As talks between India and China are yet to see a conclusive result, the Chinese PLA has reportedly deployed its HQ-9 long-range air defense systems near the de facto border in Ladakh, raising the tensions in the region.
The Indian military is keeping a close watch on the Chinese activity. In February, both India and China had agreed to disengage their troops from the Pangong Tso eastern Ladakh, ending their 10-month-long border standoff.
Since then, the Indian Army and the PLA have been holding talks to find ways for possible disengagement from the remaining friction points along the Line of Actual Control. However, the Chinese side is reportedly reluctant to withdraw from Depsang, Hot Springs, Demchok, and Gogra Heights.
Amid all this, the deployment of the Chinese air defense system near the Ladakh border has set the alarm bells ringing in New Delhi.
India Today quoted top government officials as saying that these weapon systems and the whole disengagement process are being closely monitored by Indian intelligence agencies, which may pose a threat to Indian aircraft and helicopters operating in the region.
Ongoing research of #Lhasa's newly upgraded heliport presents evidence of previously unreported UAVs on site, imagery also spots a Mi17 helicopter in flight south of the aerodrome #China #Tibet pic.twitter.com/qa8ajF75Mo
— d-atis☠️ (@detresfa_) April 9, 2021
“We are keeping a close watch on the air-defense systems and other assets positioned there,” an official told India Today.
The report mentions specifically the HQ-9 and the HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems, which would be supplemented by their radar networks and support vehicles.
The HQ-9 Air Defense System
Stated to be broadly equivalent to the Russian S-300 and the American Patriot air defense systems, the HQ-9 is a Chinese long-range SAM using active radar homing missiles.
While the exact capabilities of Chinese systems aren’t widely available in the public domain, it is believed that an HQ-9 battery could consist of one Type 305B search radar, one tracking radar, one 200 kW Diesel generator truck, and eight transporter erector launchers (TELs) each with 4 missiles, totaling 32 rounds ready to fire.
This missile system can be expanded into more capable larger formation, with the addition of the following equipment: one TWS-312 command post, one site survey vehicle based on the Dongfeng EQ2050, one main power grid converter, additional transporter/ loader vehicles with each vehicle housing four missile TELs based on Tai’an TAS5380, one Type 120 low altitude search radar, one HT-233 PEAS long-range search radar.
HQ-9 systems are highly mobile, various units have completed conducting long-distance maneuver and drills, including units in southern China participate in live firing exercises in northwestern China.
Interestingly, the system can use radars similar to that employed by the HQ-22, improvising the overall air defense network and giving the field commander a broader layout of options for engaging the hostile aircraft.