Chinese Media ‘Gung-Ho’ Over New Air Defense Missile; Says No Country Has Ever Demonstrated Such Capabilities

China’s newest portable air defense missile, the QW-12, is said to have shown remarkable performance in intercepting helicopters, aircraft, and cruise missiles in a live-fire test.

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The state-run Global Times is gung-ho about the weapon, calling it world-class as it showcased an anti-decoy capability that “no foreign counterpart has ever demonstrated”.

The test, which took place at a target range in North China, purportedly saw the QW-12 missile effectively take down a specifically designed target aircraft. 

The target was built to replicate an attack helicopter by simulating its infrared signal. When the QW-12 missile approached, the aircraft fired eight decoy flares which resembled the target aircraft’s infrared signal in an attempt to deceive the missile.

A portable QW-12 was tested against a target aircraft simulating an attack helicopter dropping eight flares at a target range in North China in early 2022.
A portable QW-12 was tested against a target aircraft simulating an attack helicopter in North China in early 2022.

However, the missile ignored the flares and hit the target, according to the report, which also claims that no other similar missile in the world has demonstrated similar capability publicly.

In another test, the missile was tasked with intercepting a faster target, a 122-millimeter-caliber rocket imitating a jet or cruise missile that soars at 360 meters per second. 

The second test was also successful. However, given the speed of the target, a direct hit was not possible, therefore the missile used its laser proximity detonator to explode itself near the target. With shockwaves and fragmentation, the missile brought down the target, GT report claimed.

Shi Hong, the executive chief editor of the Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, told the Global Times that the test demonstrated the QW-12’s ability to perform tasks in a complex battlefield situation. 

China missiles
File Image: A technician from the PLA Western Theater Command is fixing missiles to a transportation vehicle during an emergency support exercise held at a high-altitude aerodrome in late January, 2022. (China Military Online)

The system can also be mounted on vehicles, giving the missile very high mobility, according to Shi, who added that each vehicle can carry several missiles, delivering even greater firepower. 

China boasts about being one of the few countries in the world to independently manufacture portable air defense missiles. It is said the QW-12 was developed with cutting-edge technologies, resulting in a compact design, lightweight, and tremendous firepower.

QW-Series Missiles 

Shi stated that China showcased QW series missiles at defense expos with the goal of providing various options to the world arms market. The QW-2, a predecessor of the QW-12, was used at the 2017 International Army Games’ air defense competition.

The QianWei-2 (QW-2) is a third-generation man-portable shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (SAM) manufactured by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and export customers. It is also known as Vanguard 2 in the export market.

A Venezuelan soldier using a QW-2 Vanguard 2 Chinese MANPADS during Army Games 2019 – Via Twitter

Its layout resembles that of the Russian 9K310/SA-16 Gimlet portable SAM system, which served as the foundation for the QW-1 SAM system. It was first displayed in 1998 at the Paris Air Show and entered service with the PLA by the late 1990s or early 2000s.

Pakistan is also manufacturing this weapon under the name Anza Mk-3 missile. This fire-and-forget missile has a two-color infrared seeker and a single-stage solid rocket, and it takes a two-man crew to operate. In 2007, the QW-2 SAM system was sold to Bangladesh. 

Credit: China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC)

Bangladesh Navy has received QW-18A man-portable air defense missile systems from China. The QW-18A is an enhanced variant of the QW-18, a portable air defense missile system with anti-infrared capability that can attack even very low altitude air targets with a flight speed of more than 300 m/s omnidirectionally. 

The QW-18 can be combined with various air defense weapon systems. Air-to-air missiles, ship-to-air missiles, and missile-gun air defense armament systems are all possible extensions. Pakistan received 100 QW-18 systems from China.

The QW-18 can engage aerial targets with a range of 500 to 5,000 meters and a height of 10 to 4,000 meters. Electric-servo control actuators of the QW-18A given to the Bangladesh Navy improve guidance and flying characteristics of the missile, which can then effectively intercept supersonic cruise missiles.

The deployment of man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) onboard ships, particularly those lacking a combat system, provides a low-cost defense against aerial threats such as anti-ship missiles, combat aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).