China's People's Liberation Army has been hard at work developing an under-barrel grenade launcher with similar laser-guided capabilities as those seen in the arsenals of US and UK armies. There's nowhere to run (or hide) once you're in these sights.
The launcher is an integral component of China's futuristic ZH-05 Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), which was introduced at the turn of the century to as an update to the PLA's existing 1950s-era rifle arsenal.
Carried primarily by the Chinese Marines and special forces, the ZH-05 weighs less than 5 kilos fully loaded with 5.8mm rounds (probably because it still uses a manual bolt action). And rather than a traditional iron sight, the ZH-05 utilises a digital camera integrated into the soldier's head-mounted optics.
Image: Hongjian - China Defense Forum
The most impressive feature of the ZH-05 though is its 20mm laser-guided grenade launcher. Designed to perform the same duties as the M203, the launcher offers a range of a half mile with a blast radius of 25 feet. Plus it offers three kinds of rounds: an anti-personnel airburst, a pellet canister (think long-range shotgun), and a conventional impact grenade.
Per Military Informant:
The measured range-finder range to the target displayed on sight and entered automatically into the fire control system to calculate corrections for the shooting conditions and determine the number of revolutions grenades on the trajectory. Programming grenades carried in the arms, at the stage of loading, and provides an introduction to the original data and amendments issued by the ballistic computer, to solve the problem of combining non-contact point with the contour of a grenade explosion goal.
That means the grenade can be programmed to explode at a set distance, whether or not it actually impacts anything. With proper aim, a soldier would be able to program the grenade's electronic fuse to detonate and air-burst above an enemy position.
In fact, field tests found the launcher 60 per cent more efficient than conventional mortars during urban combat. What's more, the ZH-05 is reportedly far less expensive to produce than its US "smart rifle" counterpart, the XM-29, which costs the equivalent of £22,000 a piece. Looks like laser-guided grenades are here to stay. [Firearms Blog - PopSci - Medium - Military - Wikipedia]
lead image: www.top81.cn