China debuts latest air defense missiles, laser at Airshow China 2022 - M5 Dergi
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China debuts latest air defense missiles, laser at Airshow China 2022

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China unveiled several of its latest air defense missile and laser systems at the Airshow China 2022 held in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province from Tuesday to Sunday, in a move experts said showed that China is building a world-class comprehensive air defense system that can safeguard the country’s sky from potential attacks.

Despite having been exhibited to the general public in the past, the HQ-9B surface-to-air missile weapon system of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force on display at the Airshow China featured for the first time a new type of missile in addition to the previously known one.

Eight of this new type of missile can be carried by the same transporter erector launcher that can carry four of the previously known type, as the new missile is about the same length but obviously thinner than the old one.

The new, smaller missiles are likely to be a part of the HQ-9B, and likely to have a shorter range than the old and larger missiles. The smaller size allows a single transporter erector launcher to carry more of them, Wei Dongxu, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times at the airshow site.

The larger missiles will be used to intercept targets farther away, and if remaining targets come closer, the smaller missiles can be used, Wei said. This will enhance the HQ-9B’s capability to deal with saturation attacks, he said.

Independently developed by China, the HQ-9B is a mid- to long-range surface-to-air missile weapon system of a new generation used to intercept cluster assaults and aerial weapons under strong electromagnetic interference, the Global Times learned at the airshow.

As China’s backbone equipment in homeland air defense and anti-missile combat, it can cover a large area with dense firepower and good anti-jamming capabilities.

The HQ-9B is also available for export under the name of HQ-9BE, which was also displayed at the Airshow China 2022.

Another new air defense system, the HQ-11 universal terminal defense system, made its debut at the airshow. It consists of a vehicle equipped with eight missile vertical launch cells and another vehicle equipped with a close-in gun. Both vehicles are equipped with corresponding radar systems.

Wei said that the HQ-11 is designed to cover a shorter range than the HQ-9B, but it is very fast and mobile so that it can accompany valuable assets on the move. It is like putting a vessel-based air defense system onto the land.

The Global Times learned that another highlight of the HQ-11 is its universality, as it can be used not only by the PLA Air Force, but also the Army and the Navy. It can intercept air-to-surface missiles, guided bombs, cruise missiles and other aerial weapons like fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

China also for the first time unveiled its fourth-generation advanced air defense equipment, the HQ-16FE mid- to long-range air defense missile weapon system. Developed by the Eighth Academy of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the system’s transporter erector launcher can carry six missiles at a time.

The HQ-16FE can intercept multiple types of targets including manned aircraft, drones, cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles in a very intelligent and aggressive manner.

Compared with its predecessors, the HQ-16FE has a longer range and a stronger anti-deception capability, the Global Times learned from its maker.

Together with the air defense missiles, a type of vehicle-mounted tactical laser weapon of the PLA Air Force also made its debut at the airshow. It is a new type of combat force that targets low, slow, small targets like drones.

It engages targets at the speed of light, is highly precise, can control its damage output, has low operational cost and can conduct missions extensively. It can either operate alone or form a network of multiple vehicles, or become a part of a larger air defense weapon system, the Global Times learned at the airshow.

The air defense systems displayed by the PLA Air Force at the Airshow China 2022 showed that China’s air defense weapons no longer rely on imports and have started to switch to domestically developed independent innovations, which are becoming world-class, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday.

Under potential threats from the spears such as stealth aircraft, drones and missiles, China will continue to build shields in the form of air defense systems to safeguard its sky, the expert said.

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