Beijing: China is failing to meet the needs of Pakistan's air defence and this is highly evident by the crippling state of Islamabad's surface-to-air missile systems supplied by Beijing five years ago.

Weapon systems need a sufficient amount of spare parts to be fully operational however, China is unable to supply the same which is raising severe questions on the logistical shortcomings of Beijing, reported Difesa Online, a website that covers geopolitical news.

If this continues, it will pose a serious risk for Pakistan which will find itself in trouble to protect its national skies. Notably, in 2017, the HQ-16 (LY-80) medium-range surface-to-air missiles were acquired by Pakistan. This is a key defence system for Pakistan.

Looking at the configuration, the HQ-16 is equipped with a vertical launch system. This gives it 360° coverage and the ability to operate in a complicated geographic environment.

However, as per the media portal, as many as 477 defects have emerged in the system. This has given a major blow to Pakistan's air defence. In a bid to secure its defences, Pakistan has put in efforts however this is to no avail.

In May-June 2021, the Chinese company deployed a team of technicians to address the issue and repair the defects. The result was fruitless as the issues persisted as they were "too extensive to fully address them."

What went wrong? There were not enough parts to tackle the reeking situation of Pakistan's missiles. Next up. A second team of Chinese engineers were sent in the following October and that team too was unable to complete the job.

Pakistan seems to have no way out of this vicious cycle as the economy of the country is making it paralysed to pressure Beijing. Hence the only "right" thing for Pakistan to do is to continue to acquire Chinese weapons.

The country is facing a poor economic situation and to make matters worse the purchase of 6 more HQ-16 systems has already been planned.

The missile system is mounted on a China-designed 6x6 high-mobility chassis rather than tracked platforms, providing ease of maintenance and improved mobility on the road.

The missile system would be able to intercept aerial targets at altitudes between 15 km and 18 km. The maximum interception range for aircraft is 40 km, while for cruise missiles it would be between 3.5 km and 12 km.

The manufacturer, China Aerospace Science and Technology, would argue that the probability of killing is 85 per cent against aircraft and 60 per cent against cruise missiles. The missile is credited with a speed greater than Mach 4.

The HQ-16 system includes an IBIS-150 3D target search radar, a solid state S-band Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA) radar with a range of up to 150km, PESA tracking and guidance in multiple L-bands radar and missile launchers six-cell vertical. Each L-band tracking radar has a range of 85km and can detect up to six targets, including four. An HQ-16 battery includes a location radar and four missile launchers.

Pakistan has placed at least two separate HQ-16 orders. According to the Pakistani Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) disclosure, Pakistan ordered three HQ-16 systems and eight IBIS-150 radars in 2013-2014 for USD 225.77 million and USD 40 million, respectively.

This was followed up in 2014-2015 with an order for USD 373.23 million for six additional HQ-16 systems. The HQ-16 was hailed as "the beginning of a new era in the nation's air defence."