DSA 2018: PLA fields integrated rifle/grenade launcher
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has fielded on a limited basis the QTS-11 individual integrated combat system. The new weapon, in the hands of a reconnaissance battalion in the 112th Mechanised Infantry Division of the Central Theatre Command, appeared on CCTV footage in January being examined by President Xi Jinping.
The QTS-11 consists of combined assault rifle with integral manually operated 20mm grenade launcher. These weapon systems are coupled with a fire control system and laser rangefinder.
A modular electro-optic sight with high-definition camera can be added by soldiers according to circumstances, which is beneficial in helping them manage the weapon’s overall weight. An additional eyepiece device mounted on the helmet is available to allow round-corner firing.
The 950mm-long rifle is a derivative of the Type 03 (QBZ-03) 5.8mm assault rifle. The single-shot bolt-action grenade launcher is mounted atop in a single-piece receiver. It weighs 4.27kg empty and up to 7kg fully loaded and with sights.
Five types of grenade are reportedly available: impact detonation; airburst; armour-piercing; improved fragmentation and shotgun rounds. Grenades are pre-programmed through the electronic sight and fire control system.
The QTS-11 is integrated into a fully digitised individual soldier combat system that features a positioning system.
One of the first PLA units to employ it is a special forces formation of the Western Theatre Command known as the Sky Wolf commandos. PLA Navy marines operating in the Gulf of Aden on anti-piracy missions are also using it.
It is expected, following successful evaluations by various units, that the system will be more widely distributed. However, it will not be issued to every soldier because of the cost involved.
In typical gushing fashion, CCTV described the system as ‘the strongest individual firepower in the world’. However, China is not a pioneer as the US had previously developed the XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), and S&T Motiv in South Korea introduced the K11.
However, China’s weapon differs in that grenade rounds must be loaded individually rather than being fed by a magazine.
Interestingly, the now cancelled OICW moved from 20mm to 25mm grenade rounds because their lethality was insufficient. However, China claims a 7.7m kill radius for its 20mm round. The grenades have a claimed 800m range at a muzzle velocity of 220m/s.
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