HongQi 61A Surface-to-Air Missile System
The HongQi 61 (HQ-61) is short-range, low- to medium-altitude surface-to-air missile (SAM) developed by Shanghai-based 2nd Mechanical-Electronic Bureau (now Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, SAST). The missile was initially developed as a ship-based air defence missile, with a land-based variant HongQi 61A being developed at a later stage. The HongQi 61A is the first Chinese SAM to be developed specially for the ground forces to provide tactical air defence. The missile only saw very limited service with the PLA.
Because the HongQi 2 SAM was designed to intercept medium- to high-altitude targets, the PLA required a low-/medium-altitude air defence missile in the early 1960s to provide air protection for its ground forces against low-flying aircraft. The missile development was initially carried out by Beijing-based 2nd Space Academy (now China Academy of Defence Technology) in 1965 under the designation HongQi 41. In 1967 the development was taken over by Shanghai-based 2nd Mechanical-Electronic Bureau and the missile renamed HongQi 61. Initially the missile was developed with both land-based and shipborne uses in mind, but a decision was then made that the shipborne (naval) variant should be given higher priority.
The HongQi 61 development had encountered enormous technical difficulties as well as interference of political impact by the ‘Culture Revolution’ during the 1960s/70s. The shipborne variant HongQi 61 was not successful until late 1986. The development of the land-based HongQi 61A began in 1976. The associated ground guidance station, electro-optical director, and fire-control vehicle were developed at the same time. The HongQi 61A passed its certification tests in 1986 and the missile’s design certificate was issued in 1988 prior to production commencing.
The HongQi 61A only saw very limited service. The air defence brigade subordinate to PLA 38th Group Army in the Beijing Military Region fields the HongQi 61A, HongQi 7, and Tor-M1 (SA-15) SAM, and 35mm AAA guns in amalgamation for field air defence roles.
The HongQi 61A missile has four front canards mounted on the middle of the missile body and four larger delta-shape control surfaces at rear. The front canards and the rear control surfaces arrangement are not on the same geometric plane, but on a 45 degree angle. The missile uses radio command and semi active radar homing.
A twin missile launcher is mounted on a YanAn SX2150 flatbed 6X6 truck with an azimuth range of 360°. The truck is equipped with four hydraulically operated stabilisers which are lowered in preparation for the missile launch.
Fire-Control & Surveillance
A typical HongQi 61A battery (company) consists of 4 trucks each with 2 ready-to-launch missiles, mobile generators, command post vehicle, tracking and illuminating radar vehicle, target indicating radar vehicle, and 24 spare missiles. Earlier versions of the target indicating radar was similar to the one used on former Soviet SA-3 Goa system. The C-band radar system had the Chinese designation Type 571 and had two elliptic parabolic net-type reflectors.
Other features include moving target indication and frequency hopping agility. A typical target engagement would take place as follows: The target is first detected by target indication and radar vehicle. After being confirmed as hostile, the target is tracked and illuminated by the tracking and illuminating radar vehicle. When the target is within range one missile is launched. The Type 571 radar has been designed specifically for low-altitude warning and displays both the slant range and azimuth of aircraft targets detected.
No details of the tracking and illuminating radar has been disclosed, although photographic imagery examined shows a dish-type antenna with a TV camera mounted coaxially to the right for use in an ECM environment, or passive operations during clear weather engagements.
Missile dimensions: (length) 3.99m; (diameter) 0.286m; (wingspan) 1.166m
Launch weight: 300kg
Operating altitude: Maximum
Operating range: 2.5~10km
Maximum speed: Mach
Guidance: Radio command + semi-active radar
Single-shot hit probability: N/A
Last update: 25 March 2008