Air Defense: Another Cheap Chinese Copy


March 11, 2009: China is now offering its HQ-9 anti-aircraft missile system for export, as the FD-2000. Mostly used by the army, Chinese HQ-9 brigades are mobile, and equipped with a brigade headquarters (with a command vehicle, and four trucks for communications and maintenance), six battalions (each with a missile control vehicle, a targeting radar vehicle, a search radar vehicle and eight missile launch vehicles, each carry four missiles in containers).

A decade ago, China began introducing the HQ-9. Over a decade of development was believed to have benefitted from data stolen from similar American and Russian systems. The HQ-9 missile is similar to the U.S. "Patriot," and is deployed in ships as well. The radar apparently derived much technology from that used in the Russian S-300 system.

The HQ-9 missile has a max range of about 100 kilometers, weighs 1.3 tons and has a passive (no broadcasting) seeker in the missile. China has installed this system in its new, 6,500 ton 052C class destroyers. The 052C installation has 48 missiles fired from vertical launchers. Unlike the American "hot launch" (where the rocket ignites while the missile is in the launch tube), the Chinese use a "cold launch" system. This uses compressed air to eject the missile from the launch tube, and then the rocket motor ignites. Ship designers are still debating which system is safer and more effective.    

Russia and the United States are debating how to deal with the growing Chinese use of stolen technology, especially for weapons systems that are exported and compete against the systems they are copied from.


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