China’s State media has broadcast what it said were tests of an updated short-range surface-to-air defence missile system, carried out by the Xinjiang military command in the “Karakoram plateau region” near the India border.
The footage of the tests, in a high altitude region above 4,500 m, was broadcast on August 15, and “appeared to be HQ-17A air defence missiles, part of an integrated system that can fit in a single vehicle,” the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
The newspaper quoted an unnamed military observer as saying the “show of deterrence” was possibly aimed at India-U.S. high-altitude exercises to be held in October. The live-fire drill was broadcast on State channel China Central Television (CCTV) on the morning of August 15 as India marked the 75th anniversary of Independence.
The CCTV report said the “new type of surface-to-air missile” hit a low-flying target plane. Yue Gang, a retired People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Colonel, told the Post the drills “involved a new type of HQ-17A short-range air defence missile, part of a system commissioned by the Xinjiang command in May last year”. “Improvements have also been made to the performance of its search and radar tracking ability,” he said.
“Now the PLA is carrying out high-profile fire strike exercises on the plateau, with the aim of deterrence and countermeasures,” he added.
China’s State media have continued to highlight the PLA’s efforts to improve infrastructure along the western borders and particularly in forward areas close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), even as the ongoing talks between India and China to resolve the stand-off along the LAC appear to have reached a deadlock.
The PLA has so far shown little inclination in restoring the status quo prior to its April 2020 transgressions, with talks yet to make headway in the remaining friction areas in Hot Springs, Demchok and Depsang.