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China displays new generation of smart munitions

By ANDREI CHANG and JOHN WU

HONG KONG, May 15 (UPI) -- At the most recent Zhuhai Air Show, China put on open display its FT-5 Global Positioning System-guided bomb. The FT-1 and FT-3 500/250-kilogram-class, or 1,100/550-pound-class, GPS-guided bombs were on display at the previous show in 2006. China also showed off its 500-kilogram-class FT-2 with gliding fins added. The FT-2 has an effective range of 15 to 90 kilometers, a circular error probability of 20 meters and an air-dropping altitude of 3,000 to 12,000 meters -- around 10,000 feet to almost 40,000 feet.

The FT-5 small-diameter bomb copies the latest design of the U.S. military. A designer of the system said that the FT-5's warhead has a weight of 35 kilograms, or 77 pounds, and a circular error probability of 15 meters, less than 50 feet. It was developed mainly for unmanned aerial vehicles. The effective range of the FT-5 is 2 to 5 kilometers -- 1.2 to 3.1 miles -- when launched from a UAV and 3 to 35 kilometers when launched from a J-10A fighter.

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China has also developed the LT-3 GPS-plus terminal laser-guided air-to-ground missile for the J-10A, which is very similar in structure to the U.S. Army's JDAM-plus laser-guided bomb.

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These imitations provide evidence that the Chinese military has been tracking U.S. technology, viewing the United States as both a presumed enemy and a competitor in the arms-export market. Of course, China's imitations are not limited to U.S. military equipment, but it is certainly learning from U.S. technology as well as military combat doctrines.

China is now paying close attention to the development of anti-GPS-jamming multiple-guidance weapons. Its Sekong Co. has developed a 570-kilogram-class -- 1,256-pound -- guided bomb based on the Russian Krasnopole laser-guided projectile's seeker technology. China plans to promote this guided bomb along with the J-10A. A designer said that this bomb has a circular error probability of 3.1 meters and an air-release altitude of 500 to 10,000 meters -- more than 1,600 feet to almost 33,000 feet.

It is not clear whether the LT-3 has ever been test-fired, as China did not show video footage of this guided bomb under test.

As for anti-ship weapons, Chinese promoters of the J-10A said that the fighter can carry 75-kilometer-range, or 47-mile-range, new-generation C-705 anti-ship missiles or C-802A anti-ship missiles with a range close to 250 kilometers, or 155 miles. The C-705 was also on exhibit for the first time. The C-705 is a modified version of the C-704 with a turbojet engine and two flight fins. The weight of its warhead is 110 kilograms, or 243 pounds, and it has a minimum flight altitude of 12 meters -- close to 40 feet.

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The J-10A fighter has 11 hard points, two of which are of compound structure.

The People's Liberation Army Navy seems to be assessing the possibility of acquiring J-10As for its combat ships. A Chinese source said that the navy liked its price and its aerial refueling capability. This source also disclosed that the J-10A's combat radius is 800 kilometers, or almost 500 miles. In this regard, the technological standard of the materials used on the J-10A can be judged far inferior to those of the same-generation fighters of the United States and Europe.

The J-10A is already fitted with an arresting hook imported from Russia for shipboard landing drills. However, the same source said no decision had as yet been made as to whether the PLA Navy will employ the J-10A as a ship-borne combat aircraft.

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(Andrei Chang is editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto.)

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