Developed by Thales Belgium, formerly Forges de Zeebrugge (FZ), the FZ275 Semi-Active Laser (SAL) guided rocket is a precision effector made to defeat ground-based soft and light armoured targets.

The new laser-guided rocket is part of Thales’ 70mm/2.75in rockets used by armed forces of more than 50 countries including Germany, India and Spain. The 70mm/2.75in rocket is capable of providing a single rocket solution to tackle air, vehicle and ground-based platforms.

The FZ275 guided rocket was test fired from the LAND-LGR4 “Fletcher” launcher of Arnold Defense in Sweden in January 2022. Arnold Defense is a US-based manufacturer of 70mm/2.75in compatible rocket launchers. The formal certification for firing the FZ275 rocket from the LAND-LGR4 Fletcher launcher was received after the testing.

Thales was awarded a contract by Airbus Helicopters to integrate the FZ275 LGR on the H145M helicopter in March 2017. The contract was awarded in June 2016 after Thales was named the preferred supplier of guided rocket systems for Airbus Helicopters’ military helicopter range equipped with the HForce weapon system.

FZ275 SAL rocket design and features

The FZ275 LGR is claimed to be the lightest and the longest range LGR in the 70mm/2.75in class. It features an advanced propellant grain and reduced foreign object debris (FOD) and offers superior accuracy and lethality.

The rocket is compatible with Thales’ existing conventional 2.75in rocket system. It is steered using four folding canards surrounding the rocket. The 70mm LGR has a high first hit probability and enhanced stand-off range. It can be operated by dismounted rapid reaction forces to hit fixed and mobile targets with pinpoint accuracy, with reduced collateral damage.

The rocket has low platform vulnerability and requires simple field installation and minimal training for operators.

The FZ275 can be operated during day and night to hit a variety of targets which include, but not limited to: soft and light armoured vehicles; radar sites; air defence facilities; aircraft on ground; communications installations; small ships and patrol boats; snipers; and soft bunkers.

The rocket has a length of 1.8m and a calibre of 2.75in (70mm). It has a weight of about 12.7kg with a 4.1kg warhead.

The rocket is an ideal solution that is expected to close the gap between low-cost unguided rockets and missiles.

Land LGR4 Fletcher launcher details

Arnold Defense’s missile launchers provide users the flexibility to choose from a range of certified rocket systems based on the mission requirements or in-service inventory.

First unveiled in 2017 at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) event in London, UK, the Land-LGR4 Fletcher is a lightweight and reliable laser-guided weapon launching solution for precision fire support.

The launcher can be fitted on a ground-based vehicle and a watercraft or can be operated as an independent platform. With the maximum range of 8km and a minimum of 1km, it can strike targets with precision at a range of up to 6km.

The laser-guided weapon system has a length of 74.5in (1.89m). The diameter of the pod for holding the rocket is 8in (20.32cm). The launcher has an empty weight of 60lb (27.2kg) and can hold four rockets in its four pods.

FZ275 SAL rocket warhead and semi-active laser designator

The FZ275 rockets are compatible with warheads including FZ271 (HEGP – high explosive general purpose), FZ181 (flash signature), FZ319 (HEAP – high explosive armour piercing), FZ120 (inert practice), FZ149 (multi-dart), FZ336 (smoke), and FZ122 (flechette).

The FZ275 rocket can carry a high explosive (HE) warhead containing 1kg explosive with compound B composition. The warhead is of pre-fragmented shell type with a kill radius of 9m. It can be equipped with an impact base fuse at the base to optimise load and splinter efficiency.

The warhead is guided by a semi-active laser, which is compatible with STANAG 3733 or user-defined code. A laser designator is required for directing the rocket to the target. The inbuilt seeker can track the specially coded laser that is reflected from the target. The target can be marked at different times including before the launch in lock-on before launch (LOBL) mode or after the launch in lock-on after launch (LOAL) mode.

A remote source such as a soldier on the ground or any aerial platform can also be used to mark the target.

FZ275 SAL rocket performance

The FZ275 semi-active laser rocket has a range between 1.5km and 7km. The circular error of probability (CEP) for the rocket is less than 1m at 6km range. The warhead can penetrate into ST37-2 (DIN 17100)-grade steel up to a thickness of 6mm.

The rocket can be used effectively on stationary and moving targets at a speed of approximately 60km/h.

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