One of the few new items to show up at the IDEX show in the UAE in Feb 2009 was this new brochure on the Chinese AR-1 short range air-to-surface missile, being promoted by Poly Technologies. It is described as being intended for medium and short range UAVs, making it one of the first missiles developed specifically for UAV employment. Guidance is semi-active laser, warhead is a 10 kg shaped charge, launch weight is 45 kg, 1.4 m long, 380mm span, 180mm diameter fuselage. Range is stated to be 2-8km. The AR-1 missile is a missile specially designed for UAV combat. Compared with the AKD-10 anti-tank missile launched by a helicopter of similar weight, the AR-1 has the ability to launch from higher altitude. The AR-1 missile is equipped with a semi-active laser guided system, specifically designed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics for UAVs. It is 1.45 meters long, has a diameter of 180 millimeters and weighs 45 kilograms. It can be launched at an altitude of 5,000 meters and can penetrate armored targets within 1 meter. It has a hit rate of more than 90 percent for targets with a speed of less than 70 kilometers per hour. The warhead has a declined structure, which allows it to laser capture a target 8 kilometers away horizontally. It also has an off-axis angle with a variance of plus or minus 20 degrees, all of which have enhanced its attack range and accuracy. In its latest firing practice, its miss distance was only 0.2 meters while the miss distance for a moving target vehicle is less than 1 meter.
With the rise in terrorism globally, combined with the U.S military ever increasing use of drones and Precision Guided Missiles (PGMs) in combat operations in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan, China foresaw a need for a lightweight compact guided missile. This realization prompted China to increase research into Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Precision Guided Weaponries. In early 2016, the AR-1 Missile was developed as an adaptation of the successful 3rd generation HJ-10 Arrow-10 series of Chinese anti-helicopter and anti-tank missiles, indigenously developed by Norinco for People’s Liberation Army.
The AR-1 missile was designed specifically for the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) CH-3 Rainbow attack UAV which was unveiled at the 7th Zhuhai Airshow held at the end of 2008, when the AR-1 missile also made its debut. The AR-1 missile is a Hellfire clone; it is equipped with either a GPS or a Laser guidance system. The missile was first reported in the late 1990s as a development of the HJ-10 guided missile. As with Chinese military doctrine, the AR-1 missile has evolved into different designs, but similar characteristics. Offering capabilities as a substitute to customers who may not be able to acquire expensive U.S. AGM-114 Hellfire missiles for their UAV fleet.
The AR-1 missile is similar in size to the HJ/AKD-10, but differs in shape. The diameter of the AR-1 missile is the same throughout its entire length. Two sets of control surfaces of the AR-1 missile are placed further apart, as opposed to immediately right next to each other in the case of the HJ/AKD-10. Instead of having a much larger set than the other, the sizes of two sets of control surfaces of the AR-1 missile are similar. The set of control surfaces at the front is swept instead of trapezoid-shaped like in the HJ/AKD-10, and they are closer to the tip of the missile.
Although the developer claimed that the AR-1 Missile can be armed with several types of seekers, such as TV, Imaging IR (ImIR), and semi-active laser homing, only the TV guided version was shown to the public. Contrary to some internet users’ opinion, the AR-1 Missile cannot be guided by MMW radar because the radars are too heavy and bulky to be carried by UAVs. Even though the Norinco claimed that the AR-1 missile can adopt different guidance systems, only a combination of inertial guidance + satellite guidance (GPS was shown during its debut) has been confirmed to be in use.
The AR-1 missile can be used against various targets from individual soldiers to tanks and small boats. At the 7th Zhuhai Airshow where the AR-1 missile made its debut, it was not displayed as an independent weapon system, but as a subsystem of the CH-3 UCAV. Judging from its appearance, it is safe to assume that the warhead arming the AR-1 missile is similar to that of the AKD-10.
Following numerous lessons learned in weapons manufacturing processes and efficient supply, the Chinese authorities encourages UAV designers and missile manufacturers to make their weapons backward compatible with older designs, making their vital components like targeting systems interchangeable to increase customer’s options. This move bolstered the sales of Chinese UAVs, missiles systems and sensors and also increased customer’s dependability and reliance.
The Egyptian Air Force operates three types of Chinese drones: ASN-209 produced locally, CH-5 and Wing Loong purchased in 2015. As the confrontation between the Egyptian military forces and Wilayet Sinai – the local arm of ISIS escalates in the Sinai Peninsula, the Egyptian Task Force 777 has procured Wing Loong a Chinese built UCAV. The Wing Loong is a medium-altitude long-endurance drone use for ISR and ground attack role, it can be fitted with various missiles like the AR-1 missile, BA-7 Air-to-ground missile, YZ-212 laser-guided bomb, YZ-102A anti-personnel bomb and 50kg LS-6 guided bomb.
The CH-4 drone has an external appearance similar to the US Predator drone. The CH-4 drone is used for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions. It can carry up to four to six AR-1 missile and 100-pound laser-guided bombs.
The first evidence that the Nigerian Air Force has acquired the Chinese CASC CH-3 Rainbow was on January 27, 2014 when a Twitter user in Borno State released photos of what appeared to be a crashed drone. The drone crashed during a strike mission against islamists terrorist in the Northeast of Nigeria, it was carrying a pair of the AR-1 missile.
In 2014, the Nigerian Air Force procured five units of the CASC CH-3 Rainbow Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV). The surviving four are currently deployed for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions with an occasional ground attack role.
In January 2017, Nigeria might have deployed a single CH-3 UCAV to Gambia as part of the air component of forces sent to the country restore civil order. The CH-3 Rainbow is part of the Nigerian Air Force local air dominance mechanism in the fight against Boko Haram, the CH-3 is used alongside numerous attack helicopters and the Dornier Alpha jet.
The Pakistan Army announced 07 September 2015 that the country’s domestically-made Pegasus UAV launched the Lightning laser guided missile for the first time in actual combat. Drones attacked buildings located near the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan and successfully killed three senior members of the Taliban organization. Pakistan has a variety of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in combat. It is reported that the Pakistan Army used the "Pegasus" UAV to launch a laser-guided "Lightning" missile for the first time on March 14, 2015. Both types of equipment are produced in Pakistan.
According to foreign media reports, the "Pegasus" UAV and the "Lightning" missile are the "Rainbow-3" UAV and AR-1 missiles that Pakistan had obtained authorization from China to produce. Both of these equipment are equipped with China Aerospace Science and Technology Group Beijing Designed by a research institute. The Rainbow-3 UAV is a mid-range surveillance and combat UAV with a battery life of 12 hours. It can carry 50 kilograms of satellite-guided bombs and laser semi-active guided anti-tank missiles.
On 13 November 2018, IHS Jane’s reported that the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has completed development of its AR-1B precision missile. During Airshow China 2018, a CASC spokesperson told Jane’s the missile will be used for armed reconnaissance and UAV missions. The new missile has a maximum speed of Mach 1 (343 m/s) and a range of 10 km, with a wider field-of-view for its seeker, giving it greater precision strike capability. The AR-1B also carries a 43 kg armor-piercing shaped charge or blast fragmentation warhead.
|Weight||45 kg (99 lb)|
|Warhead||10 kg (22 lb)|
|Range||up to 10 km (6.2 mi)|
|Guidance||inertial + satellite guidance|
|Armor penetration||> 1,000 mm (39 in)|
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