China unveils small precision-guided missile – AR-2
April 16, 2024
The CH-5 equipped with AR-1 (right) and AR-2 (left) missiles.

China unveils small precision-guided missile – AR-2

The China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) recently revealed the AR-2 small precision-guided air-to-ground missile, the China Daily reports.

The AR-2 uses a 5-kg warhead with a semi-active laser-homing (SALH) seeker. It has a range of 8 km and a maximum speed of 735 km/h. The AR-2 weighs 20 kg, lighter than the 45-kg AR-1.

The AR-2 was designed for the CH-series of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which were developed and produced by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

As per the China Daily, the AR-2 can be used to target “personnel, armored cars, houses [and] bunkers.”

Notes & Comments:

Since 2010, China has seen considerable success in exporting CH-3 and CH-4 armed drones, especially to the Middle East (i.e. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates) as well as others to whom the U.S. had been reluctant to sell the MQ-1 Predator. CASC is presenting the AR-2 as a complementary munition to the heavier AR-1, with the former deployed for low-yield engagement (for reducing collateral damage).

In Air Show China 2016, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) signalled its intention to build upon CH-3/CH-4 sales in its existing markets (and to expand) by offering its newly unveiled the CH-5 and Cloud Shadow jet-powered medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs for export. The CH-5 has a maximum external payload of 1,000 kg, enabling it to carry up to 16 guided air-to-ground munitions. The CH-5 also has an internal payload of 200 kg, which can be used for sensors.

With the UAVs, command/guidance system (capped to 290 km in range) and precision-guided munitions, AVIC is offering complete systems. AVIC is largely uncontested in the non-NATO market, especially in key markets such as the Middle East, which had bought the CH-4 in lieu of the Predator.

However, considering the payload and potential range (achievable with satellite communication) in play with the CH-5 and the Cloud Shadow, CH-3 and CH-4 users such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have compelling next-generation UAV options in China.