In 2006, some sources indicated that China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) had developed a new 155 mm HE projectile design which incorporated two auxiliary propulsion techniques – base bleed (BB) and rocket assistance (RA). Shortly after these early reports emerged, it became apparent that Norinco had in fact developed a new family of extended-range HE projectiles for 122, 130, 152, and 155 mm artillery systems. Information on these projectiles was first publicly presented at Abu Dhabi’s 2007 International Defense Exhibition (IDEX 2007).
Amongst other projectile types was a 130 mm rocket-assisted projectile (RAP) designated the BEE4, designed for use with 130 mm guns such as the M-46, Type 59, and Type 59-1. The Soviet M-46 was developed in the late 1940s, with full-scale production underway by 1954. The gun was later produced under license by China, adopted in 1959 as the Type 59. This was further modernised to significantly reduce the weight of the weapon, with the adoption of a new carriage (from the Type 60 122 mm gun) and muzzle brake. The modernised gun is known as the Type 59-1.
Despite their age, these 130 mm Soviet and Chinese guns are still very common in the armed forces of several countries, including China, thanks to their long range capability. Even with standard HE projectiles, they have a range of 27 km. By way of comparison, the US M198 155 mm howitzer firing M107 HE projectiles has a range of 22.4 km (note that other nations have developed projectiles with auxiliary propulsion for 155 mm guns that meet or exceed the range of the BEE4). The Chinese BEE4 130 mm BB/RA projectiles increases the maximum effective range from 27 to 44 km. Not long after the BEE4 projectile’s debut at IDEX 2007, Iran’s Defense Industries Organisation presented a 130 mm BB/RA projectile which has a claimed range of 42 km. One effect of this increased range is a commensurate reduction of precision at the longer ranges.
In mid-May 2015, images surfaced of a Syrian Arab Army soldiers posing with a 130 mm BEE4 BB/RA projectile. The soldiers were part of the crew of a 130 mm self-propelled gun (SPG). 130 mm gun and 122 mm D-30 type guns form the basis of the Syrian artillery. These SPG were developed in Syria prior to or in the early stages of the current conflict, by installing 130 mm M-46 guns on heavy trucks. They have been used by government forces from at least 2013.
Markings visible on the packaging indicate that the BEE4 projectiles were supplied under a contract from 2007. This is likely to mean that Syria was one of the first foreign buyers of these munitions.
With thanks to Mathieu Morant and @bm21_grad.
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AVOID the area
RECORD all relevant information
MARK the area to warn others
SEEK assistance from the relevant authorities
These 130 mm Soviet and Chinese guns are still very common, thanks to their long range capability. Even with standard HE projectiles, they have a range of 27 km. By way of comparison, the US M198 155 mm howitzer firing M107 HE projectiles has a range of 22.4 km.
This comparison is suspect, you are cultivating the impression the U.S. lags at <= 23km. Since 2005, The U.S has fielded the M777, 40km range with xcalibur GPS-guided munition. The USMC scored an operational hit at 36km in June 2012.
If we are making comparisons to 155mm pieces of western origin, the 39.6 km range of the late 1970s/early 1980s era Canadian GC-45/South African G5 w/base bleed shells/50 km range with VLAP [BB/RA] matches this NORINCO knockoff precisely. The Iranians already have 30 of these things.
Fortunately, the improved 2002 Denel G5-2000 did not make it to the copy machine that is the entire NORINCO R&D division.
Thank you for your comment. The comparison in text is actually between 130 mm Soviet/Chinese guns and 155 mm US guns of a comparable era firing comparable HE munitions (without auxiliary propulsion). There is certainly not meant to be any implication that BB or RA projectiles fielded by other nations cannot near-meet, meet, or exceed these Chinese developments.
We have updated the text for clarity.