China's missile defense


China's missile defense. In the 21 century, China became one of the leading economically developed states. Along with the growth of the economy and the well-being of the population, the PRC leadership began to demonstrate increased ambitions and exert a greater influence on the processes taking place in the world. Experts specializing in international relations, note the increased presence of Chinese companies in the countries of the "third world", in connection with which increased competition for markets, unhindered access to transport corridors and sources of resources.

In 2013, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China put forward the One Belt, One Way initiative to promote trade and investment projects involving as many countries as possible and using Chinese capital. To date, more than 120 states and dozens of international organizations have joined its implementation. The initiative combines two projects: “Silk Road Economic Belt” (involves the formation of a single trade and economic space and transcontinental transport corridor) and “21st Century Sea Silk Road” (development of sea trade routes).


It is clear that the implementation of such ambitious projects runs counter to the US plans to dominate world politics and the economy. Achieving goals is possible only with strengthening the defense capabilities of China. At present, the Chinese leadership is successfully implementing a program of modernization of the armed forces, which should enable it to successfully counter American military power.

The modernization program of the People’s Liberation Army of China, while reducing the number of ground forces, provides for an increase in the role of high-tech military branches. Currently, the PLA is saturated with modern combat aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles of various classes, guided by weapons, communication systems and electronic warfare. In China, attempts are being made to create armored vehicles that can compare with Russian and Western models. Already, the Chinese air defense system, equipped with modern air defense systems, radar and combat control equipment of its own and Russian production, is considered one of the strongest in the world. The Chinese Navy, annually receiving the latest ocean-class ships, is growing at an unprecedented pace, and at the moment, with the support of coastal aviation, it is able to challenge the US Navy in the Asia-Pacific zone.

Along with the increase in the qualitative characteristics of conventional weapons, observers note an increase in strategic nuclear forces. The PRC is actively developing and adopting new types of ICBMs, SLBMs, SLBMs, nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles and long-range bombers. The aim of improving the Chinese strategic nuclear forces is to create a nuclear missile potential capable of inflicting unacceptable losses on any potential adversary, which makes a nuclear attack on China impossible. Observers note that after gaining unlimited access to uranium deposits in Africa and Central Asia, China has the potential to dramatically increase the number of warheads on strategic carriers, and in the near future achieve nuclear parity with the United States and Russia.

An increase in the number of modern mine and mobile ICBMs equipped with several combat units with individual guidance and means to overcome missile defense, as well as the withdrawal of a significant number of SSBNs with SLBMs capable of reaching the continental United States, can lead to the abandonment of the doctrine of “delayed nuclear retaliation” and transition to a “reciprocal strike”. Much has already been done in China. The construction of the ground component of the missile attack warning system is nearing completion, with a network of over-the-horizon and over-the-horizon radars capable of detecting missile launches and attacking warheads in a timely manner. It should be expected that in China measures will be taken to deploy a satellite network in geostationary orbit designed for early fixation of ballistic missile launches and calculation of flight paths. In the last decade, the topic of tests of the Chinese anti-satellite and anti-ballistic missiles has been actively discussed in foreign media weapons. A number of experts claim that it is already possible to place systems capable of intercepting individual warheads and destroying spacecraft in low orbits in the PRC on experimental combat duty.

Anti-missile capabilities of anti-aircraft missile systems of the People's Liberation Army of China


The appearance in the PLA of the first anti-aircraft missile systems with anti-missile capabilities was made possible thanks to Russian-Chinese military-technical cooperation. By the beginning of the 1990, it became clear that China was far behind in the field of modern air defense and missile defense systems. At that time, the PRC did not have the scientific and technological base necessary for the independent design of long-range anti-aircraft missile systems, which could also be used to repel missile attacks.

After the normalization of relations between our countries, Beijing expressed interest in acquiring modern air defense systems. In 1993, China received four C-300PMU anti-aircraft missile systems. This anti-aircraft system with towed launchers was an export modification of the S-300PS air defense system, which until recently had been the main one in the Russian Federation air defense system. Unlike the American Patriot, the S-300PS anti-aircraft missile system was intended only to combat aerodynamic targets and was never considered a means of missile defense. For this, the USSR created and adopted the S-300V air defense system on a caterpillar chassis with the heavy 9M82 anti-ballistic missile, but the S-300V was not supplied to the PRC.

In 1994, the next Russian-Chinese agreement was signed on the purchase of 8 divisions of advanced C-300ПМУ-1 (export version of С-300ПМ) worth $ 400 million. Four PLANXNXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXNX DE and 300 missiles 32Н5Е.


Google Earth satellite imagery: C-300PMU-2 position at Huiyan Airbase in Fujian, off the coast of the Taiwan Strait

In the 2003 year, China expressed its intention to purchase advanced C-300PMU-2 (export version of the S-300PM2 air defense system). The order included 64 self-propelled launchers and 256 anti-aircraft missiles. The first divisions were delivered to the customer in the 2007 year. An improved anti-aircraft system is capable of simultaneously firing at 6 air targets at ranges up to 200 km and altitudes up to 27 km. With the adoption of the C-300PMU-2, the PLA air defense units for the first time received limited capabilities to intercept operational-tactical ballistic missiles. With the help of missiles 48Н6E it was possible to fight with OTR at a distance of up to 40 km.

The S-400 air defense missile systems with the 48Н6Е2 missiles have great capabilities for intercepting ballistic targets. In 2019, the delivery of two regiment sets of S-400 air defense systems to China was completed. According to the reference data, which is freely available, in comparison with the 48Н6E SAM, the 48Н6Е2 missile, due to its better dynamics and new warhead, is more suitable for intercepting ballistic missiles. The S-400 air defense system includes the 91Н6Е radar capable of tracking and targeting a ballistic target with an EPR of 0,4 m² at a range of 230 km. The longest line of ballistic missile interception is 70 km. A number of sources say that the C-400 system is capable of combating not only operational tactical missiles, but also intercepting warheads of intercontinental and medium-range ballistic missiles.

In January 2019, Russian media published information that during firing in China, the S-400 air defense missile at a range of 250 km hit a ballistic target flying at a speed of 3 km / s. In fact, Chinese sources, citing representatives of the PLA, said that they managed to intercept a missile launched from a distance of 250 km. But it was not said at what distance from the launcher.


Western observers note that the latest contract for the supply of S-400 air defense systems by Chinese standards is not impressive, and cannot be compared with the purchase volumes of S-300PMU / PMU-1 / PMU-2. The S-300PMU anti-aircraft systems available in China, delivered more than 25 years ago, are gradually being replaced by their own HQ-9A air defense systems. So, at positions near Shanghai, where in the past the S-300PMU was deployed, the HQ-9A air defense system is now on duty.

China's missile defense

Self-propelled launchers for air defense systems HQ-9


Most experts believe that when creating the HQ-9 air defense system, which was handed over for testing at the end of the 1990's, Chinese designers borrowed technical solutions that were previously implemented in the C-300P air defense systems. At the same time, the Chinese long-range air defense system HQ-9 is not a copy of the C-300P. American experts write about the similarity of the multifunctional Chinese HT-233 radar to the AN / MPQ-53 radar, which is part of the Patriot air defense system. The first modification of the HQ-9 air defense system used command-guided missiles with radar sighting through a missile. Correction commands are transmitted aboard the rocket via a two-way radio channel with a backlight and guidance radar. The same scheme was applied to the 300B5P missiles delivered to China along with the C-55PMU. As in the S-300P family of air defense systems, the HQ-9 uses a vertical launch without first turning the launcher toward the target. The composition and principle of operation of the Chinese and Russian systems are similar. In addition to the multifunctional tracking and guidance radar, a mobile command post, the division includes the low-altitude Type 120 detector and the search Xpe 305B radar, created on the basis of the YLC-2 standby mode radar. The HQ-9 launcher is made on the Taian TA-5380 four-axle chassis and looks like Russian self-propelled 5P85CE / DE chassis.

At the moment, experts from China Academy of Defense Technology continue to improve the HQ-9 air defense system. It is stated that the upgraded HQ-9A system is capable of intercepting OTP at a distance of 30-40 km. In addition to the HQ-9 modification, the supply of which to the troops began in the 2003 year, it is known about the tests of the HQ-9В air defense system. In developing this modification, emphasis was placed on expanding anti-missile properties, with the possibility of intercepting ballistic missiles with a range of up to 500 km. The HQ-9B air defense system, which was handed over for testing in 2006, used combined-guided missiles: radio command in the middle section and infrared in the final section of the trajectory. The HQ-9С model uses long-range SAMs with an active homing radar and, thanks to the use of high-speed processors, the data processing speed and the issuance of guidance commands on modern modifications have increased several times compared to the first HQ-9 model. In the past, the PRC stated that during the firing range the Chinese HQ-9С / В air defense systems demonstrated capabilities not inferior to the Russian anti-aircraft missile system C-300ПМУ-2.


Google Earth satellite image: HQ-9 position at 20 km north of Baoji city in Shaanxi province

According to the information published in the USA by means of electronic and satellite reconnaissance, in 2018 in the PLA air defense, 16 air defense divisions HQ-9 and НQ-9А were deployed.

Limited missile defense capabilities are also provided by the HQ-16A. Western reference publications say that during the creation of this mobile anti-aircraft missile system, the latest Russian developments on medium-range military air defense systems of the Buk family were used.


Mobile launcher for air defense systems NQ-16A and prototype anti-aircraft missiles

The externally anti-aircraft missile used in the HQ-16A repeats the 9M38M1 SAM, and also has a semi-active radar guidance system. But at the same time, the Chinese complex has a vertical missile launch, is located on a wheeled chassis and is more suitable for carrying out long combat duty in a stationary position.

The HQ-16A air defense battery includes 4 launchers and a missile illumination and guidance station. The actions of the anti-aircraft batteries are controlled from the division command post, which receives information from the three-axis all-round radar. There are three fire batteries in the division. Each SPU has 6 ready-to-use anti-aircraft missiles. Thus, the total ammunition of the anti-aircraft division is 72 SAM. As of 2018, the PLA had at least four HQ-16A divisions.


The complex is capable of firing at air targets at ranges up to 70 km. The boundary of the interception of operational-tactical missiles is 20 km. In 2018, information appeared on tests of the HQ-16В air defense system with a maximum range of 120 km of aerodynamic targets and improved missile defense capabilities.

Chinese mobile ballistic missile detection radars


At the Airshow China-2018 airshow held in Zhuhai, the Chinese company China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) introduced several modern radar stations designed for the timely detection of ballistic missiles and targeting anti-ballistic systems. According to foreign experts, the most interesting are JY-27A, YLC-8B and JL-1A radars.


JY-27A radar antenna post


The mobile three-coordinate meter radar station JY-27A was created on the basis of the two-coordinate standby radar JY-27. Like the earlier JY-27A radar model, it has good detection capabilities for aircraft built using low radar signature technology. At the same time, when creating a new radar, the developers paid special attention to the possibility of detecting ballistic targets. According to advertising data, the detection range of high-altitude aerodynamic targets reaches 500 km, ballistic targets above the horizon - about 700 km. In the future, JY-27A radars should work together with the HQ-29 air defense system.

YLC-8B radar also has improved performance when working on ballistic targets. Radar with AFAR combines the traditional method of detecting mechanical scanning with two-dimensional active phased array technology.


Radar Antenna Post YLC-8B

According to a CETC representative, a YLC-8B-type station is capable of detecting virtually any aerial targets: stealth aircraft, drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. It is alleged that the detection range of cruise missiles reaches 350 km, ballistic missiles can be detected at a distance of more than 500 km.


YLC-8B radar viewing area deployed on the island of Pintan

According to American intelligence, at present, one YLC-8B radar is deployed on the island of Pintan, in the province of Fujian. This allows you to control airspace over most of Taiwan.


Google Earth satellite imagery: radar post in northwestern Pintan

The appearance and characteristics of the JL-1A radar are not known. According to information published in Chinese sources, this centimeter-range station is designed to operate as part of the HQ-19 missile defense system. It is transported on three off-road trucks and is close in its capabilities to the AN / TPY-2 radar used in the American THAAD missile defense system.

Perspective anti-missile and anti-satellite systems developed by the PRC


At present, China is developing anti-missile systems designed to intercept ballistic targets of all types: tactical, operational-tactical, small, medium and intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is known that work in this direction was started at the end of the 1980-s as part of the program known as the “863 Project”. In addition to interceptor missiles capable of fighting warheads near and far, the development of anti-satellite weapons, combat lasers, microwave and electromagnetic guns was envisaged. During the implementation of the 863 Project in China, in addition to anti-ballistic systems, a family of universal Godson processors, Tianhe supercomputers, and a manned spacecraft Shenzhou were created.

After the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2001, Beijing dramatically increased the pace of creating its own missile defense systems. In most cases, China does not voice plans and state of affairs regarding promising missile defense developments. Of the achievements in this area, it often becomes known from reports of Western intelligence agencies that monitor Chinese landfills. In this regard, it is very difficult to judge how much progress has actually been made in the PRC in creating anti-ballistic and anti-satellite weapons. According to a report released in February 2019 by the US Defense Intelligence Agency, China is actively developing anti-ballistic and anti-satellite weapons. In addition to kinetic anti-missiles intended to destroy targets by direct collision, satellites with combat lasers are being developed that can burn optoelectronic systems for observing spacecraft.

Foreign reviews of promising Chinese military developments mention the HQ-29 air defense missile system, which is considered to be an analogue of the American Patriot MIM-104F (PAC-3) air defense missile system with an ERINT anti-ballistic missile designed to destroy a ballistic missile warhead in a direct collision. Work on the HQ-29 began in the 2003 year, the first successful test took place in the 2011 year. A number of Western experts believe that the HQ-29 is an anti-aircraft missile defense system HQ-9, designed to directly protect army units from attacks by tactical and operational-tactical missiles.

Based on the HQ-9, the HQ-19 anti-missile has also been developed, designed to combat operational-tactical and medium-range ballistic missiles, as well as satellites in low orbits. In China, this system is called an analogue of THAAD. To defeat targets, it is supposed to use a kinetic warhead made of tungsten, designed for a direct hit. The course correction in the final section is carried out using miniature disposable jet engines, of which there are more than a hundred on the warhead.


Test run HQ-19

According to American data, the adoption of the HQ-19 in service may occur 2021 year. After that, a missile defense system will appear in the PLA, capable of intercepting ballistic missiles with a high probability with a launch range of up to 3000 km.


Destroyer Type 055

According to Global Security, the HQ-19 missile with an additional solid-fuel stage is used as part of the HQ-26 air defense / missile defense system, which is functionally similar to the US-based RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) US-based missile defense system. It is believed that the new generation of Type 26 destroyers will be armed with the HQ-055 missile defense system. HQ-26 can also be deployed on land.

In addition to anti-missile systems designed to intercept ballistic missiles in the descending branch of the trajectory, China is creating interceptors capable of combating ICBM warheads at a considerable distance from Chinese territory and destroying spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

On 11 on January 2007, a missile defense launched from a mobile launcher in Sichuan province, directly destroying the Chinese meteorological satellite FY-1C, which had exhausted its resource, was located 865 km from the Earth’s surface. As a result of the collision of the satellite and the interceptor, more than 2300 fragments were formed that could potentially be dangerous for other satellites.

American experts believe that the SC-19 space interceptor is a modified HQ-19 missile defense. On January 11 of 2010, during a test firing, a short-range ballistic missile was intercepted with SC-19.

On 13 on May 2013, the Dong Neng-2 (DN-2) space interceptor launched from the Sichang Cosmodrome in Sichuan. According to Global Security, a specially prepared medium-range missile DF-21 was used to put it into orbit.


Missile Test Launch DN-2

Although the experiment did not end in a collision with an object in space, Chinese officials declared it successful. In American specialized publications they write that when testing the DN-2, the possibility of destroying satellites in high geostationary orbits was tested.

In early November 2015, the US Department of Defense announced a test in China for the atmospheric interceptor missile Dong Neng-3 (DN-3). The missile launched from a mobile launcher located not far from the radar of the long-range missile detection system in the city of Korla, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The following tests of the DN-3 took place in July 2017 and in February 2018.


Missile defense DN-3 on the conveyor

According to U.S. intelligence services, the new missile is designed to intercept ballistic missile warheads and combat military satellites that perform missile defense, reconnaissance and communications missions.

Richard Fisher, senior researcher at the American Center for International Assessment and Strategy, believes that the DN-3 is capable of hitting satellites in orbits from 300 to 1000 km. When creating the DN-3 anti-missile, elements of the solid-fuel ICBM DF-31 were used. To carry out maneuvers in space, the interceptor is equipped with a Kuizhou-1 liquid engine.


The part of the DN-3 interceptor designed to destroy the target with a kinetic blow was shown during a television broadcast of Xi Jinping's visit to the research laboratory in 2011. It is noteworthy that the Chinese developers of anti-ballistic weapons refused to use "special combat units" when intercepting, and are implementing a technologically more complex method of "kinetic strike." Apparently, this is due to the fact that the Chinese military leadership wants to avoid blinding SPRN radars and failures in communication systems.

Chinese leaders in the past have repeatedly criticized the testing and deployment of anti-ballistic weapons in other states. However, this does not interfere with their own tests. After the next test launch of a missile defense, the official press organ of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China, People's Daily, issued the following statement:
“China has successfully tested its ground-based missile defense system, designed to intercept ballistic missiles on the marching section of the trajectory. The interceptor missile test is defensive in nature and is not directed against any country ... "


Against the background of the active development of missile defense systems, the position of the Chinese leadership regarding the possibility of China joining the process of reducing strategic nuclear weapons is very interesting. Despite the fact that the number and quality of the strategic nuclear forces of the PRC has never been officially announced, Chinese senior diplomats say they are ready to consider the issue of limiting their own nuclear weapons, but only when America and Russia reduce their arsenals to the Chinese level.
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