TechNew Chinese air defence system unveiled by Serbian military

New Chinese air defence system unveiled by Serbian military

HQ-17AE anti-aircraft system
HQ-17AE anti-aircraft system
Images source: © Serbskie Ministerstwo Obrony
Paweł Maziarz

1 July 2024 11:56

Serbia did not receive the ordered weaponry from Russia, so it turned to an alternative from another country. The Serbian Ministry of Defence published photos of the Chinese HQ-17AE anti-aircraft system. We describe its capabilities.

Neither the Serbian government nor the local Ministry of Defence had previously informed the public about purchasing this anti-aircraft system from the People's Republic of China. According to local observers, the system might have been purchased as an alternative to the Russian Pantsir-S1 system, the delivery of which was disrupted by the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war.

HQ-17AE in Serbia

The Serbian Ministry of Defence published photos from a military event at which elements of this Chinese anti-aircraft system were presented. This is not the only recent example confirming that the Serbs are increasingly moving away from contracts with Russia. They confirmed that they want to purchase French Rafale fighters, among other things.

Chinese anti-aircraft system

The HQ-17AE is the export version of the Chinese wheeled HQ-17A anti-aircraft system, essentially a copy of the Soviet Tor-M1 air defence system. China tried to obtain a licence for its production, but Russia refused to cooperate, so the equipment was reverse-engineered.

HQ-17AE anti-aircraft system
HQ-17AE anti-aircraft system© Serbskie Ministerstwo Obrony

The HQ-17AE protects soldiers and important strategic objects from airborne threats. It can intercept aerial targets at distances from 1.6 km to 14.5 km and operate at altitudes from 10 metres to 10,060 metres. The missiles used in the launchers are guided to their targets by a semi-active homing head that identifies targets using radar.

The wheeled launcher version is based on a 6x6 chassis with a lightly armoured body that protects against small arms fire and shrapnel. The vehicle weighs approx. 30,000 kg and is approx. 10 metres long, 3 metres high, and 3.5 metres wide. The maximum speed is estimated at 80 kph, with a range of 800 km.

A standard, complete HQ-17 air defence system battery includes one command vehicle, four rocket launcher vehicles, two reloading vehicles, two ammunition transport vehicles, and additional support vehicles. During the event, a launcher and a reloading vehicle were presented. Details of the Serbian order made in China are unknown; even local media do not report how many batteries they decided to purchase.

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