BEIJING, Sept, 13 (ChinaMil) --"The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) has developed a new variant of its HQ-16 (Red Flag-16) self-propelled medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM), according to imagery released by Chinese state television in early September." Britain's Jane's Defence Weekly reported on September 7.
The Jane's report said that "the new variant (referred to by some as the HQ-16B) appears to have an improved rocket motor and revised wings, which sources say increase the missile's range to 70 km, up from the 40 km credited to the HQ-16, in service with the air defense units of the People's Liberation Army Ground Force ."
Military expert Li Jie, also a senior research with the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said in an interview that the foreign media's conjectures are not totally groundless and the improved HQ-16's firing range and performance will be notably enhanced.
The development of air defense missile system in China has embarked on a fast track and is in a leading position in the world, Li added.
Photos released by foreign media show that the improved HQ-16 missile system has a longer body and the relative position of its wings is changed, indicating the quantity of propellant is increased and firing range is considerably extended.
Regarding how to deal with stealth targets, Li Jie said HQ-16 has its unique approaches but needs systematic collaboration to achieve better effects.
He expressed that the HQ-16 missile system is equipped with phased array radar and Russia-made search radar, which, when working together, can discover large quantities of incoming attackers and track tens of targets at the same time while hitting key ones. The system is also good at searching, discovering, tracking and attacking stealth targets.
Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the PLA Air Force, said on August 28 that the Air Force's ground air defense troops have established a combat system covering long, medium and short ranges and high, medium and low altitudes. With comprehensively enhanced anti-missile air defense capability, they have put up a "blue shield" to ensure China's national air and space security.
The HQ series, as a systematic family including short-range HQ-7, medium-range HQ-16 and HQ-12 and long-range HQ-9, constitute the main part of China's surface-to-air missiles.
According to Li Jie, the HQ series' overall performance has been gradually improved, and China's capability of independently developing and manufacturing anti-missile air defense weapons and auxiliary systems has also been obviously enhanced. Especially regarding electronic equipment and fire system, China-made equipment has superior performance than imported one.
"We have a strong developing momentum. The capability of independent R&D, manufacturing and improvement is constantly enhanced and has achieved substantial progress," Li Jie said.
"The development of air defense missile system in China has embarked on a fast track and is in a leading position in the world. Moreover, China's air defense missile weapons have advantages in export for their fair price and high quality, and are very attractive for medium-sized and small countries," he added.