|Type||Anti-helicopter / anti-tank / air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile|
|Place of origin||People's Republic of China|
|In service||From the late 1990s to the present|
|Manufacturer||China North Industries Group Corporation Elctro-Opticals Science & Technology Ltd.|
|Produced||After late 1990s|
|Weight||≈ 50 kg|
|Warhead||HEAT and others|
|≈ 10+ km|
|ImIR, semi-active laser homing, TV and MMW ARH|
|Air and ground-based|
HJ-10 (HJ = Hong Jian or Hongjian, 红箭, meaning Red Arrow) is a series of indigenously developed and highly classified (as of 2011) Chinese anti-helicopter / anti-tank missiles, they are the primary weapon of the CAIC WZ-10 attack helicopter. Many sources have claimed that this little-known missile is the Chinese equivalent of the AGM-114 Hellfire, although the details of the actual performance of the HJ-10 have yet to be released officially by the Chinese government or other credible sources to confirm such claims. Several derivatives of the HJ-10 have also been developed by China, they are all believed to be in limited service with the Chinese military for evaluation purposes.
The development of the HJ-10 took more than two decades, equal to that of the WZ-10, the platform designed to carry the missile. Some sources have claimed that the development of the HJ-10 benefited from Israeli, Ukrainian and Russian technologies, but according to the official releases of the Chinese government, the system is a completely indigenously developed weapon. Supporters of these claims have used the fact that the prolonged development of the HJ-10 as the evidence of Chinese indigenous development, the Chinese industrial and technological bases were not capable enough in the 1980s and most of the 1990s, which protracted the development time.
The HJ-10 shares the same origin as its primary platform, the CAIC WZ-10, which dates back to 1979, when China begun to explore possible ways to meet the urgent need to check the advance of large enemy armored formations. The resulting analysis of Chinese military establishments suggested that the most effective way in conventional warfare without using nuclear weapons is to attack these formations from the air; an attack helicopter is one of the best choices. China bought eight Aérospatiale Gazelle armed with the Euromissile HOT to further evaluate this option, the result led to the birth of the HJ-10 and WZ-10 more than two decades later. The resulting evaluation of modern warfare with combined arms in the early and mid 1980s had revealed that the current armed helicopters in the Chinese inventory no longer met the requirements of modern combat (because all of them were converted from civilian helicopters. This made them vulnerable in combat situations), the anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM, or anti-tank missiles) these helicopters carried were equally inadequate. Chinese civilian helicopters converted for military use would be operated as scouts at best, but taking on enemy armored formations is a job for a dedicated attack helicopter, carrying more potent anti-armor missiles, such as the AGM-114 Hellfire.
In the early 1980s, the decision was made to develop a missile with a performance similar to the AGM-114. This missile would be used to equip the future Chinese attack helicopter that would be developed concurrently and eventually become the CAIC WZ-10. Just as western research had revealed, China also discovered in its own research that attack helicopters would not only have to face ground fire on the battlefield, but also threats posed by enemy helicopters as well. As a result, an additional air-to-air capability for anti-helicopter missions was added to the original anti-armor capability of the HJ-10, hence the missile was initially named as an anti-helicopter / anti-tank multipurpose missile (反直升机/反坦克多用途导弹).
The developer and manufacturer of the HJ-10 was the Airborne Stabilized Aiming System (机载稳瞄系统) and the optronics fire control system (FCS) of the WZ-10, the platform designed to carry the HJ-10. This followed the similar American practice of weaponry and its FCS being developed by the same company, as in the case of the AH-64 Apache. The developer of the HJ-10 went through several reorganizations during the two decade long design phase, first as the 218th Factory of China North Industries Group Corp, (中国兵器工业集团公司), a small and relatively unknown factory which was hidden in the busy commercial and residential area of the Chongwen Precinct of Beijing, where it had been for more than four decades. In the early 21st century, the 218th Factory would first be expanded to form Beijing China Optical Instruments Ltd. (北京华北光学仪器有限公司), then China North Industries Group Corporation Electro-Opticals Science & Technology Ltd. (中兵光电科技股份有限公司) Part of the protracted development of the HJ-10 was also a reflection of Chinese economic reform. China had followed the Soviet practice of having a separate developer and manufacturer for the same system, but the old practice was abolished and the western approach of having the development and manufacturing done by the same contractor was adopted.
The chief designer was Dr. Li Baoping (李保平), a 1987 graduate of Northwestern Polytechnical University. He was transferred from his original post, the 203rd Research Institute (also known as the missile research institute) in Xi'an to Beijing in 2001 to become the deputy bureau chief of the Electro-Optical Bureau of the China North Industries Group Corp. He was simultaneously the project manager of optronics FCS for the WZ-10. The following year, Dr. Li was named the chief executive officer of the 218th Factory. Under his leadership, the company not only developed the HJ-10 and its derivatives, but also developed the optronics FCS of the WZ-10 during its rapid expansion. As a result, military sales of the company increased the original ¥ 30 million in 2003 to ¥ 20 billion in 2006. Mr. Li had shown his talent dating back two decades when he was rapidly promoted to project manager and the general designer of various research projects shortly after he joined the 203rd Research Institute. These research projects eventually became many subsystems of the HJ-10. China achieved a technical breakthrough in Imagine infrared (ImIR or I2R) and TV (TV/I2R) guidance under Mr. Li's leadership, enabling such Chinese technology to successfully transition from research in laboratories to a practical industrial application. Other research projects eventually became subsystems of the HJ-10 included technological achievements in target tracking for the seeker, imaging, IR scanning, guidance control and autonomous TV seeker, all of which were achieved without any foreign help.
The slow and steady development of the HJ-10 eventually met its greatest bottleneck in 2004. The project was scheduled to be completed by December 20, 2004, but by the end of September, only 27% of the work was done and the remaining 73% had to be completed within eighty days. Nearly everyone lost confidence in the project, many doubted the long-lasting practices of being completely self-reliant without any foreign assistance which dominated the project development. Realizing that obtaining foreign help was impractical and also nearly impossible, China decided to continue by itself. Mr. Li Baoping was tasked with saving the project and the factory, and on September 20, 2004, he set up a bed in an office in the factory. He did not go home until the project was complete. Under Mr. Li's leadership, it was soon discovered that the bottleneck occurred in two areas, the gyro system and the integration of the missile control system. Solutions were provided once the problems were identified, factory work continued in three shifts to meet the schedule. By December 12, 2004, the 218th Factory completed the remaining 73% of the workload, eight days ahead of schedule. Both the factory and the HJ-10 project were saved. Once the technological bottleneck had been overcome, the order was boosted four times in the next year. However, it is unclear if all of these orders were for the HJ-10 only, or its derivatives.
According to the Chinese government, the importance of the HJ-10 program was not only limited to the missile itself, but also in the production techniques associated with it. For example, to meet the developmental needs, various laboratories had to be established, including those for inertial, stabilization, C2 and MEMS technologies; multispectral detection, simulation, digitization, and temperature control. Most of these laboratories had not existed in China previously; their establishment would not only help the development of the HJ-10, but also other missiles and systems, such as the airborne FCS. However, WZ-10, the primary platform originally designed to be armed with the HJ-10, had a slower developmental pace, the ground-launched version of the HJ-10 actually entered service before its airborne counterpart in the early 2000s. Although China had advertised that the HJ-10 could be deployed from various platforms such as airborne, ship-borne and ground-launched vehicles, the only surface version known to exist (as of 2009) is the model based on a high-mobility cross-country truck with a sensor unit mounted on a telescoping arm.
HJ-10 is the ATGM version of the series and it is the first one to be developed. The shape of the HJ-10 is not uniform: a quarter or a third of its length at the front has a smaller diameter than the rest, the seeker is at the front of the missile. There are two sets of cruciform wings totaling eight, mounted at the rear of the missile, immediately next to each other. The first set of four with a trapezoid shape are larger than the second set which are rectangular. A total of eight versions have been reportedly developed, when combining different seekers and warheads. Two types of warheads were introduced. The first was one with a tandem-charge that was designed to defeat reactive armor, the second was the top attack version. Each missile armed with a particular warhead would also be equipped with various seekers, from TV, Imaging IR (ImIR), semi-active laser homing or millimeter wave (MMW) radar. The Chinese have claimed that all seekers are interchangeable, but have not indicated at which level. Most likely this would be achieved at the factory, not in the field. The developer of the HJ-10 has also claimed that the missile is interchangeable between launching platforms in the field when necessary.
The AKD-10 is an air-to-surface derivative of the HJ-10, though like the HJ-10, it can also be launched from various platforms. The development of the AKD-10 is based on the fact that on the modern battlefield, over 70% of the targets are not armored, such as bunkers, fortifications, and vehicles without armor. In recent Chinese airshows, a photo of an AKD-10 unarmored truck platform was shown in presentation materials. The platform is formed by a truck-like vehicle, a retractable launcher/sensor assembly and a rear-facing controller cabin. Launcher/sensor assembly is capable of detecting/attacking target while the vehicle stay behind a building or trees.
This ratio would increase further in urban environments and the dedicated anti-armor missile is not effective against these softer targets. As a result, the AKD-10, a cheaper alternative to the HJ-10, is available for soft targets. Externally, the AKD-10 is almost identical to the HJ-10. Operators use both missiles in the same way.
Some Chinese military enthusiasts have suggested that the AKD-10 is only a temporary measure, as China is developing a multipurpose warhead / fuse similar to that of the BILL 2 Anti-tank guided weapon and the FGM-148 Javelin; a single missile can be used against both armored and soft targets. However, this claim was rejected by China North Industries Group Corp at defense exhibitions, this was because the missile with a multipurpose warhead / fuse would be more expensive, the AKD-10 would still have a place on the battlefield, such as in cramped, mountainous and urban areas where it is difficult for armored forces to deploy. Unless there is someway to bring down the cost of the multipurpose warhead / fuse under development (so far the developer has not found any), the cheaper AKD-10 would thus remain in service in the foreseeable future after the multipurpose warhead / fuse developed for the HJ-10 has been completed. Another reason for the predicted longevity of the AKD-10 is that it can be used, like the AGM-114 Hellfire, as an anti-ship missile against smaller vessels. The armor-piercing HJ-10 is not effective in this role because it would often penetrate both sides of a boat, without inflicting any real damage, while the AKD-10 would be more effective when it explodes, possibly causing enough damage to sink or disable a small ship.
The AR-1 is reportedly another development of the HJ-10. It is a missile specifically designed to be carried by unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV), such as the CH-3, which was unveilled at the 7th Zhuhai Airshow held at the end of 2008, when the AR-1 also made its debut. The AR-1 is similar in size to the HJ/AKD-10, but differs in shape. The diameter of the AR-1 is the same throughout its entire length. Two sets of control surfaces of the AR-1 are placed further apart, as opposed to immediately right next to each other in the case of the HJ/AKD-10. Instead of having a much larger set than the other, the sizes of two sets of control surfaces of the AR-1 are similar. The set of control surfaces at the front is swept instead of trapezoid-shaped like in the HJ/AKD-10, and they are closer to the tip of the missile. Although the developer has claimed that the AR-1 can be armed with several types of seekers, such as TV, Imaging IR (ImIR), and semi-active laser homing, only the TV guided version was shown to the public. The AR-1 cannot be guided by MMW radar, as many internet claims had erroneously reported, because the radars are too heavy to be carried by UAVs. Despite the developer's claim that the AR-1 can adopt different guidance systems, only one type of guidance has been confirmed, which is a combination of inertial guidance + satellite guidance (GPS was shown during its debut). Specifications of the AR-1 are:
- Speed: 1.1 Mach
- Weight: 45 kg (99 lb)
- Warhead: 10 kg (22 lb)
- Range: up to 10 km (6.2 mi)
- Guidance: inertial + satellite guidance
- Armor penetration: > 1,000 mm (39 in)
The AR-1 can be used against various targets from individual soldiers to tanks and small boats. At the 7th Zhuhai Airshow where the AR-1 made its debut, it was not displayed as an independent exhibit, but as a subsystem of the CH-3 UCAV (CH: Cai-Hong, meaning rainbow), whose developer is not the same as that who developed the AR-1 and thus could not provide many details about the AR-1. However, the developer of the AR-1, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) has claimed that the AR-1 missile can also be carried by platforms other than a UCAV. Staff of the CH-3 UCAV developer claimed the AR-1 can be armed with various warheads for different missions, but since the AR-1 was not their product, they did not know the exact types of warheads that have been developed. Judging from its appearance, it is safe to assume that the warhead arming the AR-1 is similar to that of the AKD-10.
At the 9th Zhuhai Airshow held in November 2012, another light air-to-surface missile designated as CM-502KG made it public debut. CM-502KG has an 11-kg warhead similar in size with that of AR-1, but its maximum range is more than twice that of AR-1, up to 25 km. The compact size of CM-502KG enable it to be carried by both the manned aircraft and heavy unmanned aircraft (though mostly the latter), while the lighter AR-1 is carried by smaller unmanned aircraft, as the staff of developer have claimed at the show. There are unconfirmed claims by Chinese military enthusiasts on the internet that CM-502KG is conceptually designed in the same class as Spike NLOS, but such claims has yet to be verified by official sources.
The LJ-7 (LJ = Lan-Jian, meaning Blue Sword) missile is a derivative of a semi-active laser guided HJ-10. The missile has been displayed at Eurosatory 2012 as the Blue Arrow 7. This missile is for anti-tank warfare, armor penetration is up to 1400 mm; it is achieved by increasing the warhead and reducing the fuel, resulting in the reduction of the maximum range. Specifications are:
- Length: 1,775 mm (69.9 in)
- Weight: 46 kg (101 lb)
- Diameter: 170 mm (6.7 in)
- Guidance: semi-active laser
- Range: 2 km (1.2 mi) minimum to 7 km (4.3 mi) maximum
- Accuracy: > 80% at maximum range
- Armor penetration: 1,400 mm (55 in)
- Operating temperature: - 40 to 50 degrees Celsius
- Storage temperature: - 40 to 65 degrees Celsius
- Storage life: 10 years
The BA-7 missile is a derivative of the LJ-7, designed by the same developer, the 203rd Research Institute of CASTC. The BA-7 made its public debut on June 9, 2010, when it was first revealed at Wings of Crack Troop—The 3rd Chinese UAV Conference and Exhibition (尖兵之翼—第三届中国无人机大会暨展览会) held at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution. The BA-7 appears to be identical to the LJ-7, but the seeker of the missile was completely covered by a red cap during the exhibition/conference, and thus not shown to the public. The developer has claimed that instead of an anti-tank missile (which the LJ-7 is), the BA-7 missile is an air-to-surface missile capable of being equipped with different seekers, so it is safe to say that the BA-7 is similar to the semi-active laser guided AKD-10 missile, but with a different seeker. Many military enthusiasts have concluded that the seeker of the BA-7 would either be IR or TV, but such claims have yet to be verified by a more credible source when more information about the missile is released.
- "HJ10 AKD10 anti tank missile launching vehicle". AirForceWorld.com. Retrieved 5 Sep 2011.
- "AR-1 (in Chinese)"
- "LJ-7 (in Chinese)"