The Russians have done a good job reminding everyone (or at least, everyone watching/paying attention/sending observers like good military intelligence types) that rocket artillery is awesome, and those “icky” cluster warheads are super effective. Even if the hippies hate them.
But of course, if you are worried about the Russians, say, or anyone else, you might want some rocket artillery of your own. And you might want to buy from the Russians, but they might be whom you are worried about, and supplies might be problematic in the event of war. And BM-30 is dreadfully expensive. You might try buying American, but they only make HIMARS these days, which is half an M270. More problematically, they won’t sell DPICM cluster munitions to any new customers, and it’s questionable if they’ll keep selling the stuff to old customers. You could buy guided rockets with unitary warheads, but they are dreadfully expensive. And then you’d want small caliber rockets like the old BM-13, so you could get more than six on a truck.
Ugh. Terrible options. Fortunately, artillery rockets aren’t all that sophisticated weapons, so we could source them elsewhere. Throw in a bit of licensed production and we’d be all set. There are several countries that make their own rocket artillery setups, but today we’re going to go to China.
Ordinarily, we might be a little wary of dealing with China in such matters, but since we’re buying, it’s not like they’ll be able to copy our stuff. Plus, they might be very threatening to Japan and South Korea, but there’s a convenient Russia between us and them. Quite the buffer. Let us see what they have, shall we?
Enter the WS-2. The largest multiple rocket artillery system in the world. It might even be classified as a short range ballistic missile. But shut up, you can get a truck-launcher that holds six missiles, so it’s totally an MRL. They’re just really, really big rockets. They’re 40 cm in diameter and 7.3 meters long. The standard version has an inertial guidance system and a range of 200 km, and a version with GPS/inertial guidance and 350 km range is also available. Perfect for bombarding Taiwan from across the Strait of Formosa. Or pounding enemy concentrations.
What warhead types are available on these monsters? It carries a 200 kg payload, which is quite a lot of high explosive. And HE/Frag and HE/Frag/incendiary unitary warheads are available. But CEP is 600 meters, and that’s not very good unless you’re trying to level Taipei. Or Grozny. So let’s talk things that will make hippies cry.
Warhead option one is the small bomblets. Sino-DPICM, if you will, though these are a bit larger. Each bomblet is a HEAT/Frag munition, rated to penetrate 85mm of RHA steel armor and having a lethal frag radius of seven meters. 540 bomblets are carried in each rocket.
Option two is the bigger, anti-armor bomblets. They still have a fragmentation shell, but add an incendiary component good for a four meter radius. The shaped charge is much bigger, being rated for 180mm of RHA steel armor. I’m not sure if these are guided or not, but it’s easy enough to modify these to work like SADARM/Bofors Bonus/etc. 61 are carried per rocket.
Option three is a unitary thermobaric warhead. It’s good for 29 psi of overpressure at a distance of 25 m from the warhead detonation.
So it’s a big, cool system. Note the obvious shortcoming of a rather large minimum range of 70 km. Also, there are no mine dispensing rockets as of yet, but I’m sure we can work something out. Probably oughtn’t be the only rocket artillery, but it’s a nice oversized, long-range shotgun for the battlefield commander all the same. We’ll probably mount the launcher on a truck chassis that’s already in our inventory rather than add a new one for this.