Nigeria gets Africa’s latest, most feared and sophisticated air defense system, the HQ-9. See full details inside


The HQ-9 is a medium- to long-range, active radar homing surface-to-air missile.

Similar in capability to the Russian S-300 and American Patriot systems, the HQ-9 uses a HT-233 PESA radar system. The naval variant, HHQ-9 appears to be identical to the land-based variant. HHQ-9 is equipped in the PLAN Type 052C Lanzhou class destroyer in VLS launch tubes.

The HQ-9 system has an anti-radiation variant, known as the FT-2000 for export. The export designation for air defense version is FD-2000, and its developer China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC) first made it public at the Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition held at Cape Town in March 2009.



The most basic formation of a HQ-9 batteries consisted of one Type 305B search radar, one tracking radar, one 200 kW Diesel generator truck, and eight transporter erector launchers (TELs) each with 4 missiles, totaling 32 rounds ready to fire. These equipments are usually mounted on Tai'an trucks. This basic formation can be expanded into more capable larger formation, with the addition of the following equipment: one TWS-312 command post, one site survey vehicle based on the Dongfeng EQ2050, one main power grid converter, additional transporter / loader vehicles with each vehicle housing four missile TELs based on Tai'an TAS5380, one Type 120 low altitude search radar, one HT-233 PEAS long-range search radar. HQ-9 systems are highly mobile, various units have completed conducting long distance maneuver and drills, including units in southern China participate in live firing exercises in northwestern China.


HQ-9 Surface-to-air missiles

Similar to the Russian S-300V, the HQ-9 is a two-stage missile. The first stage has a diameter of 700 mm and the 2nd stage 560 mm, with a total mass of almost 2 tons and a length of 6.8m. The missile is armed with a 180 kg warhead, has a maximum speed of Mach 4.2. and has a maximum range of 200 km. The thrust vector control (TVC) of HQ-9 is the most obvious visual identification that distinguish it from S300V: TVC of HQ-9 is exposed and thus can be observed from the side, while TVC of S300V is not exposed. The HQ-9's guidance system is composed of inertial guidance plus mid-course uplink and active radar terminal guidance systems.

The system first used a missile in a box-like launcher canted at an angle, just like the MIM-104 Patriot. However the missile was very large because of China's limited experience with solid-fuel rockets in the 1990s. Due to Russian assistance and technology transfers, the missile and launcher are in their present form, a transporter erector launcher with missiles inside a cylindrical container. The missile apparently has a limited anti ballistic missile capability.


To reduce the cost, the HQ-9 is designed to be flexible enough to employ a wide range of radars, both the search/surveillance/acquisition radar and the tracking/engagement/fire control radar (FCR).


Fire control radar

Many FCRs of other Chinese SAM can be used for HQ-9, such as FCR used in KS-1 SAM, SJ-212, itself an enlarged and improved version of the SJ-202 fire control radar (FCR) used in HQ-2J. H-200 & SJ-231 FCRs of latter models of KS-1 SAM are also compatible with HQ-9.


HT-233 Radar

To maximize the combat effectiveness of HQ-9, a dedicated FCR for HQ-9 was developed, and it is most commonly seen with HQ-9. Designated as HT-233, this radar is the most advanced FCRs HQ-9 could employ, and it has greater similarities to the MIM-104 Patriot's MPQ-53 than the S-300's 30N6 (Flap-Lid) series, working in the NATO G-band (4–6 GHz) also as a search and targeting radar. This could be due to an alleged transfer of a Patriot missile to China from Israel. The radar can search a 120 degree arc in azimuth and 0–90 degrees in elevation out to 300 km, with a peak power output on 1MW (average 60 kW). The radar is credited as being able to track 100 targets and guides up to 6 missiles to 6 targets, or alternatively, to 3 targets with a pair of missile for each target.

HT-233 is the FCR used by HQ-9 that is closest to AN/MPQ-53: In comparison to earlier H-200 radar used by early models of KS-1 SAM which uses a simple horn instead of lens arrangement, HT-233 radar adopts lens arrangement of AN/MPQ-53. In comparison to SJ-231 radar used by the latest model of KS-1, HT-233 has a thousand more phase shifter on its antenna array, totaling four thousand, as opposed to the three thousand of SJ-231. In contrast, both AN/MPQ-53 & 30N6E radars have ten thousand phase shifters on their antenna arrays respectively. HT-233 radar is mounted on Tai'an TAS5501 10 x 10 high mobility cross country truck, and operates in C-band at 300 MHz. When deployed as a search radar TH-233 is fielded at brigade level, while FCR radars deployed would be SJ-212, H-200 or SJ-231. HT-233 is credited with a detection range of 120 km, scanning 360 degrees in azimuth and 0–65 degrees in elevation. It can track 100 targets and designate 50 for engagements.


Search Radars

Several search radars are discovered to be associated with HQ-9, including anti-ballistic radars and anti-stealth radars.


Type 305B radar

Type 305B (also known as LLQ-305B) radar is the standard search radar for HQ-9, and it is a development of YLC-2 Radar. This 3-D radar which has an antenna height of 3.5 meters, and employs sixty 350 mm waveguide feeds. It operates in the S-band at a wavelength of 11.67 cm.


Type 120 radar

Type 120 (also known as LLQ-120) radar is the low altitude search radar, it is a telescoping radar with an antenna height of 2.3 metres folded, and 7 metres unfolded, using a feed network of sixteen 230mm wave guides. It rotates at a maximum of ten revolutions per minute, and operates in the L-band at a wavelength of 23.75 cm.


Type 305A radar

Type 305A (also known as LLQ-305A) radar is another search radar for HQ-9 system. This AESA radar is designed maximize the anti-ballistic capability of HQ-9, and it resembles Thales Ground Master 400 AESA radar. Very little info is released about this radar other than it can also act as fire-control radar.


YLC-20 passive sensor

Although Type 305 radars are effective against stealthy targets such as F-35, full stealth target such as B-2 is difficult to detect. YLC-20 passive radar was conceptually based on KRTP-91 Tamara passive sensor, incorporating experience obtained from documentation acquired during the abortive attempt to procure six Czech VERA passive sensors. YLC-20 passive radar was first revealed in 2006.


DWL002 passive sensor

DWL002 passive radar is the development of earlier YLC-20, incorporating Kolchuga passive sensor, four of which were sold to China.[15] Like its predecessor YLC-20, DWL002 is also developed by China Electronics Technology Corp. (CETC).



FD-2000 – First revealed in the 8th Zhuhai Airshow, the export version of HQ-9, providing extra anti-stealth capability by incorporating YLC-20 passive radar sensor as an option. FD-2000 made its name by once securing Turkish surface-to-air missile contract, later cancelled due to political reasons. FD-2000's reaction time from radar contact to missile engagement is around 12–15 seconds. It covers an area of 49000 square kilometres. FD-2000 was on exhibition in Zhuhai Airshow 2014. Range against aircraft is 125 km.


HHQ-9 — Naval version.

HQ-9A — Upgraded version, first tested in 1999 and service entry in 2001. Chinese sources claim that the HQ-9 family of systems employ much newer computing technology than imported Russian S-300PMU/PMU1/PMU2 systems, because HQ-9 is developed more than a decade later, thus allowing it to incorporate advancement in microelectronics. Due to the superior computing capability for signal processing, data processing and guidance support, this missile can have an optional semi-active radar homing (SARH) mode, because more info can be processed on board the missile itself.

HHQ-9A — Ship-borne naval version of HQ-9A. Eight 6-cell vertical launch silos, of cylindrical shape and using "cold launch" method, mounted on the Type 052C destroyer (48 missiles in total).


HQ-9B — reportedly tested in February 2006.

According to Jane's Information Group, this missile has a dual seeker that incorporates both SARH & infrared homing mode.

HQ-9C – Currently under development, incorporating active radar homing mode. Range reported to be 400km.

HQ-19 – A vastly upgraded version of HQ-9 to counter ballistic missile and satellites (ASAT) on the lower end of Low Earth orbits, and it is the Chinese equivalent of THAAD. HQ-19 is armed with a dual purpose exosphere kinetic kill vehicle (kkv) warhead designed by a team led by Professor Zhou Jun, which can be used against ballistic missile warheads or satellites. Its first flight occurred in 2003; since then, the missile has conducted several other tests, including one on 1 November 2015.

SC-19 – HQ-19 derivative using Kaituozhe-1 space booster as engine instead of the original engine used in HQ-9/19. Due to the size difference of engines, SC-19 also has to adopt a new launcher/transporter designated as KT-409. Like HQ-19, SC-19 can also be used to counter either ballistic missile or satellite on the lower end of low Earth orbits.

HQ-26 – Chinese equivalent of SM-3 for naval deployment, upgraded HQ-9/19 equipped with a dual pulse solid rocket motor for the final stage like SM-3. Its certification is expected in 2015 at the earliest.

HQ-29 – Chinese equivalent of MIM-104F (PAC-3) (PAC-3), with engine upgrade for the final stage: instead of a single dual pulse solid rocket motor, HQ-29 is equipped with over a hundred tiny pulse solid rocket motors mounted in the fore body of the missile, but the exact number remain unknown due to lack of publicized information. Its first flight was achieved in 2011.  At least one additional test was conducted in 2013.



The HQ-9 was a contender in Turkey's T-LORAMIDS program, and was reportedly selected as the winner in September 2013. The United States responded by blocking funds to integrate the Chinese system into NATO defenses. However, through 2013 there was no confirmation that the deal had been finalized.

In February 2015, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was informed by the Ministry of National Defence that the evaluation of bids was complete, and that the chosen system would be used by Turkey without integration with NATO; the system was not explicitly named. However, other Turkish officials reported that no winner had been selected. Later in the month, Turkish officials revealed that negotiations were ongoing with multiple bidders; the Chinese bid had not yet satisfied requirements concerning technology transfer. In March 2015, a China Daily article reported that it was "well-known that the Chinese FD-2000 system, a HQ-9 model for export, was chosen for the contract with Turkey in 2013" based on comments made by a CPMIEC representative at the 2015 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition; the article was misleadingly called "Missile sale to Turkey confirmed." In November 2015, Turkey confirmed it would not purchase the HQ-9, opting for an indigenously developed system instead.

Confirmed reports claim China sells the HQ-9 to Iran (estimated several dozen vehicles), Vietnam (estimated several dozen vehicles), Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to offset the cost of purchasing natural gas from those countries.

During early 2015, Pakistan became the first country to start negotiations on the import of the HQ-9 and HQ-16 with China. In December 2018, it was reported in few media circles that Pakistan is now studying the feasibility of procuring three or four FD-2000 SAM systems to fulfill its long-range air defence requirements. In July 2015, the PLA deployed the HQ-9 close to the Kashmir LOC in preparation for a potential territorial conflict with India. The air defense systems were sent to the Hetian airfield located in the south of the Xinjiang region which is only 260 km away from the Kashmir region. According to Kanwa Defense Review, a Chinese-language magazine based in Canada, radar vehicles of HQ-9 air defense missiles have been spotted at the base and assessed that they are intended to defend China's western border from any potential air strikes launched by the Indian Air Force.


Deployment in South China Sea

On 17 February 2016, the Taiwan defense ministry said it had "learned of an air defence missile system deployed" by the Chinese on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands. It would not say how many missiles had been deployed or when, but told the BBC they would be capable of targeting civilian and military aircraft from Vietnam or the Philippines. The commander of the US Pacific Fleet confirmed the deployment to Reuters news agency. Adm Harry Harris said such a move would be "a militarisation of the South China Sea in ways" Chinese military chairman Xi Jinping had pledged not to make.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said there were "serious concerns" over China's "unilateral move to change the status quo" in the region, and "we cannot accept this fact". Satellite images show a close-up of a section of beach, the shape of which resembles the northern coastline as it appears on other images, and point out two missiles batteries.

Each battery is made up of four launchers and two control vehicles. Two of the launchers appear to have been erected, says the report. Fox News quoted a US defence official as saying the missiles appeared to be the HQ-9 air defence system, with a range of about 200 km.


Countries Operating the HQ-9

·         People's Republic of China

·         People's Liberation Army Air Force

·         People's Liberation Army Navy

·         Royal Moroccan Armed Forces

·         Turkmen Ground Forces

·         Uzbek Ground Forces


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