Tuesday, September 21, 2021

China’s New Air Defense System Looks Similar To American ‘Stryker’ SHORAD

The Chinese PLA might have come up with a new Short-Range Air Defense (SHORAD) system, which looks similar to the recently deployed American Stryker.

According to a video released by the state broadcaster CCTV, this new system, comprising one 35mm anti-aircraft cannon along with two surface-to-air missiles, is based on an eight-wheeled armored vehicle.

The concept looks similar to the recently deployed American Stryker IM-SHORAD system, developed by General Dynamics and Leonardo DRS for the US Army.

The system has been described as “independently developed” by the Chinese state-owned Global Times, a clarification aimed at countering the widely-held perception that China has mastered the art of copying foreign designs and reverse-engineering.

The new system is equipped with advanced radar and fire control systems, giving the PLA forces a much-needed capability for its ground units.

The weapon system can also be deployed as a stand-alone combat unit, a feature claimed to make the Chinese system better than its competitors in the market. Interestingly, the weapon’s designation was not revealed in the CCTV video.

Two of the Mobile Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) systems now assigned to the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in Germany. Via: US Army

The system is stated to be highly mobile and would provide essential close-range air defense capability for the PLA units, defending them against incoming hostile gunships and ground attack fixed-wing aircraft. This would make it a “great choice” for a combined arms brigade in field air defense tasks, especially to counter drones.

“We integrated detection, track and strike functions to the system and it can finish all of these tasks while it is moving,” the lead designer of the anti-aircraft gun from the state-owned China South Industries Group Corporation, told Global Times.

The system uses a single-barrel 35mm cannon as its primary weapon, a highly unusual choice for such a system. Comparatively, the SHORAD systems developed by other countries have used dual cannons to achieve greater kill probability.

However, this new Chinese system, as reported, uses a new rotary autoloader that significantly increases its rate of fire. This autoloader is also claimed to increase accuracy and reliability.

In addition to the main gun, the system carries two surface-to-air missiles on the right side of the turret. 

What Is A SHORAD System?

A SHORAD is an anti-aircraft weapon system designed to shoot down low-flying enemy aircraft like helicopters and close air support aircraft like A-10 Warthog and Su-25.

These systems are generally mobile, mounted on wheeled or tracked platforms, and move with ground columns/convoys to provide air defense cover.

These systems traditionally use a main medium-caliber cannon and surface-to-air missiles, or sometimes only the latter. They are cued with sensors like radars and electro-optical pods carried on the vehicle, that detect incoming threats and guide the weapon systems to effectively aim the target and neutralize it.

The use of numerous types of armed drones, including suicide drones is becoming a real threat to any armed force.  Swarm drones, which present a grave threat for any air defense system, are increasing, as well.

Even small modified quad and hexacopter loaded with payloads cannot be ignored. Thus weapons like SHORAD could be highly effective again the drone menace.

In October 2020, General Dynamics Land Systems, which builds the Stryker series, secured a contract to blend Leonardo DRS’s M-SHORAD system onto an unspecified number of the 8×8 wheeled armored vehicles.

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