Artillery: Dragon Pods

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March 12, 2020: The UAE (United Arab Emirates) recently revealed it had imported Chinese built 6x6 truck mounted SR5 MRLs (Multiple Rocket Launcher). It is unknown how many SR5s the UAE bought but it appears to be about a dozen. The SR5 can carry and fire two pods of twenty 122mm unguided or guided rockets with a range of 40 kilometers or six King Dragon 60 220mm unguided or guided rockets with a range of 70 kilometers. Guided versions use laser/INS/GPS (GPS and Beidu). The truck can also carry pods with a single 610mm King Dragon 300 guided rocket with a 300 kilometer range and INS/GPS guidance. Each pod can also carry a single C705 anti-ship cruise missile with a range of 170 kilometers and INS/GPS guidance. Using laser guidance the cruise missile can hit ships offshore.

For the smaller rockets, the unguided versions cost less than half what the guided versions do. The largest rockets/cruise missile cost about half a million dollars each. The unguided 122 mm rocket cost less than $200 each. Unguided rockets are still adequate if large area targets are being fired at. This would include military bases, urban areas or large troop formations deployed for combat. The cruise missiles are slower, but come in lower and are more likely to avoid anti-missile defenses. For laser-guided versions, there would have to be either troops on the ground or aircraft available using the laser designators, which usually have a range of 10-15 kilometers.

The SR-5 truck has a double cab and a crew of five. The truck carries a digital satellite navigation system and computerized fire control system for handling unguided or guided rockets. Rockets can be fired from a pod singly or in salvos. A member of the crew gets the target coordinates by radio, or an existing target location list, and enters the target destination for each guided rocket. The truck can halt and be ready to fire in five minutes and after that be ready to move again in one minute to avoid return fire. Resupply trucks carry four pods and the SR5 can replace an empty pod with a loaded one in about ten minutes. SR5 vehicles can operate in groups or individually.

SR5 entered service in 2013 and has already been exported to Algeria, Bahrain, Venezuela and Thailand. Other nations are apparently interested because the SR5 is inexpensive and uses tech known to be reliable because the similar American HIMARS vehicle has been in use for over a decade using guided 227mm rockets fired from pods. Several Middle Eastern nations are already using HIMARS.

 


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