Type 90 122mm Multiple Rocket Launcher
The Type 90 is the second-generation truck-mounted 122mm 40-tube multiple launch rocket system developed by China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO) in the mid-1990s as a successor to the Type 81 122mm rocket system. The Type 90 has been promoted by NORINCO to the export market, but has yet received any order. The improved Type 90B was first revealed in 2004.
The PLA developed the Type 81 122mm 40-tube multiple launch rocket system based on the Soviet BM-21 ‘Grad’ in the early 1980s. In the mid-1990s NORINCO revealed a new 122mm rocket system design known as Type 90. The biggest difference on the Type 90 is the reload pack carrying 40 spare rockets, which can reload the rocket launcher within 3 minutes after the first launch, providing additional firepower with quick turnarounds. The launcher is mounted on the improved North-Benz 2629 6X6 truck, which possesses better performance compared to the Yan’an SX2150 truck used by the Type 81.
The Type 90 is also supported by a large formation of ground equipment including a battery command truck, rocket reloading trucks, reconnaissance APC, meteorological radar, and maintenance vehicles. Greater firing accuracy is ensured by the use of a computerised fire-control system integrated with GPS on the improved Type 90B. The weapon system could deliver intensive fire-power over a distance of 40km within a very short period. The weapon was designed to engage large area targets such as armour formation, airport, weapon storages, etc. NORINCO has developed a range of warheads for different purposes.
The Type 90 fires 122mm fin-stabilised free rockets to a minimum range of 10~12km and a maximum range of 20~40km depending on the rocket type. The combination of spin- and fin-stabilisation ensures closely grouped fire. The rocket can deliver High-Explosive (HE), High-Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG), High-Explosive Incendiary (HEI), anti-tank/anti-personnel submunitions, and mind-laying warheads of 18.3~22kg at standard range, or 26~28kg at reduced range. These rockets could also be launched from the older Type 81 rocket system.
A typical Type 90 multiple launch rocket system battalion comprises the battalion headquarters and three firing units (companies). The battalion headquarter is equipped with:
- A battalion command truck;
- 3 reconnaissance APC;
- A meteorological radar truck;
- A mechanical maintenance truck;
- A electronic maintenance truck
Each firing unit is equipped with:
- A company command truck;
- 6 rocket launch trucks
- 6 reloading trucks
The battalion/company command trucks are in the form of workshop shelter mounted on 6X6 North-Benz 2629 trucks. They are the command and control centre for artillery firepower resources and used for planning out the effective application of firepower. The battalion command truck is responsible for control and coordination of the three firing units (companies), and the company command trucks perform individual trajectory calculations and corrections, data processing and management for a company of up to six rocket launch trucks. The command trucks are equipped with radio and intercoms for communications, and GPS for accurate positioning.
The free rocket used by the WS-1 and WS-1B consists of the warhead and fuse, an FG-42/43 rocket motor and the tail section. The FG-42/43 rocket motor is a single chamber, solid rocket motor with an advanced hydroxy-terminated polybutadine (HTPB) composition rocket propellant. The rocket of the WS-2 system features four control surfaces in the middle section of the rocket for terminal guidance.
The rocket can be fitted with various types of warheads including anti-armour/personnel submunition, blasting, fuel air explosive (FAE), and high-explosive (HE). The ZDB-2 blasting warhead is loaded with steel balls and prefabricated fragments. The SZB-1 submunition warhead is designed to destroy large area targets such as armour formation and infantry troops. When the SZB-1 submunition warhead detonates, around 500 bullets are expelled under high pressure.
The rocket launch truck uses a North-Benz 2629 6X6 truck. The electrically powered launcher has four rows of 10 tubes mounted above each other on a rotating cradle assembly. The launch tubes have an elevation range of 0° to 55° and azimuth range of -102° to +102°. The truck is equipped with two hydraulically operated stabilisers at rear which are lowered in preparation for the rocket launch.
The rocket launcher can be operated in manual, semi-automatic, or automatic modes. The electrical firing system fires the rockets in either single or in salvo with 0.5 seconds interval. The launcher can be operated inside the driver’s cab or remotely outside the vehicle. The reloading rack located in front of the launcher can load the launcher in under 3 minutes. The truck is equipped with a hydraulically operated foldable canvas cover, which covers the launcher and the reloading rack when the truck is in travelling mode.
The vehicle is fitted with slope and gradient sensors, launcher elevation and and azimuth sensors, as well as GPS and computerised fire control system to ensure higher firing accuracy.
The artillery reconnaissance vehicle for the Type 90B is based on the 6X6 WZ551 wheeled armoured personnel carrier. The vehicle is located at front position for target acquisition and surveillance. The reconnaissance APC is equipped with portable laser rangefinder with a maximum range of 10,000m and an accuracy of +/-5m; thermal imager for nigh operations; radio communications; message processor; and panoramic periscopes.
Rocket calibre: 122mm
Number of tubes: 40
Rocket length: 2,870mm (20km range HE); 2,757mm (30km range HE); 2,900mm (40km range HE)
Rocket weight: 67kg (20km range HE); 61kg (30km range HE)
Min firing range: 9~12km
Max firing range: 20~40km
Rate of fire: 40 rounds in 18~20 seconds
Reloading time: 3 minutes
Launch vehicle road speed: 85km/h
Launch vehicle travelling range: 800km
Last update: 14 March 2008