Author: Martin Su
Date: 04-13-12 10:45
"China's Military Technology Is Advancing So Fast They've Perfected This Lethal 'Smart' Ammunition
Eloise Lee | April 12, 2012
The Terminal Sensing Ammunition (TSA) ejects mini parachutes as it flies over a target zone searching for its mark. (Credit: China Defense Mashup)
China is claiming a "breakthrough" at its Baicheng Weapon Test Center where it develops "Terminal Sensing Ammunition".
This ordnance is especially deadly to troops in tanks or armored personnel carriers, where it times its detonation to go off just outside the hatch for maximum effect.
This kind of weapon is not new to the West, but its development in China says nothing more than the PLA is catching up. Fast.
The PLA Daily, the government-endorsed publication of the People's Liberation Army, reported significant progress in its technology that "senses" a target and deploys a destructive projectile to break through armor, immediately followed by a cluster of sub-projectiles to wipe out whatever the armor was protecting.
J. Michael Cole at the Taipei Times says China's weapon "could prove especially threatening" to Taiwan's military defenses, with the technology capable of making hits as precise as the rooftops of moving armored vehicles.
The two countries have a tense relationship spawned by the mainland's desire for re-unification, in which the modern island of Taiwan has no interest. The U.S. is concerned China will make good on its threat to attack Taiwan if necessary, amid ongoing espionage within the two countries' respective militaries.
Here's how the ammunition works:
The PLA says the weapon has the structure of "cluster sub-munition" which is loaded with smaller projectiles to "deliver strong lethal power" once the target is identified — a double hit designed to eliminate any chance of survival.
The specific aim of the terminal sensing ammunition (TSA) is to "attack the 'head bones'" of a tank, meaning the roof. The first hit of the weapon penetrates the roof, while the simultaneous release of sub-projectiles will effectively wipe out whoever or whatever is inside.
After a demonstration to invited reporters, the PLA worker in charge confirmed that the weapon would produce "a massive amount of fragments to kill personnel and destroy equipment so as to achieve excellent combat performance."
A press release by the Ministry of National Defense indicates local media saw a test launch of China's new smart ammunition technology, which can be fired from cannons or attached to long-range missiles or airborne weapon systems.
The enthusiastic report, translated by the Ministry into English, describes the launch:
The terminal sensing projectile whizzed out in a big bang at the commander's command and flew over the target site when it discharged the terminal sensing sub-projectiles one by one, which ejected mini-parachutes immediately and searched for targets automatically. Each of them hit the target in precision.
The writers of the release say "it is no longer a dream for artillery soldiers to equip the projectile with eyes" —pointing out the ability of the weapon to "eye" its targets and, at the same time, sending a very clear message to the rest of the world that China's military is rapidly waking up to 21st Century capabilities."
"Developed and produced by Textron Defense Systems, the CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon is a United States Air Force 1,000-pound-class (450 kg) non-guided (freefall) cluster bomb, hence the name CBU (Cluster Bomb Unit).
The CBU-97 consists of an SUU-66/B tactical munition dispenser that contains 10 BLU-108 submunitions. Each submunition contains four hockey-puck-shaped sensor-fused projectiles called Skeets. These detect targets, such as tanks, armored personnel carriers, trucks and other support vehicles, and fire an explosively formed penetrator."