Pakistan Army Deploys Chinese HQ-16A SAM System in Kashmir

In 2016, the Pakistan Army disclosed that it had procured six HQ-16A surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems from China for $373 million U.S. in fiscal year 2014-2015. This acquisition appears to be a follow-on from the armed forces’ initial HQ-16 order, which took place in 2013-2014 (for three HQ-16 SAM systems for $226 million and eight IBIS-150 radars for $40 million).

The Pakistan Army formally inducted the LY-80 (HQ-16) medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system on 12 March 2017, learned GDC citing Defense News.

HQ-16A of Pakistan Army

In an official press release, the armed forces’ media arm Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) states that the LY-80 “is a Chinese mobile air defence system, (sic) capable of tracking and destroying variety of aerial targets at longer ranges flying at low and medium altitude.” The HQ-16 is produced by China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC).

Produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), the HQ-16 (export designation: LY-80) is a medium-range SAM system with a maximum intercept range of 40km (Army Recognition).

Each HQ-16 system is reportedly comprised of a command and control vehicle, tracking and guidance radar vehicle, target search radar vehicle, and missile launchers.

The HQ-16 missile itself carries a 70kg warhead and is guided by a semi-active radar-homing (SARH) seeker (which will work in conjunction with the SAM system’s tracking and guidance radar). The missile is also used as a vertically-launched naval SAM in the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

It is not clear how many launchers are included within each HQ-16 system. Numerous web sources have suggested that each HQ-16 system (with an IBIS-150 radar) comprises of twelve launchers divided into three batteries, but no official information on this issue is readily available.

If an IBIS-150 radar is an indication of an HQ-16 system, then Pakistan could be ordering up to 108 launchers. However, systems need not be as large as 12 launchers, Pakistan could potentially be deploying system with varying numbers of launchers. It is not known if there will be systems with 12 launchers (or conversely, less than 12 launchers). In any case, the HQ-16 is clearly on-track to forming the medium-range layer of Pakistan’s land-based integrated air defence system (IADS).

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Pakistan Rejects S-300 SAM

Pakistan previously showed interest in Russia’s S-300 SAM system, but Pakistan was concerned about its performance in Syria and Pakistan took into consideration about Russo-Indian defense relations which contributed to the second thought about S-300 SAM Systems, reported Defense News.

Deployment of HQ-16A

Pakistan reportedly deployed medium-range LY-80/HQ-16 air defense systems in Kashmir to deter further Indian incursions, but analyst and former Pakistan Air Force pilot Kaiser Tufail believes this may not be enough.

During a Feb. 26 airstrike on Pakistani soil, Indian aircraft reportedly launched ordnance 40 kilometers away from Balakot, but any penetration of Pakistan-controlled airspace could not have been deeper than 6 kilometers. “Nonetheless, there is a pressing need for long-range SAMs [surface-to-air missiles] in this era of standoff weapons delivery. There should be no doubt about that,” Tufail said.

In March, Maj. General Asif Ghafoor, the head of Inter Service Public Relations, the Pakistani military’s media branch, announced that the country was in talks with Russia for the procurement of defense equipment, including aircraft as well as anti-tank and air-defense systems.

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