Air Defense: China Exports VLS System
May 17, 2011: China recently began offering its HQ-16 VLS (Vertical Launch System) anti-aircraft missile for export. This system is a license built (or using stolen tech) version of the Russian Buk M2 anti-aircraft missile systems. These are the latest version of the SAM-6 class missiles, that proved so effective in the 1973 Arab Israeli war. The M2E missiles weigh 328 kg (720 pounds) and have a max range of 50 kilometers. The land based version has four missiles carried on a tracked vehicle. The target acquisition radar has a range of over 150 kilometers. The export version is called the LY-80.
The HQ-16 naval version has the missiles fired out of a vertical storage/launch cell that is flush with the deck of the ship. This is a system pioneered by the United States. This is one reason China has developed new ship designs to replace the Russian ones it has been using for over half a century. The first of these is the 4,300 ton Type 54 frigate. This ship is based on Western, not Russian, design concepts. Twelve of these have been built so far, plus ten to the more advanced Type 054A standard (each of which has 32 VLS cells for HQ-16 missiles.)