Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ROKETSAN: T-300 Kasirga (Hurricane)

In the early 1980s, Turkish Land Forces Command showed interest in long range rocket system to supplement its artillery units and counter the long range MBRL and mechanized threat faced by Turkey from Soviet Union and other neighboring countries. After the lengthy evaluation process of different designs, LTV-made MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) was selected and an initial deal was signed in late 1987, this deal was covering the joint production of 180 M-70 MLRS launcher systems and more than 60,000 rockets. For the production, a Joint Venture was founded by LTV and Turkish companies in 1988. Turkey later decided that industrial benefits and amount of transfer of technology from this deal were nominal and not adequate. It was assessed that this project does not help Turkey to achieve its long term goals in rocket and missile technology. So deal to co-produce the M-70 MLRS was canceled. After the decision to cancel the initial agreement, to meet the urgent requirements of Turkish land forces command, Turkey decided to obtain few M-270 systems directly from the United States. 12 M-270 launchers and more than 2,000 M-26 227mm rockets were purchased with deliveries being completed in mid-1992. Due to improvement of in-house capabilities achieved by Turkish companies in area of artillery rocket systems Turkish land forces command decided not to go ahead with the second order of 24 additional M-270 MLRS with MGM-140 ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) tactical ballistic missile systems.

At this point in time cooperation with China and TUBITAK – SAGE increased in the field of rocket systems combines with the Indigenous solutions and self confidence gained by different local projects meant Turkey was not ready work with United States of America due to its unwillingness to share M-270 MLRS technology. TUBITAK - SAGE did reversed engineered the 227mm system called SAGE 227 rocket that can be fired from M-270 MLRS.

Reluctance of the United States to transfer the technology of M-270 MLRS and MGM-140 ATACMS mid 1990 resulted in a alternative program by Turkish land command that later became known as Kasirga (Hurricane) project. Primary aim was to develop and produce an alternative MLRS system with a higher rocket diameter than T-122 and this system was to provide firepower between howitzers and tactical ballistic missile systems.

Several countries were approached including France, Israel and China regarding rocket and missile technology transfer, joint development and co-production proposals. Chinese offer was considered the best one in terms of both financial and technological issues. As a result, agreement was signed with CPMIEC (Chinese Precision Machinery Import and Export Company) far the joint development and manufacture of WS-1(Wei Shi; Guardian) in 1997 under Kasirga (Hurricane) project. The Kasirga project with a budget of around $ 250million covering the delivery of a WS-1 battery with a command and control vehicle, six launcher vehicles and six resupply and reloading vehicles plus around 200 rockets directly from China and transfer of technology required for the production of the system. ROKETSAN started production of Kasirga in late 1997 and deliveries started in 1998.

Speculations about Turkey conducting some sort of cooperation on missile systems with China were circulating in media in early 2000's. Turkish newspapers like Milliyet and Cumhuriyet also published some reports on missile cooperation with China. But the confirmation of a long range artillery rocket system in Turkish inventory came from then-Defense Minister of Greece, Mr. Spilyos Spilyotopulos. In the NATO summit in Istanbul in June 2004, Mr. Spilyotopulos came with a package of Confidence Building Measures to the Turkish side including Turkey's removal of 10 military bridges in Meric (Evros) River, reduction of the Zodiac-type fast assault boats used by Turkish SAT (Underwater Demolition) by 50 percent, reduction of defense budgets by a certain ratio bilaterally and finally "the removal of Chinese made long range artillery rockets in Gokceada (Imbros) Island". This was the first public mention of a Chinese made rocket system in Turkish inventory. Kasirga Rocket System was to be revealed soon after that and was first put on display in the Victory Day parade in Ankara, August 30th, 2006.

There was lot of confusion about the Kasirga Rocket System due to its connection with the WS-1 rocket system as CPMIEC had another version of WS-1rocket system which was called WS-1B with a longer range and improved flight control system. Some sources did claimed that Kasirga was based on WS-1B but these turned out to be false. Details of the cooperation agreement between Turkey and China emerged to the public in late 2007, early 2008. It is now clear that WS-1B was not a part of the cooperation. ROKETSAN is conducting development work on TR-300 to improve the characteristics of the rocket can be considered as a high possibility given the company's knowledge of composite propellants and advanced production methods.

T-300 Kasirga MBRL system is based on Chinese WS-1 (Wei Shi; Guardian), with some modifications on the design with launcher very similar to the WS-1‘s launcher. In Turkish land forces service, the 302mm T-300 Kasirga MBRL system provides long range fire support with the T-122 system covering shorter ranges out to 40 km with the latest extended range rockets and filling the gap between howitzers and tactical missiles.

The T-300 Kasirga MBRLS consists of two key parts: The launcher system (T-300) and the rocket, TR-300. The T-300 MBRL is based on the German MAN (6×6) 26.372 10t cross-country truck chassis. Combat weight, complete with four rockets, is 23t. This MAN (6×6) also serves as T-122 launch platform for Turkish land forces command. F-302T, the launcher vehicle's cabin windows are provided with shutters which are lowered before the rockets are launched.

A 12.7mm machine gun is mounted on the cabin roof for self defense. To provide a more stable firing platform, four hydraulic stabilizers are lowered to the ground. Combat weight, complete with four rockets, is 23t and the rockets can be fired in a salvo of four rockets with an interval of six seconds between launch or one rocket can be fired at a time.

A typical Kasirga battery is composed of a Command and Control Vehicle, 6-9 launcher vehicles (F-302T) and 6-9 resupply and reloading vehicles, all based on German MAN (6×6) 26.372 10t cross-country truck chassis. Each launcher vehicle has four cylindrical tubes for the TR-300 rocket. Each 302mm rocket is 4.7 meters in length, weighs approx. 524 kg and is provided with 150kg of cluster munitions to take out a variety of targets such as fortifications, infrastructures, armored vehicles, etc. A single artillery system can get ready-to-fire within 20 minutes. TR-300 rocket has four fixed fins and reaches a maximum flight altitude of 30,000m with a maximum speed of Mach 4.2. Maximum range is quoted as 80-100km with a minimum range of 20 to 30km. The rockets use a composite solid propellant system (HTPB) and are usually fitted with a Blast Fragmentation warhead consisting of 26,000 steel balls.

Turkish land forces command has a total of 6 batteries of T-300 Kasirga system in service. The T-300 system and TR-300 is being promoted by ROKETSAN in various international defense exhibitions and offered for export. Given the successful export of TR-122 Sakarya MBRLS series along with 10,000 TRB-122, United Arab Emirates may become first export customer of T-300 Kasirga. At one time T-300 Kasirga was aggressively market to Pakistan for its requirement of long-range MBRL (Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher) but Pakistan opted for the A-100 multi-rocket launch systems along with Active phased array SLC-2 Radar from china to counter Indian purchase of Smerch MLRS from Russia. Pakistan is negotiating a deal for local production in future of A-100 MRLS.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More