China’s HQ-19 anti-ballistic missile interceptor, which is said to be on par with the US’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), has been made operational, according to reports.
According to local media reports, Beijing has finally decided to make the HQ-19 anti-ballistic missile interceptor operational, which will boost PLA’s military might.
The defense system is the vastly upgraded version of the country’s HQ-9 and is designed to counter ballistic missiles and satellites on the lower end of low-Earth orbits.
As per reports, the HQ-19 is armed with a dual-purpose exosphere kinetic kill vehicle (kkv) warhead, likely to be used against ballistic missile warheads or satellites.
The systems are considered to be on par with the US-built THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense systems. The American system is touted as the most advanced missile defense system in the world along with Russian-made S-400s.
Developed after the Gulf War of 1991, THAAD has been designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase by intercepting with a hit-to-kill approach.
According to experts, THAAD is also generally seen as most capable against medium-range ballistic missiles, with a more limited capability against intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
In 2018, China had announced that it had conducted the successful testing of the HQ-19s, without giving further details on the weapon system.
The launch might have been a part of Beijing’s efforts of shielding itself against potential regional threats, such as expanding Indian and South Korean ballistic missile forces, or even be a cover for continued anti-satellite weapon development.
According to the Chinese Defense Ministry’s official statement, “China conducted a successful test of its ground-based midcourse defense system. The missile interception test was defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country.”