SUDAN WATCH: Sudan gov't buys unknown number of WS-2 multi-launch rocket launchers from China

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sudan gov't buys unknown number of WS-2 multi-launch rocket launchers from China

This new escalation of the weapon systems available to the government raises grave concerns. Is it in preparation for an unacceptable ruling on Abyei which we expect towards the end of this month, or is it in preparation for an unfavorable decision regarding the future referendum of 2011, or is it out of concern for an escalation in Darfur and beyond with Chad? So, whichever way you look at it, it’s not good news.

Source: Sudan Radio Service, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 – full story:
Sudan Buys Rocket Launchers from China
(Asmara) – The Sudanese government has bought an unknown number of WS-2 multi-launch rocket launchers from China.

The deal raises concerns as to why the government is buying such sophisticated arms at this time.

Dr. Taysir Mohammed is the director of the Peace Building Center for the Horn of Africa.

Speaking to Sudan Radio Service by phone from Asmara, Eritrea on Wednesday, he describes the possible motivation for the government’s move.

[Taysir Mohammed]: “There are worries in the region about the political will of the National Congress Party to implement the CPA and to follow through with other peace agreements. I think many observers are worried about, not just the fragile conditions of the peace agreement throughout Sudan, but also a concern about the political will to implement them. This new escalation of the weapon systems available to the government raises grave concerns. Is it in preparation for an unacceptable ruling on Abyei which we expect towards the end of this month, or is it in preparation for an unfavorable decision regarding the future referendum of 2011, or is it out of concern for an escalation in Darfur and beyond with Chad? So, whichever way you look at it, it’s not good news.”

Dr. Taysir Mohammed went on to explain the Chinese intentions in Sudan.

[Dr. Taysir Mohammed]: “China is not only a member of the Security Council but has a Special Peace Envoy to Sudan. By selling arms, the Chinese are ruling themselves out of the peace process. They cannot be considered by any measure as honest brokers. They’ve blatantly taken the side of the government; they’ve blatantly taken the side of war. Therefore, this signals Chinese intentions towards our country. Another point to consider is the Chinese investment in oil plus the Chinese investment lately in agriculture. They’ve acquired large tracts of agricultural land in Sudan. They’re going to cultivate products which are going to be consumed by Chinese. So, they’re not contributing to the agricultural development strategies of our country. And I think the Chinese have not invested in Sudan, they’ve invested in the regime and therefore, it makes sense that they would sell sophisticated weaponry to the regime.”

Dr. Taysir Mohammed was speaking to Sudan Radio Service from Asmara, Eritrea.
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WS-2 multiple launch rocket system

WS-2 rocket launcher

Photo source: www.armyrecognition.com

WS2 multiple rocket launchers

Photo source: www.militaryphotos.net

During the 2004 Zhuhai Air Show, SCAIC revealed its latest WS-2 multiple launch rocket system. The weapon is fitted with 6 box-shape launchers and fires 400mm rockets to a maximum range of 200km, which is long enough to travel through the Taiwan Strait and attack Taiwan targets should a war break out. It is speculated that WS-2 is going to be a cheaper alternative to the expensive short range ballistic missiles in Chinese inventory. 

The WS-2 is fitted with a primitive cascade inertial terminal guidance to compensate the degraded accuracy caused by the long distance flight of the rocket. 

In 2008, it was revealed that sub-munitions are developed for WS-2, including a specialized anti-radar version, which is a rocket containing three UAVs. Once the rocket is fired to the target area, the UAVs are released the same way like other sub-munitions. The seekers would seek out target radar signals as UAVs begun to cruise, and once locked on to the radar, UAV would home in and attack. Some domestic Chinese military enthusiasts have claimed such technology was based on the principle of Israeli Harpy anti-radar UAVs, but this could not be confirmed by independent sources outside China.

A WS-1E and WS-2 rocket battalion shared the same equipment and is armed with:
Firing command truck (5 men): 1;
Rocket launch truck (3 men): 6;
Transport and loading truck (3 men): 6~9;
Rockets per launch truck: 30~48;
Preparation time (from traveling to firing) < 12 minutes Firing density: better than 1/600 m Accuracy: better than 0.3% 

Source: Wikipedia
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From UPI Asia.com (Hong Kong, China) by Andrei Chang, July 10, 2009:
Sudan obtains advanced Chinese MLRS
Sudan has acquired a small number of WS-2 multi-launch rocket systems from China, according to reliable information obtained by the author. A number of African delegates to last February’s Abu Dhabi International Defense Exhibition and Conference 2009, including North African military attachés, confirmed that a China-made “secret weapon” the Sudanese claimed to have acquired was in fact the 200-kilometer-ranged WS-2 multi-launch rocket system.
This is the first evidence that this system has been exported to an African country. In fact, it appears to be the first such export to any foreign country. It is unclear exactly when China shipped the WS-2 system to Sudan. But what is clear is that this will be the most powerful long-range attack system in all of Africa.

The Chinese companies capable of exporting the WS-2 system include the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation and Poly Group Corporation. Both companies refused to comment on the report, other than to stress that any weapon systems they had sold to Sudan were delivered before the international community imposed an arms embargo on the country. In late March, 2005 the U.N. Security Council imposed a ban on weapons sales to all parties involved in the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

For Sudan, the WS-2 is a top secret strategic weapon system; therefore it has never made an appearance in any of the country’s military parades.

Sources say that the WS-2 MLRS acquired by Sudan have undergone substantial upgrading. The system’s effective range has been modified to 70-200 kilometers, its accuracy is CEP 0.3 percent, and launch time for four tubes of rockets is six seconds. The system’s warhead weighs 200 kilograms and it uses four types of ammunition.

China has already developed an upgraded WS-3 precision-guided long-range MLRS on the foundation of the WS-2. The author has acquired some specifics about the WS-3 MLRS, which was first revealed at the Zhuhai Air Show in November 2008.

The WS-3 uses two types of guidance systems. Using the inertial navigation system it has a maximum range of 200 kilometers, and CEP of 300 meters. When using INS plus GPS guidance, the CEP is improved to 50 meters.

Other structural features of the WS-3 are not much different from the WS-2. The WS-3 was only recently approved for export, and no country has as yet purchased this new MLRS.

(Andrei Chang is editor-in-chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto, Canada.)

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