TianYan-90 Helicopter-Borne Air-to-Air Missile
The TianYan-90 (TY-90) is the infrared-homing short-range air-to-air missile developed by China Academy of Air-to-Air Missile. The missile is fitted with an infrared-homing seeker specifically designed for attacking helicopters operating in near earth environments where the sources interference is strong. The missile is equipped by the Mi-171 and Z-9 helicopters serving with the PLA Army Aviation Corps. A surface-to-air variant has also been developed.
Attack helicopters equipped with armour protection and precision strike air-to-surface weapons are becoming increasing threatening in the modern battlefield. Conventional air defence weapons such as surface-to-air missiles and antiaircraft artillery are not very efficient in fighting helicopters flying at low altitude. One possible solution to this problem is to use helicopters to attack enemy helicopters. In order for attack helicopters, which were originally designed for purely ground attack role, to be able to launch attack on enemy helicopters, an effective air-to-air missile suitable for such a mission must be provided.
A number of helicopter-carried air-to-air missiles have been introduced over the past decades. Most of these missiles were derived directly from shoulder-launched air defence missile such as FIM-92A Stinger or fighter-carried air-to-air missile such as AIM-9 Sidewinder. While the Stinger missile’s small warhead (1kg) makes it unsuitable for engaging armour-protected attack helicopters, the heavy weight of the AIM-9 not only restricts the number of missiles that can be carried by a helicopter, but also affects the carrier helicopter’s manoeuvrability.
The TY-90 aims to overcome these shortcomings by integrating the lightweight QW-2 shoulder-launched air-defence missile with a more powerful rocket motor and a new all-aspect cooled Indium Antimonide IR seeker that specifically designed for engaging helicopters operating in near earth environments with strong sources interference. The TY-90 was claimed by its designer to possess longer range (0.5~6km), extended detection range, and robust anti-jamming capability. However, the missile's effectiveness has never been tested in real combat.
The TY-90 resembles the QW-2 shoulder-launched air-defence missile in appearance, featuring four smaller rectangle-shape front control surfaces and four larger rectangle-shape stabilising fins at rear. The missile is armed with a 3kg expanding rod HE warhead and a laser fuse, with a blast radius of 5m. Each WZ-9 attack helicopter carries four TY-90 missiles under its external pylons.
Missile length: 1.862m
Missile diameter: 0.09m
Launch weight: 20kg
Warhead: 3kg HE expanding rod
Propulsion: One solid-propellant rocket motor
Off-boresight capability: 60 degree
Speed: Mach 2
G Limit: 20G
Guidance: All-aspect infrared
Last update: 20 October 2008