Artillery: Good Enough For Foreigners


February 2, 2011: China has found a second export customer for its WS-1 302mm rocket system. Thailand has recently put some WS-1 systems into service. The first WS-1 customer, Turkey, manufactures the system under license as the T-300. A WS-1 battalion has 6-9 launcher trucks (with four rockets each and a crew of three). There are several types of warheads available, including high explosive, cluster bomb, with 475 anti-personnel bomblets (each with 500 metal fragments), incendiary and FAE (Fuel Air Explosive). Each rocket weighs 752 kg (1655 pounds) with a 150 kg (330 pound) warhead. Range is 100 or 180 kilometers (WS-1B). The Chinese Army has not yet purchased the WS-1.

Instead, the Chinese Army has bought the larger WS-2. This system consists of an 8x8 truck mounting six canisters, each holding a 1.3 ton, 406mm WS-2 rocket. The WS-2 has a max range of 200 kilometers. Warheads can be as large as 200 kilograms (440 pounds), for the 70 kilometers range version. At 200 kilometers range, the warhead is about half that size. The warheads use cluster bomb munitions. The WS-3 version has GPS guidance, a smaller warhead and a longer range (over 300 kilometers). While the original WS-2 rocket was unguided, and could land within 600 meters of the aiming point at maximum range, the WS-3, using GPS or inertial navigation, as well as terminal homing guidance, can take out very small targets. The WS-2 is similar to the U.S. 610mm, 1.8 ton ATACMS rocket, which has GPS guidance and a range of 300 kilometers. Each ATACMS rocket costs about a million dollars. The WS-2 rocket probably goes for less than $100,000 each, although the WS-3 probably costs several times that.



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