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China Gearing up to Export HQ-9 Anti-Air Missiles

December 2/16: The Iraqi government is reportedly set to finalize a deal external link to buy the HQ-9 external link long-range surface-to-air missile system from China. Valued at $2.5 billion, Baghdad is expected to finance the acquisition using credit from China, and paid for in installments of $833 million. The deal may also include Type 99 tanks and other Chinese military equipment.

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HQ-9 launcher (click to view full) Kanwa Asian Defense reports that the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation has put CASIC’s HQ-9 surface-to-air missile on the export market, under the name FD-2000. “Brochures advertising China’s latest missile appeared at the most recent African Ground Force Equipment Exhibition in Cape Town, South Africa and also at the Defense Exhibition in Karachi, Pakistan last November.” The Chinese Air Force has already deployed the HQ-9 at its bases in the north-central provinces of Xi’an and Lanzhou. A brigade reportedly contains a command vehicle, six control vehicles, 6 targeting radar vehicles, 6 search-radar vehicles, 48 missile-launch vehicles, and 192 missiles; plus a positioning vehicle, a communications vehicle, a power supply vehicle and a support vehicle. A battalion reportedly contains 8 missile launch vehicles. The HongQi-9/FD-2000 reportedly combines elements “borrowed” from Russia’s S-300 and America’s MIM-104 Patriot… S-300PMU2 Favorit radar & launchers (click to view full) SinoDefense reports that the HQ-9 uses a ‘Track-Via-Missile’ (TVM) terminal guidance system that is similar to the Patriot’s, but the state of China’s solid rocket technology has forced the use of a much larger missiles. The final missile reportedly uses elements of the S-300’s solid rocket, aerodynamic layout, gas-dynamic spoilers, […]
HQ-9

HQ-9 launcher
(click to view full)

Kanwa Asian Defense reports that the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation has put CASIC’s HQ-9 surface-to-air missile on the export market, under the name FD-2000. “Brochures advertising China’s latest missile appeared at the most recent African Ground Force Equipment Exhibition in Cape Town, South Africa and also at the Defense Exhibition in Karachi, Pakistan last November.”

The Chinese Air Force has already deployed the HQ-9 at its bases in the north-central provinces of Xi’an and Lanzhou. A brigade reportedly contains a command vehicle, six control vehicles, 6 targeting radar vehicles, 6 search-radar vehicles, 48 missile-launch vehicles, and 192 missiles; plus a positioning vehicle, a communications vehicle, a power supply vehicle and a support vehicle. A battalion reportedly contains 8 missile launch vehicles.

The HongQi-9/FD-2000 reportedly combines elements “borrowed” from Russia’s S-300 and America’s MIM-104 Patriot…

ORD_SAM_S-300PMU2_Favorit.jpg

S-300PMU2 Favorit
radar & launchers
(click to view full)

SinoDefense reports that the HQ-9 uses a ‘Track-Via-Missile’ (TVM) terminal guidance system that is similar to the Patriot’s, but the state of China’s solid rocket technology has forced the use of a much larger missiles. The final missile reportedly uses elements of the S-300’s solid rocket, aerodynamic layout, gas-dynamic spoilers, and launcher technologies, as well as some search and guidance systems. There have also been accusations that Israel transferred some elements of Patriot technology to China in the early 1990s. Israel has denied this, however, and some of the benefits one might expect do not appear to have materialized. Among other things, the HQ-9’s deployment patterns suggest second-tier status within China itself, compared to alternatives like advanced Russian S-300 family surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems.

Kanwa offers statistics and information about the HQ-9 that differentiates it from the FT-2000 radar killer missile, which is often described as an HQ-9 variant. Kanwa believes that this description is incorrect.

With respect to market positioning, the HQ-9/FD-2000 missile’s range of 125 km against aircraft is shorter than Russia’s S-300 PMU1 with its 150km range, or the S-300 PMU2 with its 200 km reach. According to Kanwa, the HQ-9’s effective engagement envelope rises 27,000 m/ 88,600 feet, dropping to 50 km range and 18,000m/ 59,000 feet against incoming air-ground missiles, 15 km range against ground-hugging cruise missiles, and 25 km at up to 15,000m/ 49,200 feet against ballistic missiles.

HongQi9’s range against conventional air targets exceeds America’s Patriot system, and may be more comparable to its THAAD theater-level defense system. That reach is also slightly longer than the original S-300 missile (SA-10), and MBDA’s new Aster-30 SAMP/T.

There has been some question about the HQ-9’s radars, and overall performance will not equal that of America’s THAAD, Europe’s SAMP/T, or Russia’s newer S-300 or S-400 variants (SA-20). Customers shopping for high-end solutions will choose one of those options instead, and China is an example. They depend on more advanced S-300 variants from Russia for front-line deployments.

ORD SAM Akash Exhibit

Akash SAM exhibit
(click to view full)

To the extent that China enjoys export successes, it will depend on customers who are looking for high mid-range air defense performance at a low to mid-range price. That orientation will put it on a competitive collision course with India’s much shorter range Akash system, as well as the MR-SAM project under joint development by India and Israel.

Akash is likely to find itself shut out of the export market by this superior Chinese alternative. The MR-SAM project is far more likely to result in a competitive design, but may offer the Chinese product a number of opportunities due to self-imposed export restrictions that the Chinese do not share.

In terms of the larger strategic context, exported HQ-9 systems can be expected to give added impetus to an existing trend. The steady proliferation of relatively advanced air defense systems to 3rd world militaries has already become something of a concern to the USA, whose 1980s generation fighters will find it challenging to deal with them on even terms. Depending on the HQ-9’s export pricing, that trend may soon extend to a number of lower-tier militaries, extending existing challenges to American air dominance.

Update

December 2/16: The Iraqi government is reportedly set to finalize a deal to buy the HQ-9 long-range surface-to-air missile system from China. Valued at $2.5 billion, Baghdad is expected to finance the acquisition using credit from China, and paid for in installments of $833 million. The deal may also include Type 99 tanks and other Chinese military equipment.

Additional Readings

* Sino Defence – HongQi 9 Surface-to-Air Missile System

* GlobalSecurity – HQ-9

* GlobalSecurity – S-300PMU2 Favorit SA-20 GARGOYLE

* DID FOCUS – THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles

* DID FOCUS – India’s IGMP Missile Programs. Includes Akash.

* DID Spotlight – India & Israel Introducing MR-SAM

* UPI Asia (March 6/09) – China offers HQ-9 SAM for export

* Aviation.com (Aug 7/08) – Israel’s Red Line: The S-300 Missile System Refers to the more advanced SA-20 variants; the earlier variants are SA-10.

* International Assessment and Strategy Center (Feb 25/06) – Almaz S-300 – China’s “Offensive” Air Defense

* NewsMax (July 9/02) – China’s Multi-level Air Defense Network

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