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NORINCO HJ-8 (Hongjian-8) (Red Arrow-8) Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) (China)

Despite its Cold War roots, the Chinese HJ-8 is still a force on the modern battlefield.

 Entry last updated on 10/19/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  NORINCO HJ-8 (Hongjian-8) (Red Arrow-8)  
Picture of NORINCO HJ-8 (Hongjian-8) (Red Arrow-8) Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) (China)

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-?).

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

Service Year: 1985
Type: Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM)
National Origin: China
Manufacturer(s): NORINCO - China / Kahuta Research Laboratories - Pakistan

Design (Internal, Dimensions and Weights)

Firing Action: SACLOS Wire-Guided; Solid-Fuel Rocket
Available Caliber(s): 120mm
Ammunition Count / Feed: Single-Shot; Reusable Tube
Overall Length: 1,566 mm (61.65 inches)
Barrel Length: 1,566 mm (61.65 inches)
Weight (Empty): 55.12 lb (25.00 kg)
Sighting Assist: Included Optics (SACLOS)


Muzzle Velocity: 720 feet/sec (219 m/sec)
Typical Range: 14,760 feet (4,499 meters; 4,920 yards)

Global Operators / Customers / Users

Albania; Bangladesh; Bolivia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; China; Egypt; Ecuador; Iraq; Kenya; Malaysia; Morocco; Pakistan; Peru; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Syria; United Arab Emirates; Uruguay; Zimbabwe

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

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.

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