According to The Military Balance 2018, taking into account the combat-ready reserve and paramilitary formations in the PRC, there are about 3 million people under arms. It is very difficult to cover such a mass of troops only with anti-aircraft missiles, and therefore obsolete anti-aircraft machine-gun installations and anti-aircraft machine guns with magazine loading are still in the ranks and in warehouses. In the past, the PRC's air defense system had more than 10,000 anti-aircraft guns of caliber: 23, 37, 57, 85 and 100 mm. Currently, 85- and 100-mm anti-aircraft guns have survived only in parts of the coastal defense, and 37-mm anti-aircraft guns are mainly transferred to "storage". The PLA anti-aircraft artillery units have about 3,000 23 and 57-mm automatic anti-aircraft guns. Unlike other countries, where the military has grown cold towards anti-aircraft artillery, the armed forces of the PRC continue to pay great attention to small-caliber rapid-fire anti-aircraft guns. Along with the preservation of some of the anti-aircraft guns fired in the 60-80s, anti-aircraft artillery systems are being created in China using the most modern achievements in the field of radar and optoelectronics. The Chinese military believes that in the event of a large-scale conflict, rapid-fire artillery systems guided by radar and passive optoelectronic sensors can be more resistant to electronic warfare than guided missiles and effectively fight air attacks at low altitudes. In addition, artillery shells are much cheaper than anti-aircraft missiles and do not require regular checks and maintenance. In case of urgent need, towed and self-propelled anti-aircraft guns are suitable for firing at surface and ground targets.
To provide air defense for small units in the PLA, anti-aircraft large-caliber machine guns are still used. In the 21st century, the main part of the 12.7 mm Type 54 machine guns (a copy of the DShKM) was replaced by the 12.7 mm Type 77 and QJZ89 machine guns (Type 89). Compared to the DShKM, the mass of the new Chinese 12.7 mm machine guns has been significantly reduced. So, the weight of the Type 77 together with the tripod machine and the sight is 56, 1 kg. And the QJZ89 machine gun was made record-breaking light, its weight in a combat position on a tripod machine is about 32 kg.
At the end of the 50s, the production of a copy of the single-barreled 14, 5-mm anti-aircraft gun ZPU-1 was launched in the PRC. These weapons were actively used during the Vietnam War and in many regional conflicts. But the mass of weapons in a combat position of more than 400 kg made it difficult to transport them by the crew. In 2002, the QJG02 lightweight anti-aircraft gun was adopted.
Outwardly, the QJG02 resembles the Soviet ZGU-1 mining rig, but the Chinese 14.5mm machine gun uses a gas-operated automatic system. The ballistic characteristics and practical rate of fire of the QJG02 anti-aircraft gun remained at the level of the Soviet ZPU-1. With a mass in the firing position of about 140 kg, the QJG02 installation can be disassembled into six parts and carried in packs. The weight of the heaviest pack is just over 20 kg.
In the late 1990s, the PRC began production of 35-mm twin Type 90 anti-aircraft guns with centralized radar guidance and a laser rangefinder. This anti-aircraft artillery system is a copy of the Swiss 35-mm GDF-002 Oerlikon GDF, which, along with the towed Skyguard millimeter-wave fire control radar, was purchased in the late 1980s. Compared to the original model, the Chinese Type 902 guidance station has significantly greater capabilities.The detection range of air targets by radar is 15 km. Due to the introduction of a laser rangefinder and an optoelectronic optical system, it was possible to significantly increase the effectiveness of the fight against UAVs, cruise missiles, airplanes and helicopters operating at low altitudes. It is possible to fire at visually unobservable targets: at night and in difficult weather conditions. At the same time, data on the course, altitude and flight speed of the target are transmitted to the anti-aircraft installations via a wired communication channel from the guidance station, the aiming of 35-mm paired assault rifles is carried out in an automated mode, and the calculations give the command to open fire, control the availability of ammunition and replenish the projectile boxes.
Towed 35-mm twin anti-aircraft gun Type 90 weighs 6700 kg in combat position. Effective range of fire at air targets - up to 4000 m, reach in height - 3000 m. Rate of fire: 1100 rds / min. To increase mobility, about 60 35-mm anti-aircraft guns are placed on the chassis of the Shaanxi SX2190 three-axle off-road truck.
This ZSU received the designation CS / SA1. In total, the PLA has more than 200 towed 35-mm twin anti-aircraft guns. The positions of Type 90 anti-aircraft batteries are mainly located on the coast of the Taiwan Strait, as well as in the vicinity of airfields, ports, bridges and tunnels.
In the last decade, China has seen a serious qualitative and quantitative strengthening of the army's air defense. In the past, the air defense of the battalion level was provided with 12, 7 and 14, 5-mm anti-aircraft machine guns, but now, to protect against air strikes from low altitudes, the PLA Ground Forces have a significant number of portable anti-aircraft missile systems.
During the Vietnam War, Chinese intelligence managed to obtain Soviet Strela-2 MANPADS. In the late 1970s, the HN-5 MANPADS, which is an unlicensed copy of Strela-2, entered service with the Chinese army.
The improved version of the HN-5A corresponded to the Strela-2M MANPADS. In the mid-1980s, several Soviet Strela-3 MANPADS were purchased from the Angolan movement UNITA. The Chinese copy, which appeared in 1990, is known as the HN-5B. According to Western data, until 1996, China produced about 4,000 launchers for MANPADS of the HN-5 family. Typically, MANPADS were used as part of anti-aircraft brigades along with 23, 37 and 57-mm anti-aircraft guns. Currently, obsolete portable systems are available in the "second line" and in "storage".
At the moment, the PLA operates about 4000 launchers of MANPADS: QW-1, QW-2, QW-3 - created on the basis of the Soviet "Igla-1". According to Western sources, Chinese intelligence was able to obtain several Igla-1 MANPADS from Angola in the second half of the 1980s. Serial production of the QW-1 began in the mid-1990s.
The QW-2 MANPADS, which was put into service in 1998, uses a missile with a dual-band IR seeker and has a selection of heat traps. This modification weighs about 18 kg and can hit air targets at a distance of up to 5500 m, the ceiling is 3500 m.
The most long-range modification of the QW-3 is a functional analogue of the French short-range transportable complex Mistral. The Chinese mobile QW-3 complex with a launcher weight of 21 kg has a maximum launch range of more than 7000 m, an altitude reach of up to 5000 m.
Currently, the troops are supplied with the latest FN-6 MANPADS. The adoption of this complex for service took place in 2011. Chinese sources write that the FN-6 MANPADS is an original development. The portable complex, which weighs about 16 kg in a combat position, has a firing range of 6000 m, an altitude reach of 3800 m. The probability of defeat in the absence of organized interference is 0.7.
The pyramidal missile is equipped with a cooled thermal seeker with digital signal processing and anti-jamming. The rocket nose cone has a characteristic pyramidal shape, under which a four-element IR sensor is located.In the stowed position, the head part is covered with a removable casing.
The transportation of MANPADS calculations is carried out on wheeled armored personnel carriers ZSL-92A (WZ-551), which have displays displaying the air situation. If necessary, the missile can be launched from the armor. Also developed are paired versions of MANPADS, similar to the Russian short-range anti-aircraft complex "Dzhigit". SAMs with an IR guidance system are also actively used as part of Chinese self-propelled anti-aircraft missile and missile-artillery systems.
According to the state, each motorized rifle battalion has an air defense platoon on three armored personnel carriers. In the ZSL-92A armored personnel carrier, the calculation of MANPADS with portable tactical information tablets and communication means is carried out. In the stowage of the armored personnel carrier there are four spare missiles. For self-defense and firing at low-flying air targets, a 12.7-mm machine gun is installed on the armored personnel carrier.
According to the staffing table of the Air Defense Brigade of the Ground Forces, it includes two anti-aircraft artillery battalions and one MANPADS battalion. In total, there are 18 towed Type 59 57-mm guns (copy of the C-60) or 37-mm Type 74 twin guns, as well as 24 23-mm Type 85 anti-aircraft guns (copy of the ZU-23).
On 27 off-road vehicles, MANPADS calculations are placed, at the disposal of which 108 missiles. The PLA has several anti-aircraft brigades, where individual divisions are armed with HQ-6D air defense systems, FN-6 MANPADS and Type 90 towed anti-aircraft artillery mounts. as well as other important military installations.
Self-propelled artillery and missile-artillery systems on tracked and wheeled chassis are designed to provide air defense for motorized rifle and tank regiments and divisions.
In the 80-90s, the Chinese army had quite a few ZSU with openly installed paired 23-mm anti-aircraft guns Type 85 - copies of the Soviet ZU-23. In 1987, the 25-mm version of the Type 80 entered service, which was used to create the Type 95 anti-aircraft missile-gun complex.
This vehicle, put into service in 1999, was created on the basis of the tracked BMP WZ-551 and is armed with 4 25-mm machine guns and 4 missiles with IR seeker QW-2 or FN-6. In terms of its combat capabilities, the Type 95 ZRPK is close to the modernized ZSU-23-4M4 "Shilka".
The detection of air targets and the guidance of the gun on the Type 95 air defense missile system is carried out using a millimeter-wave locator, an optoelectronic system and a laser rangefinder. The radar is capable of escorting a MiG-21 fighter at a range of 11 km. The anti-aircraft battery consists of 6 Type 95 air defense missile systems and a radar battery command post with CLC-2 on the WZ-551 BMP chassis with a range of 45 km.
In 2007, testing of the Type 09 anti-aircraft self-propelled gun began. The ZSU, armed with two 35-mm cannons on the 155-mm Type 05 self-propelled gun chassis, received the designation Type 09. In fact, this is a self-propelled version of the Type 90 35-mm towed installation with its own fire control system and radar …
Surveillance radar with an antenna mounted above the tower has a detection range of 15 km. If the enemy uses electronic warfare equipment, it is possible to search for air targets by a passive optoelectronic station with a laser rangefinder.
In 2004, the Type 92 Yitian mobile military air defense system was presented to the general public. It is designed to protect troops on the march and stationary objects from low-flying planes and helicopters of army aviation, as well as the destruction of unmanned aerial vehicles and enemy cruise missiles at any time of the day and in adverse weather conditions. The combat vehicle has 8 ready-to-use missiles in sealed transport and launch containers. A remote-controlled 12.7 mm machine gun is intended for self-defense.
As part of the mobile air defense system, a missile with an IR seeker TY-90 is used, which was originally created for arming combat helicopters. The UR TY-90 homing head has a viewing angle of ± 30 ° and is able to see the target against the background of the earth and, allegedly, emit target radiation in the event of heat traps. The missile guidance system allows you to capture the target, both before and after launch.With a launch weight of 20 kg, the TY-90 missile is capable of striking targets at a range of up to 6000 m. The altitude reach is 4600 m. The maximum target speed is 400 m / s. The missile is equipped with a rod warhead weighing 3 kg, with a hitting radius of 5 m. The declared probability of hitting one missile is 0.8.
To detect an air enemy and issue target designation over the sensors of the optoelectronic sighting and surveillance system, a foldable radar antenna with a phased antenna array is placed between the TPK with missiles. A target of the MiG-21 type can be detected at a distance of up to 20 km, the detection range of a cruise missile is 10-12 km. After detecting a target, the operator turns the tower in its direction and prepares for launch. When the target approaches at a distance of 10-12 kilometers, it is taken for tracking with a thermal imaging sight and the range is controlled using a laser rangefinder. The moment of launching the missile defense system is determined by the calculator based on the parameters of the speed and course of the target. SAM Type 92 Yitian can be used separately or as part of an anti-aircraft battery of six combat vehicles and a command post with a three-coordinate radar IBIS-80, capable of detecting low-altitude targets at a distance of up to 80 km.
SAM Type 92 Yitian adopted by the air defense of the PLA Ground Forces. This Chinese complex is conceptually close to the Soviet military air defense system "Strela-10", but surpasses it in launch range, the number of missiles ready for launch, and has its own surveillance radar.
The Chinese analogue of the Pantsir-S1 air defense missile system is the FK-1000 (Sky Dragon 12). This machine was first demonstrated at Airshow China 2014. The armament consists of two 25-mm cannons and 12 anti-aircraft missiles. Chinese bicaliber missiles very much resemble the missiles used in Russian complexes.
According to Chinese sources, the air defense missile system on a cargo chassis can simultaneously fire at four targets at a distance of 2 to 12 km, altitudes from 15 to 5000 m.The complex is equipped with an FW2 fire control system and an IBIS-80 target designation radar.
In the period from 1997 to 2001, 35 Tor-M1 air defense systems were delivered to the PRC from Russia. As with other imported air defense equipment, the Chinese successfully copied the Russian short-range complex. In April 2014, Chinese television for the first time officially showed a Chinese copy of the Tor air defense system, known as the HQ-17. At the same time, it was reported that the HQ-17 air defense system is mass-produced and operated in military air defense units.
Externally, the Chinese air defense system differs from its Russian prototype with an antenna radar for detecting air targets. It was stated that in terms of its combat characteristics, the Chinese complex turned out to be more productive than the Russian counterpart, due to the installation of more advanced electronics and radar. According to Western sources, in the parts of the army air defense of the PLA, as of 2018, there could be up to 30 HQ-17 air defense systems.
In the past, Chinese developers of air defense technology largely followed by copying foreign samples or borrowing certain technical solutions. The accumulated experience, developed scientific and technical base and significant financial investments in research and development allow independently developing the entire range of anti-aircraft missile and artillery systems. The defense industry of the PRC is able to organize the serial production of anti-aircraft systems in terms of their capabilities, which are not inferior to modern foreign counterparts. Today, China is one of a very limited circle of countries that can independently create the entire line of anti-aircraft systems: from MANPADS to long-range anti-aircraft systems, which also perform anti-missile defense missions.