Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pakistan Army Upgrades Its Field Artillery Prowess

By Prasun K. Sengupta

During the just concluded visit to China of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Islamabad and Beijing inked a contract under which the Pakistan Army will procure an initial 36 A-100E 300mm multi-barrel rocket launchers and two SLC-2 active phased-array weapons locating radars. This follows the round of competitive evaluations conducted by the Pakistan Army of the A-100E and the competing AR-2, another 300mm MBRL also of Chinese origin. Also expected to be procured in future from China are approximately 90 SH-1 155mm/52-calibre motorised howitzers. The A-100E, developed by China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp (CPMIEC), comprises a 300mm 10-tube launch vehicle, reloading vehicle and command-and-control vehicles, all of which are mounted on the WS-2400 8 x 8 wheeled chassis. All 10 rockets can be fired within 60 seconds, and it can be reloaded in 20 minutes. The NORINCO-built AR-2 MBRL, on the other hand, has 12 launch tubes from which rockets armed with a wide variety of warheads are fired. The warhead options include fragmentation sub-munitions warhead, anti-tank mine scattering warhead, shaped-charge fragmentation submunitions warhead, separable HE-fragmentation warhead, fuel-air explosive warhead, and HE-fragmentation warhead.
The NORINCO-built SH-1 motorised 155mm/52-calibre howitzer underwent extensive mobility and firepower trials last December in Pakistan’s Northern Areas, and underwent similar field trials last June in the Thar Desert. The SH-1 can fire rocket-assisted V-LAP projectiles out to 53km, as well as laser-guided projectiles like NORINCO’s ‘Red Mud’ and KBP Instrument Design Bureau’s Krasnopol-M2. The SH-1 can also fire base-bleed 155mm rounds out to 42.5km, and its truck chassis houses a fibre-optic gyro-based north positioning-cum-navigation system, battlespace management system, autonomous orientation-cum-muzzle velocity radar, gun loader’s display-cum-ramming control box, ammunition box housing 25 rounds (of seven different types) and their modular charges, and a network-centric artillery fire direction system. A complete SH-1 Regiment comprises 24 SH-1s, four Battery Command Post vehicles, one Battalion Command Post vehicle, one road-mobile CETC-built JY-30 C-band meteorological radar, four 6 x 6 wheeled reconnaissance vehicles, and an S-band CETC-built SLC-2 artillery locating-cum-fire correction radar.
Last year on September 9, the Pakistan Army accepted at its Nowshera-based School of Artillery the first of twelve 18-tonne T-155 Panter 155mm/52-calibrre towed howitzers from Turkey’s state-owned Machines and Chemical Industry Board (MKEK). The Panter was co-developed in the late 1990s by MKEK and Singapore Technologies Kinetics. For producing the 155mm family of munitions, Wah Cantonment-based Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) has teamed up with South Korea’s Poongsan and on April 12 this year, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani symbolically received the first lot of licence-assembled K-307 BB-HE and K-310 155mm BB dual purpose improvised conventional munitions (DPICM) Ammunition from POF Chairman Pakistan Lt Gen Syed Sabahat Hussain.

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