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China deploys upgraded HQ-9B surface-to-air missile

China showcased the HQ-9B surface-to-air missile weapons system at Airshow China 2022. The country has deployed the upgraded system with eight smaller missiles in PLA's Central Theater Command. (Future Publishing via Getty Images)

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has deployed the upgraded HQ-9B medium-range, medium-altitude air-defence system in an anti-aircraft brigade of Central Theater Command (CTC).

Video footage released by PLA-affiliated broadcaster js7tv shows the PLA deploying and testing the HQ-9B surface-to-air missile (SAM) system in the CTC. China unveiled the upgraded HQ-9B at the Airshow China 2022 exhibition held in Zhuhai.

The upgraded HQ-9B system equips eight smaller missiles in addition to the four larger missiles integrated with the old system. According to Global Times, the larger missiles are used to intercept targets farther away, and if the remaining targets come closer, the smaller missiles can be used.

The smaller missiles have the same length as the larger ones, but they have a smaller diameter, the Global Times report said. β€œThe eight new-type missiles can be carried by the same transporter erector launcher (TEL) that can carry four of the previously known type.”

According to Janes Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery & Air Defence, the HQ-9 is a family of SAM systems designed to provide medium-range air defence against a variety of assets in the protection of key strategic locations.

The HQ-9B is an improved variant of the HQ-9 and -9A. The HQ-9B has an increased engagement range of at least 200 km and may employ a dual-mode seeker to improve electronic countermeasures resistance.

The system uses a modified HT-233 target engagement radar, which features different secondary antenna arrangements surrounding the primary array and a much smaller feedhorn assembly compared with the original version.

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