TY-90 (Chinese: 天燕-90; pinyin: Tiān Yàn-90; lit. 'Sky Swallow-90') is a Chinese air-to-air missile specifically developed for attack helicopter dogfights. Contrary to the erroneous claims, the missile is not developed from MANPADS missiles such as QW-1 Vanguard, but instead it is designed as an air-to-air missile from the start. It is the world's first helicopter-specific air-to-air missile.
|Type||Air-to-air & surface-to-air missiles|
|Place of origin||China|
|In service||1990’s – present|
|Manufacturer||China Aviation Industry Corporation I|
|Diameter||90 / 98 mm|
|Warhead||3 kg warhead|
|impact / proximity|
|Engine||Solid-fuel rocket motor|
|0.5 – 6 km|
|Flight ceiling||6 km|
|Flight altitude||0 – 6 km|
|Maximum speed||> Mach 2|
|Air & surface|
Chinese determined that the MANPAD missiles converted for helicopter dogfights was not adequate, so a brand-new air-to-air missile specifically for helicopter use was sanctioned, and TY-90 was the resulting product. The 3 kg (6.6 lb) warhead of the missile is specially designed to sever the rotary wings with a single shot, and the missile has all-aspect attack capability. The missile is designed to ensure a single shot would be sufficient to down an opposing attack helicopter, or at least knock it out of action.
At least three additional versions have been developed in addition to the basic version, and two of them being air-to-air versions. The first adopts a dual-band guidance, adding UV to the original IR, while the second adopts an Imaging IR (ImIR) guidance. During the 5th Zhuhai Airshow held at the end of 2004, a ground-launched air defense version appeared, with designation of DY-90, which was essentially the original TY-90, but with an additional option of incorporating a rocket booster to increase range upon customer's request.
A navalized surface-to-air version is also developed, utilizing the FLS-1 system and the basic version with IR guidance, thus providing a fire-and-forget capability in comparison to the case where QW-3 is used. However, this navalized version has not entered service as of 2008, and the reason is reportedly because that the Chinese military wants to wait until the more advanced dual-band or ImIR version to be incorporated into the FLS-1 system, which are currently under development. However, at Zhuhai Airshow, AVIC I, the developer of TY-90 only acknowledged the developing and active marketing such systems, but refused to further confirm whether the Chinese military or any foreign customers had placed any orders, and neither did the developer confirm such developmental works were privately funded by the developer or received any funds from the state or foreign customers.
Despite marketing efforts, as of 2008, there is no known export of TY-90 of any kind.
For air-to-air version:
In 2004, a land based air defense variant of TY-90 is revealed to Chinese public after entering Chinese service in small numbers for sometime. Shengong (Deity Bow, 神弓)-II Air Defense System (SG-II ADS) is the upgrade of its predecessor SG ADS, with a quadruple TY-90/DY-90 missile launcher replacing the original Type 80 23mm AAA gun in its predecessor, resulting in the new SG-II ADS. Like its predecessor, SG-II ADS is also a towed system, and uses all other subsystems of its predecessor with the exception of the gun. Because TY/DY-90 is a fire and forget weapon, no modification is needed for the fire control system of the original SG ADS.
During the 5th Zhuhai Airshow held at the end of 2004, a mobile land based air defense variant of TY-90 was revealed, dubbed as LS ADS, short for Lie-Shou (猎手, meaning Hunter) Air Defense System. Eight TY-90 in two groups of four are mounted in the back of a Dongfeng EQ2050, and the fire control system consists of electro-optics including laser, IR & TV, mounted between the two quadruple launchers.
The LS ADS is developed by Norinco, with Dongfeng Motor Corporation as the subcontractor to develop chassis (vehicle). LS ADS is capable of being air transported, included being slung under helicopters. The system is operated by a team of two, one driver and one weaponry system officer. The system can also being integrated into larger air defense network. A small number subsequently entered PLA service for evaluation purposes.
In 2005, another mobile land based air defense variant of TY-90 was revealed to the Chinese public, named as YT ADS, short for Yi-Tian (倚天, meaning leaning on the sky) Air Defense System. YT ADS is a development of earlier LS ADS designed to specifically address the shortcomings of the latter, namely, the insufficient armor protection, lack of amphibious capability and radar. Like its predecessor LS ADS, the system is also developed by Norinco.
Weaponry of YT ADS is similar to that of earlier LS ADS, with the missile configuration remains the same as that of LS ADS, but additionally, there is an extra 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and 3 smoke grenade dischargers as secondary armament for added protection. WZ551 is used as the chassis of the YT ADS, giving the system amphibious capability and added protection. Additionally, a light solid state 3-D passive phased array radar is added to the fire control system, just above the original electro-optical fire control system, providing the ADS with greater surveillance range. The radar can be folded down for traveling and transportation.