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NORINCO HJ-8 (Hongjian-8) (Red Arrow-8)

Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM)

Despite its Cold War roots, the Chinese HJ-8 is still a force on the modern battlefield.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 7/8/2019
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Year: 1985
Manufacturer(s): NORINCO - China / Kahuta Research Laboratories - Pakistan
Roles: Anti-Tank/Anti-Material/Breaching;
Action: SACLOS Wire-Guided; Solid-Fuel Rocket
Caliber(s): 120mm
Sights: Included Optics (SACLOS).
Overall Length: 1,566 mm (61.65 in)
Barrel Length: 1,566 mm (61.65 in)
Weight (Unloaded): 55.12 lb (25.00 kg)
Muzzle Velocity: 720 feet-per-second (219 meters-per-second)
Effective Range: 14,760 ft (4,499 m; 4,920 yd)
Operators: Albania; Bangladesh; Bolivia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; China; Egypt; Ecuador; Iraq; Kenya; Malaysia; Morocco; Pakistan; Peru; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Syria; United Arab Emirates; Uruguay; Zimbabwe
With design work initially begun during the early part of the 1970s, the arrival of the indigenous Chinese HJ-8 Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) weapon was delayed by events of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). This then led to a delayed adoption of the capable battlefield weapon until 1985 to which manufacture has since been managed by the NORINCO complex in China. The weapon has also been taken on in local (licensed) production by the Pakistani military as the "Baktar-Shikan". Despite its Cold War roots, the HJ-8 remains a potent tank-killer today.

Long reliant on Soviet imports regarding military goods, there proved a shift in the 1960s and 1970s in China to develop its own military-industrial complex. This spawned a slew of localized products - some good some bad - that has, over the decades, made for a more independent Chinese military. The HJ-8 is, in many ways, a product of this period and its thinking.

The HJ-8 is detailed as a "second-generation" ATGM system. It is designed to confront enemy armor at range, usually from cover, and can even penetrate protection offered by modern use of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks. The weapon is a complete system consisting of a launch tube, missile, optics kit and mounting assembly. While it can be fired from a standard heavy-duty tripod, it can also be affixed to military vehicles as well as aircraft to be used in the same armor-defeating role as intended. A typical operating crew is two personnel.

The tube fires a solid-fuel rocket that sports a lengthened penetrator on the warhead cone and four stabilizing fins. Operational ranges reach out to 19,600 feet (approximately 6 kilometers) in extreme-range cases and guidance comes in the form of operator-induced signals sent via a wire attached from the launched rocket to the launcher itself. As such, the weapon remains a "Line-Of-Sight" (LOS) anti-tank measure limited in range by the length of wire. Many LOS ATGM systems today (2014) have been succeeded by more potent "fire-and-forget" solutions. The HJ-8 missile itself weighs some 25 kilograms and features a length of 1,566mm with a diameter measuring 120mm. Speeds reach up to 721 feet-per-second.

The HJ-8 originated in its early production mark under the base "HJ-8" designation. This was followed by the improved HJ-8A with extended range and penetration values. The HJ-8B serves as a helicopter-launched form while the HJ-8C is intended to counter ERA use on modern Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) and similarly armored vehicles. The HJ-8D features a tandem warhead charge for improved penetration and the HJ-8E features an all-new motor system with extended engagement ranges. The HJ-8Fis a "bunker-buster" derivative and the related HF-8FAE is given a thermobaric warhead. The HJ-8L is a lightened model and the HJ-8H is a modernized HJ-8E form. The HJ-8S variant is intended for the anti-ship role.

Operators of the HJ-8 system (beyond China and Pakistan) includes Albania, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Ecuador, Kenya, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, the UAE, Uruguay and Zimbabwe. Bosnia forces utilized the HJ-8 in combat during the Bosnian War (1992-1995) and Syrian rebel groups are actively fielding the HJ-8 as a potent tank-killer against Syrian government armor in the ongoing Syrian Civil War (2011-?).

Variants / Models

• HJ-8 - Base Series Designation; original production mark.
• HJ-8A - Upgraded model with increased range and penetration.
• HJ-8B - Helicopter-launched variant
• HJ-8C - ERA-counter model
• HJ-8D - Modernized form with tandem charge warhead
• HJ-8E - Modernized HJ-8B and HJ-8C models; increased range.
• HJ-8F - "Bunker-Buster" Model
• HJ-8FAE - Thermobaric warhead
• HJ-8L - Lighter-weight model
• HJ-8H - Modernized HJ-8E models
• HJ-8S - Anti-Ship variant
• Baktar-Shikan - Pakistani Army locally-produced variant.
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