worked very well when launched from multiple (7 or 19 tube) launchers mounted on helicopters. The 108-138m cm (42-55 inch) long rockets could be fired singly or in salvoes and gave helicopter pilots some airborne artillery for supporting troops on the ground. There are many variations in terms of warheads and rocket motors. Some versions can go over 10 kilometers.


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