HQ-9 missiles on show during a military parade. Photo: People's Daily
HQ-9 missiles on show during a military parade. Photo: People's Daily

China’s media has been praising its next generation of air defense systems, with the state-owned military-industrial complex China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp taking the lead.

Party mouthpieces have been bragging about the might of the central processing units, or CPUs, and the control systems being mounted on new anti-air missiles.

“Metaphorically put, these control systems are all capable of guiding a needle to fly 1,000 kilometers to pierce the eye of another needle,” Wang Mengyi, the deputy head of the CASC Second Academy’s General Design Department, told the People’s Daily.

The paper also heaped praise on researchers from the academy’s Zhang Yiqun Laboratory, a team that played a vital role in the development of the control systems, in particular the algorithms central to guiding the launch and re-entry of the missiles. These systems must work out the most suitable trajectory for better kinematics and guide and maneuver the missile to hit its target.

Chinese papers, though, were tightlipped in their reports when it came to the specifications of the new missiles.

Analysts believe China’s new air defense systems will supersede the current array of active radar homing surface-to-air missiles such as the HQ-9 series that has been in service for more than two decades.

The People’s Liberation Army has also developed the DF-21 series of anti-ballistic missiles and adopted limited anti-ballistic capabilities on the HQ-9, as well as the HQ-16 series co-developed with Russia.

The force successfully tested its exoatmospheric interception capabilities in a test in 2010 and in subsequent tests since 2013, entering the global elite league of militaries capable of shooting down invading missiles from the edge of the atmosphere. Deployable systems were reported in 2017.

The PLA has also built its own version of the Soviet-made S-300V long-range missiles coded HQ-18, on top of the four versions of the S-300 in service – the PMU, PMU1 and PMU2 and the maritime S-300FM Rif. Based on the S-300PMU1, the Rif equips the Chinese Navy’s two Type 51C air-defense destroyers against short-range ballistic missiles.

New missiles the HQ-19, HQ-26, and HQ-29 are being built, according to a report by globalsecurity.org. It’s believed that CASC’s newly developed control systems are highly configurable for use across these new missiles and their respective platforms.

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