China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) late last September formally disclosed that the HQ-9 (export designation FD-2000) and HQ-16 new-generation long-range surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM) systems had been inducted into service by the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) and the PLA Navy (PLAN), respectively. Developed by the China Academy of Defence Technology (also known as CASIC’s 2nd Academy), the HQ-9 and HQ-16N have a range of 100km. The HQ-9’s cannisterised missiles are carried in groups of four on the back of wheeled TAS-5380 8 x 8 transport-erector-launcher (TEL). Target prosecution is handled by the HT-233 passive phased-array radar system, mounted on a wheeled 8 x 8 chassis. Firing trials of the HQ-9 were conducted at the Shuangchengzi SAM test range located in north-central China in 2008. The HQ-9’s and HQ-16N’s series-production is presently taking place at a facility located southwest of Beijing. A typical HQ-9 site includes a raised central berm for the HT-233 engagement radar, surrounded by four prepared pads upon which the LR-SAM’s TELs are deployed. A pad is located next to the HT-233’s berm for housing power-generators and command-and-control facilities. A circular path surrounds the main complex, containing the TEL pads and the engagement radar position. A second raised berm is situated outside this circular path to mount a JL-3D-90A early warning radar.
The HQ-9’s two-stage HQF-91 missile is ‘cold-launched’ vertically from a tubular launcher. The missile’s first stage has a diameter of 700mm while the second stage has a diameter of 560mm. The total launch mass is 2 tonnes, while the missile’s length is 9 metres. It is armed with a 180kg HE fragmentation warhead and has a maximum speed of Mach 4.2. Also operational on board the PLA Navy’s two Type 052C guided-missile destroyers (DDG 170 Lanzhou and DDG 171 Haikou, plus six more under construction) as part of the HQ-16N, the HQF-91 has a slant range of 125km and a service ceiling of 30km. The missile’s proximity fuze has an effective range of 35 metres, which goes active when the missile is 35 metres away from its target. A total of 48 HQF-91s are housed in and launched from eight 6-cell vertical launch systems (VLS) on board each of the two DDGs. The HQF-91’s guidance mechanism comprises initial inertial navigation, radio command mid-course correction, and active terminal guidance. When in range for an effective lock-on with the on-board X-band monopulse radar, the terminal guidance phase, lasting 20km, gets underway. The HQF-91 has been developed to specifically counter incoming intermediate-range /tactical ballistic missiles and supersonic anti-ship missiles, and is therefore not cost-effective if deployed to counter only manned combat aircraft. For naval target tracking and engagement, the Jiangsu Province-based Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology (NRIET, but also more commonly known as the 14th Institute) has developed the shipborne Type 348 S-band multi-function passive phased-array radar with four distributed antenna arrays, each of which has a maximum range of 450km, a maximum resolution of 0.5 metres, and can scan a 0-120-degree arc in azimuth and 0-90 degrees in elevation, with a peak power output on 1mWe.
To reduce the HQ-9’s vulnerability to anti-radiation precision-guided munitions, the China National Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp (CPMIEC) has developed an innovative solution, called FT-2000, which employs a passive homing-all-the-way variant of the HQF-91 LR-SAM, which operates in conjunction with a ground-based DWL-002 passive surveillance system (PSS), which has been developed by CETC International Co Ltd. The FT-2000 is launched from an 8 x 8 TEL carrying four missile tube launchers. The missile can home on the target autonomously at 1,200metres/second while sustaining a 14 G overload. The FT-2000 has a built-in inertial navigation system, so that whenever it has acquired a lock-on, it will continue towards the target even if the emitter is shut down, although the missile's accuracy would seriously degrade in this case. The DWL-002 uses four ground-based ESM sensor posts, each of which are mounted on 6 x 6 wheeled vehicles and can together track 50 airborne targets simultaneously. The ESM sensor posts are deployed at a distance 30km from each other and 80km ahead of a deployed HQ-9 Regiment, while the FT-2000’s missile launchers are deployed near the central ESM sensor station at a distance of 150 metres. The moment a hostile airborne standoff jammer is detected and localised in near-real time by the DWL-002, a single FT-2000 launcher (carrying four vertically-launched HQF-91 LR-SAMs equipped with a passive anti-radiation homing seeker) launches a missile, whose on-board seeker has already been locked-on to the jamming source prior to missile launch. This missile thus acts as a ‘homing all-the-way killer’ and dramatically increases the engagement footprint of a LR-SAM-based air defence network by a factor of 2.5, or 25,000 sq km. Consequently, when employed along with the FT-2000, the HQ-9’s kill probability shoots up to 98% especially if two HQF-91s are ripple-fired against an airborne target (that is, if it survives a direct hit from the FT-2000’s LR-SAMs).
Accompanying the land-mobile HQ-9 LR-SAM SAM batteries are the RWE-1 radio-frequency band active missile approach warning system (MAWS) and CETC-built TS-504 tactical digital troposcatter communications systems. The MAWS is used for protecting LR-SAM batteries from attack by high-speed anti-radiation missiles, and is employed to trigger emitter shutdown and activation of active emitting decoys. The MAWS has a detection range of 40km/21.6nm. DF capability is via amplitude comparison between channels, providing 10-degree DF accuracy, adequate for cueing decoys, or cueing point-defence weapons to acquire, track and engage the inbound missiles. The TS-504 tactical digital troposcatter communication system is deployed extensively to support LR-SAM batteries by providing digital connectivity to the integrated air defence network.
For point-defence of the HQ-9 battery, the Yi Tian wheeled self-propelled very short-range air defence system (VSHORADS) is employed. The system uses the WMZ-551 6 x 6 wheeled armoured fighting vehicle on which there is a mast mounted Type-120 rotating planar-array low-probability-of-intercept (LPI) radar. Against a helicopter or non-stealth attack aircraft the radar provides surveillance out to 18km, tracking at 12km, and engagement at 10km. Against an inbound cruise missile the surveillance range drops to 8km. with the missile firing at 6km from an oncoming target. The eight SAMs are carried by a 4 x 4 vehicle carrying two square quad box launchers each containing a FB-6A short-range missile, plus a fire-control system comprising a CCD day/night sight, thermal imaging sight, and a laser rangefinder. The FB-6A can intercept a target with a maximum speed of 400 metres/second (1,440kph) and the reaction time is given as 8 seconds. A Yi Tian air-defence battalion comprises a battalion headquarters and three self-supporting air defence companies.—Prasun K. Sengupta