China can now offer foreign users of its Cai Hong (Rainbow) family of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) its AR-2 short-range semi-active laser (SAL) air-to-surface missile for use in anti-terrorism operations and low-intensity conflicts, the state-owned China Daily newspaper reported on 3 February.
The China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), one of eight research and development complexes of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), was quoted by the paper as saying that it recently conducted live-fire tests of the AR-2 in northwestern China.
A CASC Cai Hong-4 (CH-4) UCAV was reportedly used for the tests, although the missile can also be mounted on other Cai Hong UCAVs, unnamed officials told the paper.
The AR-2 can also be carried by other unmanned combat aircraft and Chinese attack helicopters after minor technical modifications, they added.
Weighing about 20 kg and carrying a 5 kg warhead, the AR-2 has a maximum range of 8 km and a top speed of 735 km/h, the missile's designers told China Daily.
The AR-2 is reportedly effective against personnel, armoured cars, houses, and bunkers, the paper added.
In early November CASC used the Airshow China 2016 exhibition to display a heavily armed prototype of its CH-5 strike-capable UAV for the first time since its maiden flight in August 2015.
Jane's reported at the time that the CH-5 displayed at the exhibition featured a quad-pack of 20 kg-class AR-2 SAL guided anti-armour missiles on the inboard pylon, and two pairs of 45 kg-class AR-1 SAL anti-armour missiles mounted on the centreboard and outboard pylons for a total of eight weapons on each wing.
Jane's understands from CASC that the AR-2 missile is essentially a lighter and less capable variant of the AR-1, but it is more cost effective and can, therefore, be expended more readily, saving the heavier missile for higher value targets.
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