SOFEX 2018

Loitering with intent [SOFEX18D2]

09 May 2018

China’s Aerospace Long- March International (ALIT) is showcasing its WS-43 loitering munition. The weapon is part of the Weishi family of multiple-launch rocket systems, and is described as a “miniature cruise missile attack system”. A full-scale mock-up is on show as part of the ALIT display (Hall 3, Stand A303).

WS-43 comprises a munition with pop-out wings and a small engine that provides a 30-minute loitering endurance at a cruise speed of Mach 0.3. The weapon’s operational radius is between 20 and 60km (12.5 and 37 miles).

Weighing 220kg (485 lb) at launch, the missile is obliquely launched from a canister with a jettisonable booster rocket that is discarded after launch.

In concept and confi guration, the WS-43 resembles the MBDA Fire Shadow, although the UK-developed weapon off ered a much longer loiter time of up to six hours.

In operation the WS-43 uses inertial/global positioning navigation to transit to an area before entering a loitering pattern. A datalink allows targets to be specifi ed, or the weapon seeks out its own with a terminal guidance package. It can hit moving and time-sensitive targets, and is of particular value against hard-to-hit reverse-slope targets. The warhead is a 20kg (44 lb) blast fragmentation unit.

Designed for independent combat, a WS-43 rocket battalion comprises a single command and control vehicle, two for information-based combat and three trans-loading vehicles. Six launch units are backed up by 25 storage/transport/launch canisters, and a typical battery would have 96 live WS-43 rounds and four for training.

The WS-43 can be fi red from an innovative modular launcher that is accommodated in a standard cargo container, the launch units raising up to fi ring position. The container can also mount launchers for 122mm and 273mm multiple-launch artillery rockets.

(291 words)