Air Weapons: China Seeks Heavenly Guidance

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April 10, 2009: China has developed (with some Russian assistance) a family of satellite and laser guided weapons comparable to the U.S. JDAM (GPS guided) and Paveway (laser guided) weapons. China has been showing (at trade shows) this family of smart bombs. They look similar to the U.S. two decade old JDAM series. The Chinese smart bombs appear to be available for half ton bombs (the FT-1), and one version of the guidance kit has small wings, that enables the bomb to glide 15-20 kilometers to its target. There is also a quarter ton bomb (FT-3). These bombs apparently can be fitted with several types of satellite guidance (GPS, Russian GLONASS or the local Chinese system, in addition to the less accurate non-satellite inertial guidance system that JDAM also uses as a backup.) GPS guided bombs are not high tech anymore, although laser guided bombs are a little more tricky to design.

Then there is the  FT-5, which is a 220 pound bomb similar in design to the U.S. SDB (Small Diameter bomb). There is also the 99 pound AR-1, which is similar to the 107 pound U.S. Hellfire. China is developing Predator size UAVs that can carry the AR-1.

The Chinese smart bombs don't have the same high degree of manufacturing quality or overall effectiveness of their American counterparts. But the Chinese stuff works. There's nothing high-tech about JDAM, and the U.S. began using laser guided bombs four decades ago. The only area where the U.S. may still have an edge is in satellite navigation (GPS and other systems) jamming, and anti-jamming technology. That's assuming Chinese hackers haven't gone and spirited away that stuff already.

 


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