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China air defense missile systems are major threat for United States

According to a report published by the U.S. DoD on July 28, 2020, China and Russia are developing increasingly capable and numerous missile defense systems, and integrate them into their defense strategies as they compete with the United States.
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Chinese army S-400 Transporter Erector Launcher Unit. (Picture source Internet)

For the United States Department of Defense, the main threat comes from the People's Republic of China. The Chinese see missile defense as a key cog in their military ambitions. The People's Liberation Army Air Force is accelerating the transition of its tasks from territorial air defense to both offensive and defensive operations, according to a Chinese white paper on the subject. China's air force is also improving its capabilities for strategic early warning, airstrikes, and air and missile defense.

The Chinese armed forces were the first customer of the Russian-made S-300PMU2, a long-range air defense missile system (SAM) able to destroy aircraft, cruise missiles and theater ballistic missiles in intense clutter and jamming environments.

The S-300PMU2 can fire the 48N6E2 surface-to-air missiles can engage aerial targets with a range from 3 to 200 kilometers, at altitudes between 10 to 27,000 meters. The S-300PMU2 has also the ability to detect and destroy anti-ballistic missiles with a range between 5 to 40 kilometers and altitudes between 2,000 to 25,000 meters.

The S-300PMU2 air defense missile system can engage up to 6 targets simultaneously while providing guidance for up to 12 missiles - two missiles per target ensuring target kill. In addition, highly automated detection and acquisition procedures provide outstanding performance over previous SAM systems.

China became also the first foreign buyer of Russia’s most advanced S-400 Triumph surface-to-air missile systems. Russia signed a contract with China on the delivery of two regimental sets of S-400 in 2014. The first regimental set of S-400 was delivered to China in the spring of 2018. The Chinese military successfully test-fired the missile launchers and hit an aerodynamic and ballistic target.

S-400 Triumph (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the latest long-and medium-range surface-to-air missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, and can also be used against ground installations. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of up to 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km under intensive enemy fire and jamming.

China has also invested in research and development to build their own air defense missile capabilities. This includes the HQ-19 missile defense system, which could be used against incoming, medium-range ballistic missiles. Initial operating capability is set for next year.

The HQ-19 is an upgrade version of the HQ-9, a medium- to long-range, active radar homing surface-to-air missile. The HQ-19 is able to counter ballistic missile and satellites (ASAT) on the lower end of Low Earth orbits. According to Chinese military sources, it is an equivalent of the American THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense).

The HQ-19 will have a range of between approximately 1,000 and 3,000 km, according to a 2017 Pentagon report to Congress on Chinese military developments. It could potentially have a capability against intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM), with ranges between 3,000 km and 5,500 km, under certain circumstances.

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