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Land Warfare

PREMIUM: PLA adopts a new anti-tank guided missile

31st March 2021 - 01:44 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Christchurch


A new-type ATGM is launched from a Mengshi 4x4 vehicle. (CCTV)

A modern anti-tank guided missile is among new equipment being adopted by the PLA.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is to field a new ‘third-generation' anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), with the system making a brief appearance in a CCTV-7 channel news story on 8 March.

In the CCTV footage, an ATGM was seen being launched from a rail on a retractable rooftop launcher on a Mengshi CSK181 4x4 armoured vehicle. The nomenclature of the missile was not revealed in the news clip, but it will presumably be part of the HJ and/or AFT series.

The missile has a top-attack capability, and it can be used against both AFVs and softer targets. Footage showed the missile operator seated at a console in the rear of the 4x4 vehicle, with spare rounds stowed behind him.

Its diameter is reportedly greater than existing ATGMs, giving it more potency. Details about the missile’s size, range and warheads are unavailable so far.

An image of the new ATGM, believed to be called the AFT-11, being launched by a Chinese soldier. (Chinese internet)

In March, Chinese social media showed a new ATGM called the AFT-11 being fired by Chinese soldiers from a man-portable launcher. This appears to be a beam-riding missile that could replace the HJ-73 at lower unit levels.

It is still unclear, but the two pieces of news appearing about the same time – the Mengshi-mounted ATGM and the AFT-11 – could be one and the same.

If so, the new ATGM could well prove to be a replacement for the PLA’s ubiquitous HJ-73 ATGM, itself a copy of the Russian 9M14M Malyutka. The CCTV news piece stated the missile would be mounted on a variety of platforms, including IFVs, which is the case with the HJ-73 series.

The PLA has already adopted the HJ-12 fire-and-forget ATGM, but it is heavier, has a longer range and presumably costs a lot more. 

The HJ-10 missile is used aboard the AFT-10 missile carrier vehicle too. The new ATGM presumably slots beneath the HJ-12 in terms of capability and price.

The wheeled HQ-17A surface-to-air missile system is now available for export. (CASIC)

In other news, China has approved the HQ-17A short-range air defence system for export, where it is known as the HQ-17AE. The HQ-17A 6x6 vehicle’s first public appearance was a parade in Beijing in October 2019.

The standard HQ-17 is an air defence system mounted on tracks, whereas the HQ-17A has a 6x6 chassis. It is an obvious copy of the Russian Tor system, of which China received examples of the Tor-M1 in the late 1990s.

The FM-2000 is an export variant of the HQ-17 unveiled at the Zhuhai Air Show in 2018. It carries 16 missiles that have a maximum range of approximately 15km. Shephard is unsure whether the HQ-17AE is the same as, or an improved version of, the FM-2000.

The HQ-17A is a product of the Second Academy belonging to the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC). It can target aircraft, helicopters and UAVs, as well as more demanding targets such as ‘stealth aircraft, supersonic cruise missiles and rockets,’ according to Chinese media.

The new 8x8 armoured ambulance in a PLA exercise at high altitude. (PLA)

Moving on, the PLA has added an armoured ambulance to its extensive Type 08 8x8 vehicle family. The vehicle with a raised roof over the rear compartment can accommodate four patients on stretchers or eight walking wounded. It features an NBC protection system and run-flat tyres.

The Type 08 family in PLA service already includes the ZSL-10 APC, ZTL-11 105mm assault gun, PLL-09 122mm self-propelled howitzer, 155mm SPH, command vehicle, bridge-layer, PGL-12 air defence vehicle, reconnaissance vehicle, assault breaching vehicle, combat engineering vehicle, NBC reconnaissance vehicle, armoured recovery vehicle, electronic warfare vehicle, communication vehicle and ZBL-08 IFV.


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