In the XNUMXst century, the People's Republic of China, against the backdrop of impressive economic successes, has become one of the most militarily powerful countries. Simultaneously with the reform of the PLA and equipping the ground forces with new equipment and weapons, much attention is paid to the development of high-tech combat arms: the fleet, aviation, nuclear deterrent and air defense.
With large-scale financial injections into research and training, China has created its own design and engineering school, capable of independently solving the problems of creating high-strength materials, rocket fuels, radar equipment and control systems. Recently, China has adopted new air defense systems, many of which have significant export potential.
The first Chinese anti-aircraft missile system to be exported was HQ-2 (HongQi-2, Hongqi-2, Red Banner 2). The HQ-2 air defense system was created on the basis of the HQ-1 air defense system, which, in turn, was copied from the SA-75 Dvina air defense system. The main difference between the HQ-2 and the previous model was that the missile guidance station operated in the 6-centimeter frequency range (the HQ-1, like the CA-75, operated in the 10-centimeter range), which provided better noise immunity and higher guidance accuracy missiles.
The emergence of the HQ-2 air defense system was largely ensured by the successes of the Chinese intelligence, which managed to gain access to the Soviet S-75 Desna and C-75M Volga air defense systems delivered to Egypt. There is information that in exchange for Chinese weapon and a large amount in dollars, at least one SNR-75M guidance station and a batch of 13D and 20D anti-aircraft missiles were delivered to China.
Tests of the first version of the HQ-2 air defense system have been conducted since 1967 at the Jiuquan missile range. However, only after getting acquainted with the Soviet air defense systems and copying a number of technical solutions, the HQ-2 complex was able to demonstrate the characteristics that satisfied the Chinese military. The missile guidance station has undergone major changes. In addition to new electronic units with other vacuum tubes, more compact antennas appeared, which no longer required the use of cranes to roll up and deploy. In fact, Chinese specialists repeated the path traveled before by Soviet designers and used ready-made missiles from the HQ-1 complex, adapting new radio command equipment to them.
The HQ-2 air defense system was put into service and began to enter the troops in the first half of the 1970s. However, due to the "cultural revolution" and the resulting general drop in the technological level of production, the reliability of the first HQ-2 complexes was low. It was possible to achieve acceptable reliability and catch up with the S-75 Desna air defense system in terms of basic characteristics on the HQ-2A modification, which was put into service in 1978.
The Chinese clone of the Soviet "seventy-five" has long been the backbone of the PLA's air defense forces. Serial production of the HQ-2 air defense system continued until the late 1980s, and anti-aircraft missiles until the second half of the 1990s. In terms of its characteristics, the Chinese complex as a whole corresponded to the Soviet models with a 10-15-year delay.
Since there were no medium-range military complexes in the PRC, the PLA command demanded the creation of a highly mobile air defense system based on the HQ-2A. The main way to increase the mobility of the HQ-2V air defense system, which was put into service in 1986, was the introduction of the WXZ 204 self-propelled launcher, created on the basis of a light tank Type 63.
All other elements of the HQ-2V air defense system were towed. For this modification, a more anti-jamming guidance station and a missile with a launch range of up to 40 km and a minimum affected area of 7 km were developed.
Despite some improvement in characteristics, the HQ-2V air defense system cannot be considered a full-fledged military complex. First of all, this is due to the fact that it is impossible to move even on highways with a fully equipped rocket at high speed and for a considerable distance. As you know, anti-aircraft missiles with liquid-propellant rocket engines in a fueled state are quite delicate products that are categorically contraindicated in significant shock and vibration loads. Even minor mechanical influences can lead to loss of tightness of the tanks, which is fraught with the most sad consequences for the calculation. Therefore, placing a launcher of S-75 missiles on a tracked chassis does not make much sense. The presence of a self-propelled launcher, of course, somewhat reduces the deployment time, but the mobility of the complex as a whole does not dramatically increase.
The position of the SAM HQ-2J
As a result, having suffered with self-propelled tracked launchers, the Chinese abandoned the mass production of the HQ-2B air defense system in favor of the HQ-2J, on which all elements were towed. According to information presented at international arms exhibitions, the probability of being hit by one missile in the absence of organized interference for the HQ-2J air defense system is 92%. Thanks to the introduction of the CHP SJ-202В with an additional target channel in the working sector of the guidance radar, it became possible to simultaneously fire on two targets with up to four missiles guided at them.
In the PRC, more than 120 HQ-2 air defense systems of various modifications and about 5000 missiles were built. More than 30 divisions have been exported to the Chinese allies. Chinese clones of "seventy-five" were supplied to Albania, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Sudan. The Chinese-made HQ-2 air defense systems took part in hostilities during the Sino-Vietnamese conflict in 1979 and 1984, and were also actively used by Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. Albania was the only NATO country where, until 2014, Chinese anti-aircraft systems with Soviet roots were in service.
Google Earth satellite image: HQ-2 air defense system position in the vicinity of Islamabad
Currently, the HQ-2J air defense systems are operated in the DPRK and Pakistan. Iran has launched the production of Sayyad-1 SAM systems for Chinese-made complexes.
Iranian SAM Sayyad-1 on TZM during the parade
The HQ-2 air defense system became the first Chinese medium-range air defense system to be exported. In the 1980s, this air defense system in the world arms market was to some extent a competitor to the widespread Soviet anti-aircraft system S-75. However, the deliveries of Chinese air defense systems were mainly carried out to countries that, for various reasons, could not receive Soviet weapons. This primarily concerns Albania and Pakistan. Iran and Sudan acquired the Chinese HQ-2 out of a desire to establish cooperation with the PRC, and North Korea received the HQ-2 air defense system free of charge within the framework of military assistance and operates them in parallel with the C-75.
Although the improvement of the HQ-2J air defense systems in service in the PRC continued in the 21st century, it became clear to specialists long ago that the complex, based on technical solutions half a century ago, has no particular prospects. The main disadvantage of the S-75 family of air defense systems and its Chinese clones is the use of liquid-propellant jet missiles, which use explosive and corrosive components, handling them requires special safety measures and protective equipment. Although the SJ-2В CHP has been introduced on some of the Chinese HQ-202J complexes, which makes it possible to simultaneously aim several missiles at two targets, in the anti-aircraft missile battalion on launchers there are still six ready-to-use missiles. That, given the relatively small launch range for a missile of this dimension, by modern standards, it is completely insufficient.
In this regard, in the late 1970s of the last century, China began the development of a medium-range anti-aircraft missile system with solid-propellant missiles, which was supposed to replace the outdated HQ-2. However, the creation of a solid-fuel anti-aircraft missile with the same range and altitude as that of the HQ-2 air defense system turned out to be a very difficult task. The first prototype, known as the KS-1, was presented to the general public in 1994. At the same time, in conjunction with solid-propellant radio command missiles, the SJ-202В missile guidance station was used, which was part of the modernized HQ-2J air defense system. However, the characteristics of this air defense system turned out to be lower than planned, and there were no orders for it from the Chinese military.
Guidance station and mobile launchers of air defense missile systems HQ-12
Only 30 years after the start of development, the Chinese anti-aircraft missile forces received the first HQ-12 (KS-1A) air defense systems. The main difference was a new multifunctional radar with AFAR N-200 with a detection range of up to 120 km and a missile with a semi-active radar seeker. The HQ-12 anti-aircraft missile division includes a missile detection and guidance radar, four mobile launchers, which have a total of 8 ready-to-use missiles and 6 transport-loading vehicles with 24 missiles.
Launcher SAM HQ-12
As part of the HQ-12 air defense system, an anti-aircraft missile weighing 900 kg is used, capable of hitting air targets at a range of 7-45 km. The height of the targets hit is 0,5-20 km. Maximum target speed - 750 m / s, overload - 5 g. The guidance station provides simultaneous shelling of three targets with six missiles. The improved modification of the KS-1C has a maximum firing range of up to 65 km, a defeat height of 25 km. This complex uses the SJ-212 multifunctional radar. Currently, the air defense forces of the PRC have at least 20 anti-aircraft batteries HQ-12.
Although the HQ-12 air defense system no longer fully meets modern requirements, Thailand (KS-1C) and Myanmar (KS-1A) became the buyers of this complex.
It is reported that with the assistance of Chinese specialists in Myanmar, licensed production of the KS-1M modification with the locally produced GYD-1B SAM has been established. As of 2019, the Myanmar armed forces had six KS-1A batteries and one KS-1M battery, according to reference data.
Thai launcher SAM KS-1C
Thailand uses the KS-1C air defense system to protect the Surat Thani airbase, located near the Gulf of Thailand. This airbase hosts the JAS-39C / D Gripen fighters and the Saab 340 AEW & C AWACS aircraft. Initially, the Chinese FD-2000 long-range air defense system was the subject of negotiations, but financial constraints forced Thailand to purchase a less expensive air defense system.
In early August 2020, it became known that Serbia had decided to purchase three batteries of the Chinese anti-aircraft complex FK-3, which is an export modification of the HQ-22 air defense system. In turn, the HQ-22 air defense system is an improved version of the HQ-12 with the SJ-231 radar and longer-range missiles.
Mobile launcher SAM NQ-22
According to Chinese advertising materials, the HQ-22 air defense system is capable of fighting aerodynamic targets at a distance of more than 120 km. The height of the defeat is 50-27000 m. The firing range of the export version of the FK-3 does not exceed 100 kilometers, the altitude parameters are similar to that of the HQ-22 system. The battery, in which there are three self-propelled launchers, is capable of simultaneously firing twelve missiles at six targets.
It is known that in 2018 Serbia probed the soil regarding the possible delivery of S-400 air defense systems, but this information has not yet been officially confirmed by either Belgrade or Moscow. Apparently, the main reason for Serbia's acquisition of the Chinese FK-3 air defense system was its relatively low cost and the desire to avoid the imposition of American sanctions for the purchase of Russian weapons.
In the early 1990s, China was a major importer of Russian air defense systems. In 1993, the PRC received four divisional sets of S-300PMU air defense systems. The S-300PMU anti-aircraft missile system is an export version of the S-300PS with towed launchers. In terms of firing range and the number of targets fired simultaneously, the S-300PMU air defense system was many times superior to the Chinese HQ-2J air defense system. An important factor was that the 5V55P solid-propellant missiles did not require maintenance for 10 years. Control firing at the "Site No. 72" firing range in the desert region of Gansu province in northwestern China made a great impression on the Chinese military leadership, after which it was decided to sign a new contract. In 1994, another Russian-Chinese agreement was signed for the purchase of 8 divisions of the improved S-300PMU-1 (export version of the S-300PM air defense system).
Firing practice S-300PMU-1 during an exercise at a training ground in Gansu province in August 2018
In 2003, China expressed its intention to purchase the improved S-300PMU-2 anti-aircraft systems (export version of the S-300PM2 air defense system). The first divisions were delivered to the customer in 2007. With the adoption of the S-300PMU-2, the PLA's air defense forces received limited capabilities to intercept operational-tactical ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 40 km.
Russian-made air defense system S-300PMU-2 at the test site in Gansu province
According to data published in open sources, the PRC delivered: 4 S-300PMU missiles, 8 S-300PMU-1 missiles and 12 S-300PMU-2 missiles. Moreover, each divisional kit included 6 launchers. In total, China has acquired 24 S-300PMU / PMU-1 / PMU-2 divisions with 144 launchers. Taking into account that the assigned resource of the S-300PMU is 25 years, the first "three hundred" delivered to the PRC should have already completed their life cycle. The production of missiles of the 5V55 (B-500) family ceased more than 15 years ago, and the guaranteed shelf life in a sealed TPK is 10 years. Taking into account the fact that China did not submit applications for refurbishment and extension of the service life of the S-300PMU air defense system, four divisions received in 1993 with a high degree of probability have already been removed from combat duty. However, taking into account the pragmatism of the Chinese, it can be assumed that the radar equipment supplied with the S-300PMU air defense system will be used together with other Russian or Chinese-made anti-aircraft systems. The 36D6 combat mode radar and the 5N66M low-altitude detector installed on a universal mobile tower, with timely routine maintenance, can be operated for about another 10 years.
In April 2015, it became known that China and Russia had signed a contract for the purchase of S-400 systems. At the beginning of 2020, information was published that Russia had fulfilled its obligations under the contract for the supply of two regimental sets (4 zrdn) of S-400 air defense systems to the PRC. Apparently, we are talking about self-propelled launchers, radar equipment, mobile command posts, power and auxiliary equipment. In July 2020, the Sohu publication reported that Russia had partially delivered the ordered anti-aircraft missiles. Formally, this was due to the difficulties caused by the outbreak of coronavirus infection.
A number of media outlets wrote in the past that the Russian S-400 air defense systems should replace the S-300PMU, which have served their time. This is partly true, but it should be understood that at the time of the delivery of the first modification of the "75" to China, the PLA had nothing better than the Chinese version of the C-400 air defense system. More than a quarter of a century has passed since then, and the PRC has long created its own very effective medium and long-range anti-aircraft missile systems. It is quite obvious that the purchase of four S-XNUMX divisions (which is very little by Chinese standards) is mainly related to the desire to get acquainted in detail with modern Russian air defense systems.
Almost immediately after the S-300PMU appeared at the disposal of the PLA air defense forces, work began in the PRC to create its own air defense system of the same class. However, one should not think that long-range anti-aircraft missile systems with solid-propellant missiles were an absolutely unknown topic for Chinese specialists. By the end of the 80s, there were developments in China for effective formulations of solid rocket fuel, and cooperation with Western firms made it possible to promote electronics. Chinese intelligence made a significant contribution. In the West, it is generally accepted that when creating the HQ-9 air defense system, a lot was borrowed from the MIM-104 Patriot long-range air defense system. So, American experts write about the similarity of the multifunctional Chinese radar HT-233 with the AN / MPQ-53, which is part of the Patriot air defense system. At the same time, there is no doubt that a number of technical solutions were spotted by the designers of the China Academy of Defense Technology in the Soviet S-300P system. The first modification of the HQ-9 air defense system used command-guided missiles with radar sighting through the missile. Correction commands are transmitted to the missile board via a two-way radio channel by a radar for illumination and guidance. The same scheme was applied to the 300V5R missiles delivered to the PRC together with the S-55PMU.
Multifunctional radar HT-233 and SPU anti-aircraft missile system HQ-9
The Chinese leadership spared no resources to create its own long-range anti-aircraft system, and in 1997, the first pre-production model was presented to the general public. Officially, the characteristics of the HQ-9 air defense system were not announced. Apparently, initially, the HQ-9 was inferior in its characteristics to the S-300PMU-1 / PMU-2 air defense systems purchased in Russia.
Model SAM FD-2000
In the early 2000s, during aerospace shows and weapons exhibitions, the characteristics of the export version of the FD-2000, which uses an anti-aircraft missile weighing 1300 kg, with a warhead weight of 180 kg, were announced. Firing range: 6-120 km (for the HQ-9A modification - up to 200 km). Altitude reach: 500-25000 m. The maximum missile speed is 4,2 M. According to the developer, the system is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles at a range of up to 25 km. The deployment time from the march is about 6 minutes, the reaction time is 12-15 seconds.
Currently, the improvement of the HQ-9 air defense system is actively continuing. In addition to the modernized HQ-9A anti-aircraft system, which was put into service in 2001 and is being serially built, it is known about the tests of the HQ-9B with extended anti-missile properties, which allows intercepting ballistic missiles with a firing range of up to 500 km. This anti-aircraft system, tested in 2006, uses infrared-guided missiles at the end of the trajectory. The HQ-9C model uses extended-range missiles with an active radar seeker. Also, a missile was introduced into the ammunition, aiming at a source of radar radiation, which is designed to combat AWACS and electronic warfare aircraft. Chinese representatives said that thanks to the use of high-speed processors, the data processing speed and the issuance of guidance commands on modern modifications compared to the first model HQ-9 increased several times. According to information published by the official Chinese media, during the range firing, the Chinese HQ-9C / B air defense systems demonstrated capabilities that are not inferior to the Russian S-300PMU-2 anti-aircraft missile system.
According to information published in the United States, obtained by means of radio and satellite reconnaissance, in 2020, the PLA air defense forces have at least 20 HQ-9 air defense battalions. In this case, no breakdown by modification is provided. Western experts believe that the anti-aircraft systems built over the past 10-12 years are currently in operation. The PRC claims that thanks to the progress achieved in the creation of new materials and alloys, the development of compact high-speed electronics and solid rocket fuel with high energy characteristics, Chinese specialists have managed to create and launch into serial production an anti-aircraft missile system that meets the highest standards. Of course, if the latest modifications of the HQ-9 air defense system were superior to the S-400 in their characteristics, then the contract for the purchase of the Russian system would never have been concluded. At the same time, it should be recognized that very substantial investments in research and training, while actively copying advanced foreign developments, have made it possible to create a number of modern Chinese anti-aircraft missile systems.
In addition to saturating the PLA anti-aircraft missile units with modern equipment and weapons, Chinese air defense systems are actively moving to the foreign market. The FD-2000 system was actively talked about in 2013, when this export model of the HQ-9 air defense system unexpectedly became the winner in a tender announced by Turkey. All manufacturers of long-range air defense systems took part in the T-LORAMIDS competition (Turkish Long Range Air And Missile Defense System, "Turkey's long-range air and missile defense system"). Applications were submitted by the European consortium Eurosam with SAMP / T air defense systems (with the Aster 30 Block 1 missile defense system), the alliance of American companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon (a combination of PAC-2 GMT and PAC-3), Rosoboronexport with the S-300VM air defense system Antey-2500 »And the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC) with the FD-2000 system.
Apparently, a very attractive price became the guarantee of victory for the Chinese FD-2000 air defense system (export version of HQ-9). At the time of summing up the results of the tender, the cost of 12 divisions was $ 3,44 billion. At the same time, the United States offered Turkey 12 Patriot anti-aircraft batteries for $ 7,8 billion. However, in 2015, the results of the tender were actually canceled, and the competition was restarted. The Turkish side did not give an official explanation on this matter. A number of sources say that, in addition to pressure from the United States, the reason for the rejection of the deal was the reluctance of the PRC to grant a license for the production of key elements of the system and anti-aircraft missiles. Apparently, Turkey hoped, with the help of China, to enter the elite club of manufacturers of modern air defense and missile defense systems.
However, this setback did not discourage Chinese importers. It is known that the buyers of the export modifications of the HQ-9 air defense system were Morocco (4 mark), Uzbekistan (1 mark) and Algeria (4 mark). In the past, Venezuela and Turkmenistan have been actively interested in Chinese long-range systems. But after Caracas received a loan of two divisions of the S-300VM Antey-2500 air defense system, negotiations with Beijing on this topic were terminated. The situation with Turkmenistan is not clear. A number of sources claim that this country has acquired two divisions, which are intended to replace the outdated S-200VM long-range air defense systems. But there is no official confirmation of the delivery of the HQ-9 air defense system to Ashgabat.
During the IDEAS 2014 arms exhibition, Pakistani representatives announced the purchase by Islamabad of three LY-80 air defense systems and eight IBIS-150 radars worth $ 265,77 million. In 2015, information on the purchase of three more LY-80 batteries was announced. Armament experts believe that new mobile anti-aircraft systems should replace the outdated Chinese-made HQ-2J air defense systems in Pakistan and strengthen the capabilities of Pakistani air defense in a possible confrontation with India.
The LY-80 anti-aircraft missile system is an export version of the Chinese HQ-16A air defense system. In March 2017, Pakistani representatives announced that all delivered LY-80 air defense systems are ready to be on alert. In January 2019, during the two-week military exercises "Al-Bayza", a training and control launch of the LY-80 missile was carried out.
The piquancy of the situation lies in the fact that when creating the HQ-16 air defense system, Russian developments were used on anti-aircraft complexes of the Buk family. China first recognized the existence of the HQ-16 in 2011. The serial modification, in which the identified shortcomings were eliminated following the results of military tests, received the designation HQ-16A.
Mobile launcher SAM HQ-16A and the layout of the SAM
The anti-aircraft missile used in the HQ-16A externally has a lot in common with the 9M38M1 missile defense system, and it also uses a semi-active radar guidance system, but at the same time, a vertical missile launch is implemented in the Chinese air defense system. All elements of the HQ-16A are located on a wheeled chassis, and this complex, by all indications, refers to the object air defense system and is adapted to carry long combat duty in a stationary position.
According to information published in open sources, the HQ-16 air defense system originally had a firing range of up to 40 km. A rocket weighing 615 kg and a length of 5,2 m after launch accelerates to 1200 m / s. Serial SAM HQ-16A can intercept an air target flying at an altitude of 15 m to 18 km. The probability of hitting one SAM for cruise missiles flying at an altitude of 50 meters at a speed of 300 m / s is 0,6, for a MiG-21 type target at the same speed and height of 3-7 km - 0,85. In the improved version of the HQ-16B, the maximum launch range against subsonic targets flying in the altitude range of 7-12 km has been increased to 70 km. The HQ-16A air defense system battery includes a missile illumination and guidance station and 4 self-propelled launchers. Each launcher has 6 ready-to-use anti-aircraft missiles. Thus, the total ammunition load of the anti-aircraft battalion is 72 missiles. The operations of the anti-aircraft batteries are controlled from the divisional command post, where information is received from the IBIS-150 three-dimensional all-round radar.
Air target detection station IBIS-150
Mobile radar with HEADLIGHTS IBIS-150 is capable of seeing a fighter-type target at a range of 140 km and an altitude of up to 20 km. The radar IBIS-150 can detect up to 144 and track up to 48 targets simultaneously. The guidance station of the HQ-16A air defense missile system is capable of tracking targets at a range of up to 80 km, simultaneously tracking 6 targets and firing at 4 of them, aiming two missiles at each. In total, the division has three fire batteries. Foreign observers note that conceptually the HQ-16 air defense system resembles the Russian S-350 medium-range complex or the South Korean KM-SAM.
In 2016, the HQ-16V air defense system with an increased firing range was presented. Also in the Chinese media published information that for use as part of the HQ-16 air defense system, a missile defense system with an increased body diameter has been developed. Due to this, the accelerating characteristics of the rocket were increased, and the maximum range of destruction of aerodynamic targets was brought to 120 km. According to the US Department of Defense, at least 2020 divisions of the HQ-5A / B air defense missile system can be deployed in the PRC as of 16. Currently, the Chinese military, without taking into account the outdated HQ-2J air defense systems, has about 120 medium and long-range anti-aircraft systems, which is not much less than the number of systems of a similar purpose available in Russia.
From all of the above, it follows that the Chinese industry is able to provide the PLA with the entire line of medium and long-range anti-aircraft missile systems. In addition, recently, China has begun to actively compete with Russia on the global arms market in the segment of anti-aircraft systems. For our country, the situation is aggravated by the fact that the buyers of Chinese air defense systems for the most part in the past were focused on Soviet-style weapons, and, as a rule, for one reason or another, they were deprived of the opportunity to acquire modern anti-aircraft missile systems manufactured in the USA or NATO countries.