The Pakistan Army Air Defence Corps has recently received a significant boost in its capabilities with the acquisition of the high-to-medium range air defence system (HIMADS) HQ-16FE. This cutting-edge system boasts an impressive operational engagement range of 160 kilometres against fighter-sized Radar Cross Section (RCS) targets.
The system, designated LY-80EP, is composed of an AESA Tracking Radar capable of tracking targets with fighter jet-sized RCS at distances of up to 250 kilometres. Additionally, it features a surveillance radar with the capability to detect targets at an astonishing range of 300 kilometres. This acquisition marks a milestone for the Pakistan Army, as the LY-80EP system will be its longest-ranged air defence system to date.
Moreover, the HQ-9P air defence system, with an engagement range of 125 kilometres, further complements the country’s air defence capabilities. This procurement aligns with the broader goal of establishing a comprehensive, integrated, and layered air defence umbrella.
One of the most striking features of the newly acquired system is its mobile nature. This mobility allows Pakistani commanders to not only provide theatre/area defence for the homeland but also establish anti-access area-denial (A2AD) zones on the frontline, showcasing its adaptability to varying strategic requirements.
The system’s advanced design is tailored for intercepting 4th and 5th generation fighters, short-range/tactical ballistic missiles, and supersonic cruise missiles, with a remarkable engagement range of over 150 kilometres. Notably, the missile itself represents a complete redesign from other HQ SAM variants. It possesses an aerodynamically clean design, dual active guidance modes, and the ability to execute high off-boresight manoeuvres, including 90°+ turns mid-flight with forces of up to 35 g.
It is worth noting that the missile is a product of the Chinese state-owned Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, indicating the collaborative efforts in advancing Pakistan’s air defence capabilities.
However, despite these significant advancements, it’s important to highlight that Pakistan currently lacks operational Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capabilities or Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs). This suggests a certain limitation in long-range strategic missile technology.
An incident that underscores the significance of these upgrades occurred when India reported the accidental launch of a BrahMos missile, a situation Pakistan’s previous defence systems were trash in front of s400 or Israel’s iron dome and unable to detect and defend against, even though the missile was unarmed.
In conclusion, the recent acquisitions and upgrades in Pakistan’s air defence capabilities represent a substantial leap forward in the country’s ability to safeguard its airspace and protect vital assets. These systems provide a robust defence against a wide array of aerial threats, significantly bolstering Pakistan’s national security posture.