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Air Defense: Olympic Efforts
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June 30, 2008: Chinese made Hongqi 7 surface-to-air self-propelled missile systems have been spotted in Beijing, stationed near major venues for the imminent Summer Olympics. The sky above is restricted air-space, so the missile crews don't have to worry about what's a legitimate target. Anything up there is a target, except for a few news helicopters used by foreigners. They will be clearly marked, or at least clearly enough, one hopes.

The Hongqi 7 system was reverse engineered from few French Crotale systems China bought 30 years ago. The Hongqi 7 entered service 20 years ago. Ten years ago, an improved version (mainly better electronics and night capability), the FM-90 (mainly for export), was introduced. The radar can now detect targets 25 kilometers away, and hit them at up to 15 kilometers out (for helicopters, for fast movers, the max range is 9 kilometers). The missiles weigh 186 pounds each, and each wheeled self-propelled or towed launcher carries four. A separate vehicle carries the radar. The missiles have optical (TV camera in the missile) guidance, so the operator has to see the target, and drive the missile into it.

A Hongqi 7/FM-90 battalion has three batteries, each containing three launcher vehicles, three guidance vehicles and a radar vehicle. The older Hongqi 7 is still in service and has a max radar detection range of 17 kilometers and max missile range of 12 kilometers.


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