Saudi Arabia Parades Chinese HQ-17AE Air Defense Systems

A HQ-17AE mobile fire control radar was displayed at the back of the parade at the Institute of Air Defence Forces in Jeddah on 18 August. (Saudi Ministry of Defence)

The Royal Saudi Air Defence Forces (RSADF) displayed a previously unseen radar during a parade marking the start of training for the Islamic year 1443 on 18 August.

The Saudi Ministry of Defence released a photograph and a short video showing the event was held at the Institute of Air Defence Forces training facility in Jeddah and included components from Patriot, HAWK, Shahine (Crotale), and Skyguard air defence systems as well as a truck carrying a radar with an elevated antenna and a second that may have been the associated command post.

An HQ-17AE troop-accompanying field air defense missile system in action. Photo: Courtesy of CASIC.

While the radar could not be seen clearly in the available imagery, it appeared to match the 3D TDA radar that was unveiled by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) during the World Radar Expo held in Nanjing in April.

CASIC said the S-band radar uses advanced digital array and software technology to detect and track low-altitude targets such as cruise missiles as well as small and slow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

A dismounted TDA was displayed at the Expo, but CASIC released a photograph showing six radars that were mounted on Mercedes-Benz Arocs heavy-duty trucks and painted a desert colour like the one seen in the RSADF parade.

The HQ-17AE uses advanced technologies including an all-solid state phased array radar, vertical cold launch missile system, direct force fast turn system and rotatable tail wings, giving the air defense missile system a fast reaction time and capability of adapting to complicated electromagnetic environments on the battlefield, its developer said, noting that the vehicle can launch while moving, and can interconnect with other vehicles into a network in combat.

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