June 20, 2018

Quick Facts

PRC/NATO Designation HQ-17 (SA-15 Gauntlet)
Variants None
Mobility and Role Ground-based/road-mobile; short-range air and missile defense
Interceptors and Range 9M331 missile (12 km)

E/F-Band detection radar; range of 25 km while moving

G/H-Band tracking radar; range of 15 km while stopped

Targets Cruise missiles, low-flying aircraft, short-range ballistic missiles
Status/Exports Operational; Exported to Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Ukraine, and Venezuela
Designer/Producer Almaz-Antey Concern/PLA


The Hong Qi-17 is a cold-launched Chinese missile defense system, which most scholars consider to be a reverse-engineered copy of the Russian Tor-M1 aerial defense system. China claims that the HQ-17 has a single-shot kill probability of 90 percent against cruise missiles.[i]Like Tor, the HQ-17 features two radar units with different purposes: its E/F-band detection radar can scan 25 km while moving; once a target is detected, the system stops momentarily and uses its G/H-band 15-km tracking radar to engage a target.[ii]Each HQ-17 unit contains eight missiles and is capable of engaging two targets simultaneously.[iii]The HQ-17 is completely autonomous and has a short reaction time.[iv]The HQ-17 is rugged enough to keep up with frontline units like tank battalions and protect them from drone and helicopter attacks.

Strategic Implications

The HQ-17 fills the role of a short-range, highly-mobile point defense system within the Chinese aerial defense structure. The system was reverse-engineered and produced principally to repel the threat of American and Taiwanese cruise missiles. The HQ-17 can operate in any kind of weather and during nighttime. The chief drawback to the HQ-17 is its high cost, which averages $26 million per unit.[v]Due to its cost, the HQ-17 is not used as widely as the HQ-16. Though it is an extremely capable system, the HQ-17 will lose some of its strategic value with the development of the HQ-29, which is an indigenous point-defense system comparable to the PAC-3.


2007:Venezuela announces its intent to purchase the HQ-17 from China.

2005:The HQ-17 enters service in the PLA.

2003:China begins development of the HQ-29.[vi]

1997:China begins purchasing Tor-M1 systems from Russia, procuring more than fifty systems over five years. China begins development of the HQ-17.

1991:The Tor-M1 achieves initial operational capacity.[vii]

1989:Development of the Tor-M1 is completed.[viii]

1983: Almaz-Antey concern begins producing the Tor system.

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