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New Chinese QW-12 road mobile air defenses reportedly destroyed helicopters, jets and cruise missiles in a recent live-fire test, a development which reportedly demonstrates new tactical and strategic Chinese military capability.
Certainly China is known to operate road mobile air defenses, yet the Chinese government-backed Global Times newspaper says the new QW-12 displayed an anti-decoy capability which “no foreign counterpart has ever shown.”
It does not seem clear what this claim means, or whether it is in fact true, but the Chinese newspaper article clearly hints at targeting technology able to “discern” or “discriminate” decoys from actual targets and in effect “counter” countermeasures.
“The QW-12 missile successfully shot down a specially designed target aircraft built to simulate an attack helicopter by mimicking its infrared signal,” the Global Times writes.
“As the QW-12 missile was approaching, the aircraft released eight decoy flares that resemble the infrared signal of the target aircraft in an attempt to disorient the missile. However, the missile ignored the flares and hit the aircraft.”
Just what kind of discerning seeker technology could this be? Very little is likely known about this, however the claim that it has no equivalent around the world could be an ambitious characterization.
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The US, for instance, has for many years now been developing seeker technology able to track and discern between several moving targets at one time. Details related to how this works or the technological specifics it involves are likely not available for security reasons, yet discriminating seeker technology is progressing very rapidly in the US sphere of missile defense.
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Advanced seeker technology able to distinguish decoys from actual missiles and threats has been a focus of US missile defense for many years now, and massive progress has been reported when it comes to engineering a seeker technology able to make key distinctions in flight and adjust accordingly to identify the accurate target.
The Chinese report then goes a step further and says the QW-12 was able to also track and destroy a 122-millimeter caliber rocket “simulating a jet or a cruise missile that flies at 360 meters a second,” the paper writes.
This technological capability cited in the Chinese paper also mirrors recent US progress in the realm of air and cruise missile defense. The US Army’s Patriot missile, for example, has demonstrated a highly-sensitive, advanced target tracking radar able to find, distinguish and destroy several maneuvering incoming cruise missiles with great accuracy.
Interestingly, the Chinese paper says the new interceptor used a “laser proximity detonator” to explode near the target, bringing it down with “shockwaves and fragments.” A proximity detonation was needed due to the high speeds of the rocket target. Proximity fusing is yet another technology which is now well evolved with the US military when it comes to both offensive and defensive operations.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.