Air Defence SAM LY-80 HQ-16 System Update: The Pakistan Army formally inducted the LY-80 (HQ-16) medium-range Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system on 12 March 2017.
In an official press release, the armed forces’ media arm Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) states that the Air Defence SAM LY-80 HQ-16 System “is a Chinese mobile air defence system, (sic) capable of tracking and destroying variety of aerial targets at longer ranges flying at low and medium altitude.” The Air Defence SAM LY-80 HQ-16 System is produced by China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC).
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As per Army Recognition, the Air Defence SAM LY-80 HQ-16 System has a maximum range of 40 km and is capable of engaging targets at an altitude of 400 to 10,000 metres. The Air Defence SAM LY-80 HQ-16 System comprises of an IBIS-150 3D target-search radar, a solid-state S-band Passive Electronically-Scanned Array (PESA) radar with a range of up to 150 km, multiple L-band tracking and guidance PESA radars, and six-cell vertical missile-launchers. Each L-band tracking radar has a range of 85 km, and can detect up to six targets, of which it can track four. An HQ-16 battery comprises of a tracking radar and four missile launchers.
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It should be noted that China Aerospace Long-March International (ALIT), a privately-owned defence firm responsible for marketing Chinese defence goods and securing sales, states that the LY-80 has a maximum range of 70 km. It appears that the improved HQ-16B is available for export, and this may be – or become – a factor in the Pakistan Army’s air defence development plans.
Pakistan made at least two separate Air Defence SAM LY-80 HQ-16 System orders. As per the Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production’s (MoDP) disclosure, Pakistan ordered three HQ-16 systems and eight IBIS-150 radars in 2013-2014 for USD $225.77 million and $40 million, respectively. This was followed up in 2014-2015 with a $373.23 million order for six additional HQ-16 systems.
Although the number of launchers in use in each Pakistani Air Defence SAM LY-80 HQ-16 System is not known, it is evident that the HQ-16 has become the armed forces’ mainstay medium-range SAM system. Alongside the newly inducted FM-90/HQ-7 command-line-of-sight short-range SAM, the Pakistan Army has formed a complete Low-to-Medium-Range Air Defence System (LOMADS).
To complete its air defence network, Pakistan has been seeking a long-range SAM system. The CPMIEC HQ-9’s export variant, the FD-2000, appears to be the likeliest option. The FD-2000 has a range of 125 km. However, a high-level Pakistani official reportedly told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that Pakistan was also interested in Russian SAM systems, particularly the S-400. Fiscal limitations and uncertainty will likely compel Pakistan to address its long-range SAM requirements in collaboration with China.
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