China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) showcased a new indigenously developed shipboard counter-measures system for defeating hostile frogman activities at Airshow China 2014, which is being held in Zhuhai 11-16 November.
Designated the CS/AR-1 55 mm anti-frogman rocket launcher, the weapon is intended for deployment on board all classes of naval platform to complement other ship self-defence systems. According to Norinco, a complete CS/AR-1 system comprises a 10-tube rocket launcher and a launch control device.
Exact specifications of the CS/AR-1 system were not disclosed, but the launcher pedestal and launch module occupies a small footprint, measuring approximately 1 m wide and 1.6 m tall and is capable of traversing 360° in the azimuth and elevating within an approximate range of -30° to 70°. However, Norinco did state that the system is modular, which enables operators to assemble and disassemble its components quickly for maintenance or replacement.
The company also said the launcher system features a digital control interface and processing techniques, which enhance accuracy and engagement speeds. It is also equipped with a self-diagnostic system for ease of maintenance. However, it is not known if the system can be integrated to onboard sensor and combat management systems (CMS).
A Norinco spokesperson told IHS Jane's that the CS/AR-1 system launches unguided 55 mm calibre high explosive (HE) rockets out to a maximum range of approximately 500 m, with the munitions causing high pressure underwater shockwaves that could kill or inflict severe injuries to frogmen operating at close proximity to the detonations. Effects farther away from underwater explosions are reduced significantly because of the water's density - which is many times greater than air - although frogmen could still suffer concussion and other discomfort.
IHS Jane's understands that blast effects vary greatly depending on the depth and water conditions, although such systems generally tend to be more effective in littoral waters closer to shore where the operating environment for frogmen is significantly constrained.
The Norinco spokesperson declined to disclose the development history of the system, although he did reveal that the company had finalised the design "within the past few years" and completed the launcher "more recently". It is also not known if the company intends to export the system, or if it had already been acquired by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
The anti-frogman device shown by Norinco at Airshow China 2014 bears a remarkable similarity to the DP-65 anti-diver grenade launcher designed and sold by Russia's V.A. Degtyarev Plant,
writes James Hardy .
Like the Norinco system, the DP-65 has 10 barrels and fires a 55 mm high explosive rocket to a maximum range of about 500 m, according to information on the manufacturer's website. It is also designed to protect ships and coastal installations "against attacks of underwater combat swimmers".
A DP-65 was seen on the PLAN's installation on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands in 2012. It is conceivable that the Norinco version will be installed on other Chinese-occupied territories in the South China Sea as Beijing expands its territorial footprint through a process of land reclamation that has been under way over the past 12-18 months.