The HQ-17A is a new Chinese short-range air defense system, developed from the HQ-17, in fact an improved and reverse engineered version of the Russian Tor.
Amid tensions with neighboring India, China is said to have deployed many modern air defense systems to its border. According to reports, the People’s Liberation Army tested its new surface-to-air defence missile, the HQ-17A, in the high-altitude region in August, near the Line of Actual Control. The HQ-17A is a new Chinese short-range air defense system, developed from the HQ-17, in fact an improved and reverse engineered version of the Russian Tor.
China ordered the Tor-M1 systems from Russia in 1996, and then sought to license-produce the system, which Russia refused. Undeterred, talented Chinese engineers reverse-engineered this air defense system. In early 2015, HQ-17 was publicly revealed. The HQ-17A is a wheeled version, developed to increase the mobility of the system.
The wheeled launch vehicle is produced by Dongfeng Motor Corporation and is a 6×6 chassis similar to a Belarusian MZKT-6922. The vehicle weighs around 30 tons, and is about 9.7 m long, 3.1 m tall and 3.7 m wide. Features include an all-wheel drive system, central tire pressure system and a lightly armored which provides some degree of protection against small arms fire and shell splinters. It is reportedly powered by a roughly 400 HP diesel engine and has a maximum speed of 80 km/h and range of 800 km.
The HQ-17 has several improvements over the original Tor-M1. The HQ-17 incorporates a new identification friend or foe antenna on top of the search radar, an electronically scanned array radar for better performance against jamming, and the ability to datalink with other Chinese systems.
The HQ-17 operates in batteries. A typical battery consists of 4 launch vehicles, reloading vehicles and other support vehicles. Although a battery of the HQ-17 usually operates independently, it can also use targeting data from other surveillance radars. The HQ-17 can engage all kinds of modern air targets, including aircraft, helicopter, UAVs, cruise missiles and precision guided munitions. Basically it is intended to destroy targets that long- and medium- range air defense systems failed to hit.
With a weight of roughly 165 kg, a length of around 2.9 m, and a diameter of around 0.23 m, the HQ-17 missile is physically identical to the Tor-M1. The HQ-17 launcher vehicle carries both radars and missiles, with a total of 16 missiles, which are launched vertically. Maximum range of fire is around 15 km. Missiles can reach their targets at an altitude of up to 10 km. Hit probability of a single missile against aircraft is up to around 45-80%. A battery of the launcher vehicles is also supported by other associated vehicles, such as command post vehicle and resupply vehicles.
The HQ-17A is a highly mobile air defense weapon that can be swiftly deployed in advanced locations to protect soldiers or critical infrastructure from enemy threats, such as military bases, airfields, ports, supply depots, command centers and so on. China claims that the system is capable of intercepting even stealth aircraft as well as supersonic cruise missiles and rockets although it cannot be verified independently.