The Weishi, 卫士, literally "Guardian", (WS) family of the multiple launch rocket systems were mainly developed by Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corporation (SCAIC, also known as Base 062) in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. The Weishi series rocket systems include the 302mm WS-1 (100 km range), the improved 302mm WS-1B (180 km range), the 122mm WS-1E (40 km), the 400mm WS-2 (200 km range), as well as many other models. The WS-1 series weapon system did not enter PLA service and has order from Thailand. The WS-2 may finally see PLA service in the future. It's worth noticing that although sharing the same name, there are other developers for different models of Weishi series multiple rocket launchers (MRL) other than the primary developer SCAIC.
SCAIC began to develop an unguided large-calibre multiple launch rocket system for the PLA ground forces in the late 1980s. The resulting Weishi-1 (WS-1) 302mm, 4-tube multiple rocket system was first tested in 1990. However, the weapon system failed to impress the PLA, and no production order was received. The ground equipment of the WS-1 comprises: a rocket launch truck, a transport and loading truck and a firing command truck. A WS-1 rocket battalion is equipped with:
- DZ-88B firing command truck (4 men): 1;
- MF-4 rocket launch truck (3 men): 6~9;
- QY-88 transport and loading truck (3 men): 6~9;
- High-altitude meteorological radar (3 men): 1;
- Rockets per launch truck: 40~60 ;
SCAIC continued the WS-1 development in the 1990s and introduced the improved WS-1B in the late 1990s. The WS-1B mainly targeted foreign customers and was actively marketed by Beijing-based China National Precision Machinery Corporation (CPMIEC). Compared to the WS-1, the WS-1B features an increased range of 180 km. A WS-1B rocket battalion is equipped with:
- DZ-4B firing command truck (5 men): 1;
- HF-4B rocket launch truck (3 men): 6~9;
- QY-4B transport and loading truck (3 men): 6~9;
- Type 702 high-altitude meteorological radar (3 men): 1;
- Rockets per launch truck: 40~60;
The WS-1E is the 122mm multiple rocket system developed by SCAIC as a successor to the PLA’s current Type 81 122mm rocket system. It is similar to the Type 90 122mm rocket system and did not enter production. A WS-1E rocket battalion is equipped with:
- DZ-88B firing command truck (5 men): 1;
- MF-40 rocket launch truck (3 men): 6;
- Rockets per launch truck: 120~160;
During the 2004 Zhuhai Air Show, SCAIC revealed its latest WS-2 multiple launch rocket system. The weapon is fitted with 6 box-shape launchers and fires 400mm rockets to a maximum range of 200 km, however some sources claim that it might be up to 350 km. This enables the PLA to strike the west coast of Taiwan, including the capital Taipei. It is speculated that WS-2 is going to be a cheaper alternative to the expensive short range ballistic missiles in Chinese inventory. The WS-2 is fitted with a primitive cascade inertial terminal guidance to compensate for the degraded accuracy caused by the long distance flight of the rocket. In 2008, it was revealed that sub-munitions are developed for WS-2, including a specialized anti-radar version, which is a rocket containing three UAVs. Once the rocket is fired to the target area, the UAVs are released the same way like other sub-munitions. The seekers would seek out target radar signals as UAVs began to cruise, and once locked on to the radar, UAV would home in and attack. Some domestic Chinese military enthusiasts have claimed such technology was based on the principle of Israeli Harpy anti-radar UAVs, but this could not be confirmed by independent sources outside China.
A WS-1E and WS-2 rocket battalion shared the same equipment and is armed with:
- Firing command truck (5 men): 1;
- Rocket launch truck (3 men): 6;
- Transport and loading truck (3 men): 6~9;
- Rockets per launch truck: 30~48;
- Preparation time (from traveling to firing) < 12 minutes
- Firing density: better than 1/600 m
- Accuracy: better than 0.3%
Upgraded version with 200 km range.
Upgraded version with GPS guidance and 350 km range.
Upgraded version with GPS guidance and 400 km range and ability to launch lethal unmanned aerial vehicles.
Built by a competing factory, the WS-3 has primitive cascade inertial terminal guidance and has a range of 300 km.
Upgraded version of WS-3 with primitive cascade inertial terminal guidance updated by civilian GPS/GLONASS, but can be upgrade to military GPS/GLONASS upon customer's request.
Lighter version of unguided 122 mm PR50 MLS, with number of tubes reduced by 60% to 40 from the original 100 of PR50 MLS. This is a more compact version of PR50 with reduction of weight for rapid deployment.
WS-15 MRL is a shorter range version with 40 km range, equipped with primitive cascade inertial terminal guidance.
400 mm MRL of 150 km range with civilian GPS/GLONASS satellite guidance update, but can be upgrade to military GPS/GLONASS upon customer's request.
400 mm MRL of 70 km range with civilian GPS/GLONASS satellite guidance update, but can be upgrade to military GPS/GLONASS upon customer's request.
Development of WS-1 series of 150 km range with civilian GPS/GLONASS satellite guidance update, but can be upgrade to military GPS/GLONASS upon customer's request.
Development of WS-1 series with primitive cascade inertial terminal guidance. Using standard munitions, the range is 40 – 80 km, and when using extended range rounds, the range is increased to 60 – 120 km. The 10-tube launchers contained 2 5-round launching boxes arranged in 2 rows, 2 on top, and 3 at the bottom.
Development of A100 with primitive cascade inertial terminal guidance updated by GPS. The arrangement of A200 is different than A100 in that each launching box consists of three rows of launching tubes, three on the top and bottom respectively, and two in the middle. A200 rockets also have additional forward control surfaces that were not present on A100 rockets.
SR-5 MRL is a self-propelled MLS which first made its public debut in 2012 Eurosatory. SR-5 is a fully computerized and digitized system with modular design concept to enable both the 122 mm rocket series and 300 mm rocket series to be adopted on a single chassis, using the same fire control and support systems, hence greatly reduces the operational cost.
SY300 is a development of WS-2/3, with SY standing for Shen Ying (神鹰 meaning Deity Eagle), designed after the 4th Academy and the 9th Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) were merged to form a new 4th Academy. The main difference between the SY300 and its WS-2/3 predecessor is that for WS-2/3, the control section of the forward control surfaces and the warhead are integrated into a single unit, but they are separated in SY300. This design difference enables the guidance system of SY300 to be rapidly changed in the field by soldiers, by simply replacing a the guidance system with a dummy weight, when SY300 needs to be used as an unguided rocket. Each vehicle can carry either six or twelve SY300 rockets.
SY400 is a further development of SY300, with a typical range of 400 km. As a low cost alternative to ballistic missiles, the accuracy of SY400 is increased by adding GPS to correct the cascade inertial navigational guidance, and according to the developer, the accuracy can be further improved if military grade GPS signals are used to replacing the existing civilian GPS signal. Another feature of SY400 is that it shares the same launching vehicle and fire control system of BP-12A ballistic missile, thus simplifying logistics.
The free rocket used by the WS-1 and WS-1B consists of the warhead and fuse, an FG-42/43 rocket motor and the tail section. The FG-42/43 rocket motor is a single chamber, solid rocket motor with an advanced hydroxy-terminated polybutadine (HTPB) composition rocket propellant. The rocket of the WS-2 system features four control surfaces in the middle section of the rocket for terminal guidance.
The rocket can be fitted with various types of warheads including anti-armour/personnel submunition, blasting, fuel air explosive (FAE), and high-explosive (HE). The ZDB-2 blasting warhead is loaded with steel balls and prefabricated fragments. The SZB-1 submunition warhead is designed to destroy large area targets such as armour formation and infantry troops. When the SZB-1 submunition warhead detonates, around 500 bullets are expelled under high pressure.
The launch truck is available in a number of variants. The MF-4 launch truck is based on a Chinese indigenous 6X6 truck chassis. The HF-4 launch truck is based on the more capable Tiema XC2200 6X6 truck. The WS-2 uses a heavier 8X8 Taian TAS-5380 truck chassis. The launch tubes have an elevation range of 0° to 60° and azimuth range of -30° to +30°. The truck is equipped with four hydraulically operated stabilisers which are lowered in preparation for the rocket launch.
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- A100 MRL
- A200 MRL
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