Weapons: Chinese Bunker Buster

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October 30, 2010: For the last two years, a new Chinese infantry weapon, the DZJ08 80mm single shot rocket launcher, has garnered a good reputation among Chinese troops who have been able to use it. In development for eight years, it reached the troops in 2008. It has a 300 meter range, a 1.65 kg (3.63 pounds) warhead and the entire weapon weighs 7.5 kg (16.5 pounds). The DZJ08 takes advantage of years of combat experience by American troops using similar weapons. For example, the U.S. Marine Corps has bought thousands of M136/AT4 rocket launchers. These 6.8 kg (15 pound), disposable systems are a meter (40 inches) long and 84mm (3.3 inches) in diameter. They cost about $2,100 each, and have a 1.8 kg (four pound) warhead. The AT/4 is used to deal with enemy infantry in bunkers or buildings. The marines have been using the AT/4 since the 1990s.

The AT/4 was so successful that the army revived its similar, 1970s era, LAW. The new LAW is more compact (51cm/20 inches long, 66mm/2.6 inches in diameter), lighter (3.5 kg/7.7 pounds) but not much cheaper (about $2,000 each). It's one kg (2.2 pound) warhead can still knock out light armored vehicles (and unarmored ones as well), but it most often used against enemy troops inside bunkers and buildings.

Both the LAW and AT/4 warheads are sometimes too small, which caused the marines to buy the SMAW (Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon). This is a 7.7 kg (17 pound) Israeli design. The SMAW launcher costs $14,000, but is not disposable, and each launcher can fire hundreds of 6.8 kg (15 pound) rockets, up to 500 meters, before it wears out or gets broken in action. The marines particularly liked the thermobaric (fuel-air explosive) rocket for the SMAW. These proved very useful during the 2004 battle of Fallujah. This rocket, when fired into a room, first disperses a combustible mist, which is then ignited, producing an enormous explosion, that often destroys small buildings, and kills everyone in the room, and adjacent rooms and hallways. The DZJ is believed to also come with different warheads (anti-tank or wall busting).

 

 


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