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PF-89

Single use anti-tank rocket launcher

PF-89

The PF-89 is a simple-to-use and weapon, effective against light armor

 
 
Country of origin China
Entered service 1993
Caliber 80 mm
Weight 3.7 kg
Length 900 mm
Muzzle velocity 147 m/s
Sighting range 400 m
Range of effective fire 200 m
Armor penetration 180 ~ 400 mm

 

   In the late 1970s and early 1980s Chinese army saw a need to replace its Type 69 anti-tank rocket launcher, which was a clone of a Soviet RPG-7. At the time Soviets were rapidly modernizing their fleet of armored vehicles. An individual anti-tank weapon was required, that would be much lighter and more compact than the Type 69, and could be carried by every rifleman of an infantry squad. The previous Type 69 ant-tank rocket launcher required a crew of 2 soldiers, including gunner and assistant, who carries reload rockets. Development of a new generation Chinese anti-tank rocket launcher commenced in 1983. The new weapon was introduced and certified in 1989, hence its designation. It entered service with the Chinese army in 1993. Mass production commenced during the same year. Sometimes this anti-tank rocket launcher is referred as PF-89-80-1. Numbers "89" in the designation denote the 1989 model, number "80" denotes 80 mm caliber and number "1" denotes that this weapon is operated by a single soldier. During the 1990s the PF-89 replaced the older Type 69. Currently it is the main individual anti-tank weapon, carried by infantrymen. The PF-89 and its derivatives have been exported to some countries, including Cambodia.

   The PF-89 is a single use weapon, which is fired from the shoulder. This anti-tank rocket launcher resembles a Swedish AT-4 (used by the US army as the M136). Though the PF-89 is a new design, rather than a clone of the AT-4. Also it is a rocket launcher, rather than a single-use recoilless rifle, so in this way its design is more similar to a US M72 LAW, or a Soviet RPG-22.

   The PF-89 launcher fires an 80 mm rocket with a High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead. Its rocket is packed in a fiberglass tube and weights 1.84 kg. This tube also acts as a storage and carrying case of the rocket. During flight it is fin-stabilized. It penetrates around 400 mm of vertical steel armor or a 180 mm steel plate, inclined at 65 degree angle. Some sources report that the PF-89 penetrates a 630 mm vertical steel plate, These numbers might not be true, as similar Western and Russian anti-tank rocket launchers struggle to penetrate more than 400 mm of steel armor. The PF-89 is effective against lightly armored vehicles such as armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery systems and so on. However its penetration is not sufficient to effectively engage modern main battle tanks. For this role Chinese army has a much more powerful PF-98 anti-tank rocket launcher, which was adopted back in the mid 1990s and is also deployed by infantry units. Though the PF-98 is a much larger and heavier weapon, operated by a crew of 3 soldiers, while the PF-89 is an individual weapon that can be carried by riflemen as an addition to their assault rifles.

   A rectangular assembly on the base of the launcher contains a folding, half-tube shaped pistol grip, the trigger group (which is covered by the pistol grip while it is folded). The launch system is mechanical rather than electrical. Such system is safer and more reliable, as it eliminates the need for batteries and the possibility of misfiring due to static electricity. There are removable covers on each side of the launch tube. The covers have built-in safety mechanism, which prevents accidental fire if these covers are not removed.

   This launcher has got a carrying handle and is watertight. Also the launcher is non reusable. Once the rocket is launched, the launcher is discarded, as it can not be reloaded.

   The PF-89 is cheap and easy to produce and simple-to-use weapon. Simple instructions are printed on the side of the weapon. It can be used effectively with minimal training.

   Loaded launcher of the PF-89 weights only slightly more than a loaded QBZ-95 assault rifle, which is a standard infantry weapon in China. Furthermore the PF-89 is significantly smaller and weights slightly less than half of the older Type 69 launcher loaded with rocket. Yet the PF-89 has armor penetrating force equal or greater than that of the Type 69.

   This weapon has an integral simple optical sight with 2.5x magnification. The baseline PF-89 has a sighting range of 400 meters, though effective range is up to 200 meters. Once the rocket is launched the sight can be removed and reused. However there is no provision to mount a night sight. Rather short effective range of the PF-89 is one of the limitation of this weapon, which is overall rather effective one.

   Over time the baseline PF-89 anti-tank rocket launcher evolved into a whole family of weapons with different capabilities.

 

Variants

 

   PF-89A is a multi-purpose rocket with a High Explosive (HE) warhead. In 2001 the Chinese army issued requirement for a new infantry rocket launcher, effective against bunkers. Development began in 2002. This weapon was adopted in 2006 or 2007. Externally the launcher of the PF-89A is identical, though it is slightly different internally, as the rockets are not interchangeable. The loaded launcher weights 4.2 kg. Its rocket weights 2.35 kg. This rocket penetrates 300 mm of reinforced concrete or 20 mm of steel armor angled at 65 degrees. Effective range is 180 meters. This weapon is effective against unarmored and lightly armored vehicles, bunkers and various field fortification, troops in an open terrain and inside buildings.

   PF-89-1 is a version with a tandem HEAT warhead. Its development commenced back in 1994 or 1997. Originally it was known as PF-89B. It has a precursor charge, which is used to defeat explosive reactive armor. The PF-89B has improved armor penetration. Also it is effective against armored vehicles fitted with explosive reactive armor. As the warhead became larger, weight of the rocket increased to around 2.5 kg and the loaded PF-89B launcher weights around 4.7 kg. The rocket travels at a speed of 140 m/s. The PF-89B was adopted by the Chinese army in 2004 under the designation PF-89-1.

   BMK-2 is a rocket launcher with an 80 mm bunker busting munition.

   WPF-89-1 is a reloadable thermobaric rocket launcher. Its development was completed in 2002. It has a cylindrical projectile, which uses oxygen from the surrounding and generates high pressure and high temperature explosion. This weapon is extremely effective against hostile troops located in bunkers, buildings, field fortifications, underground tunnels, as well as entrenched infantry and unarmored vehicles. However its destructive power is lower than that of bunker busting projectiles. Rocket of the WPF-89-1 has around 54% of destructive power compared to that of the PF-89A multi-purpose rocket with a HE warhead. Launcher of the WPF-89-1 is reusable and can be reloaded up to 7 times. However reloading is rather complicated and time consuming. By the time the WPF-89-1 was introduced, Chinese army has already deployed a more powerful PF-97 thermobaric rocket launcher, which is a copy of a Soviet RPO-A Shmel. Though the PF-97 is a single-use launcher and has no reloading capability. The WPF-89-1 is being proposed for export customers.

   WPF-89-2 is a single use multi-purpose rocket. It was developed in 2003 to address shortcomings of the WPF-89-1 reloadable rocket launcher, particularly its slow and troublesome reload process. The new WPF-89-2 launcher is non-reusable and uses rocket of new type. Its rocket has a tandem warhead with HEAT and thermobaric effects. The first stage penetrates through enhanced concrete wall of a building, brickwork, or light armor. It is followed by the second stage, which generates thermobaric blast. It is primarily used against bunkers, buildings and field fortifications. Though it is also effective against lightly armored vehicles. This rocket can be even used to detonate landmines and improvised explosive devices. This weapon is being proposed for export customers.

   DZJ-08 is another single-use multi-purpose rocket launcher. It can be seen as a next-generation version of the PF-89A. It can be used against lightly armored vehicles and buildings. One of its roles is to breach the walls in order to allow forced entries into buildings. It has a number of features of the PF-89. Also it uses rocket of the same 80 mm caliber. However it has a countermass, which reduced the backblast area. Due to this feature the DZJ-08 can be used inside the buildings. It was adopted by the Chinese military and is used in large numbers.

   Some sources report that there is another derivative of the PF-89 used by China's armed police and intended for wall destruction. This weapon is intended for breaching the walls in order to allow forced entries into buildings. Upon development it was requested that its rocket would have sufficient power to destroy walls, but would not injure people or hostages inside these buildings. This launcher has a tandem type warhead. Its rocket has a range of 50 meters and penetrates through 370 mm of brickwork, making a hole 550 mm in diameter.

 

 
PF-89

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