Artillery: September 25, 2000


China's new A100 rocket system appears to be a near copy of the Russian BM9A52 Smerch system. Both use 300mm rockets, although Smerch uses 12 rockets in two layers of 12 while the Chinese A100 uses only 10 rockets with six tubes on the lower row and four tubes on the upper row. The rocket tubes are mounted on a WS2400 8x8 heavy truck; the same truck is used for the command post vehicle and the reloading vehicle. All ten rockets can be fired in 60 seconds; reloading takes about 20 minutes. It is thought that the reload vehicle has twenty rockets on board. When ready to fire, hydraulic jacks are lowered by the launching vehicle to stabilize it on the ground. The WS2400 truck uses power steering and a central tire pressure system. Each rocket is 7.276m long and weighs 780kg. The rockets have a minimum range of 50km and a maximum range of 100km. While the rockets are unguided, the launch truck is fitted with GPS and inertial navigation systems, and the Chinese insist that this provides high accuracy. Each rocket has a 200kg load of submunitions; both anti-armor and anti-personnel bomblets are known to exist. A new family of unguided rockets is in development for the A100, and these will have a minimum range of 70km and a maximum range of 180km. China has hinted that a guided rocket is being developed for the 300mm launch tube. The prime contractor for the A100 is the China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation.--Stephen V Cole


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