JANE'S DEFENCE WEEKLY - MARCH 02, 2005
China develops mobile air defence system
CHRISTOPHER F FOSS JDW Correspondent
China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) is developing a highly mobile air defence system (ADS) called Yitian.
Yitian is based on the latest version of the NORINCO WZ 551 series 6 x 6 armoured personnel carrier (APC), which has been in service with the
People's Liberation Army for some years and has also been exported in small numbers.
A turret, armed with four TY90 series surface-to-air missiles located either side of the sensor package, is mounted on the upper part of the WZ 551
chassis. The sensor package consists of a day/thermal sighting system, above which is mounted a new 3D radar that can be folded down into a horizontal
position for travelling.
According to NORINCO, the 3D radar has a detection range of 18 km and a tracking range of 10 km. Targets can be tracked either in the electro-optic
mode or in the radar mode with the latter being especially useful when there is a threat of high electronic countermeasures.
Yitian features an automatic target tracking and engagement capability and can engage targets with a maximum velocity of up to 400 m/s, with a claimed
reaction time of six to eight seconds.
The TY90 solid-propellant missile has a maximum effective range of 300 m to 6,000 m with altitude coverage from 15 m up to 4,000 m.
The fire-and-forget missile is transported and launched from a box-type container and has four fins at the rear and four control surfaces at the
Once the missiles have been fired, new missiles are reloaded using a support vehicle.
Standard equipment for the WZ 551 chassis includes a nuclear, biological and chemical warfare protection system and a central tyre pressure regulation
system that allows the driver to adjust the tyre pressure to suite the terrain being crossed.
A 12.7 mm machine gun is mounted at the front right side of the vehicle for local defence, with a bank of three electrically operated smoke grenade
launchers mounted either side of the turret.
Optional equipment includes an identification friend-or-foe capability and the system would typically be integrated on an overall air defence system,
which could allocate targets to a particular weapon system.
Although Yitian is being marketed on a WZ 551 series 6 x 6 APC chassis, it can also be integrated onto other chassis tracked or wheeled.
In concept, the NORINCO Yitian ADS is very similar to the French Thales Air Defence Crotale New Generation, which is in service with the Finnish
Defence Force based on a Patria Vehicles XA series 6 x 6 chassis.
NORINCO WZ 551 armoured personnel carrier (Jane's Armour and Artillery)
The Yitian air defence system is mounted on a NORINCO WZ 551 series 6 x 6 chassis