Tip-off on Myanmar Army’s SY-400 GMLRS acquisition

Tip-off on Myanmar Army’s SY-400 GMLRS acquisition

European defence website Army Recognition published an article titled “Myanmar to receive first batch of Chinese SY-400 short-range ballistic missiles”. We verified the credibility of the report.

They wrote:

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is going to receive the first batch of Chinese-made SY-400 short-range ballistic missiles in very soon after a series of tough negotiations for years. Myanmar will also get some kinds of technology transfer for SY-400 along with some amount of loan to cover as the result of prolonged discussions.

The SY-400 also called DF-12A system in standard configuration has eight containers (canisters) with solid-fuel missiles. Missiles are factory-fitted into these containers and can be stored for years without requiring additional maintenance. Missiles are launched vertically and have a range of about 400 km. SY-400 can use different types of warheads.

SY-400 missile is equipped with GPS/INS guidance system. It is steered to the intended target in the initial flight phase by four control surfaces and stabilizing fins. The missile uses a low lowering rate to extend the range. Multiple missiles can be aimed at different targets.

The missile launcher units are mounted at the rear of on Wanshan 8×8 high-mobility military truck chassis. The truck is powered by a Deutz Diesel engine developing 517 hp. It can run at a maximum road speed of 75 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 650 km.

In December 2017, it was announced that Qatar Armed Forces has acquired SY-400 short-range ballistic missile system from China. The missile system was showcased the same year during the rehearsal of the Qatar National Day parade.

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Defseca.com verified facts:

  • According to Defence sources the Myanmar Army did indeed attempt to purchase the SY-400 as early as 2016-17.
  • A delegation led by a Burmese general visited attended a test firing of the SY-400 GMLRS under secrecy soon after.
  • Without evidence of contract signing or confirmation from NORINCO it is difficult to confirm that any deal between the Chinese arms exporter and the Myanmar Army occurred.
  • According to GlobalSecurity.com “China is calling it as a guided artillery rocket system, hence claiming the 400 km range missile it is not limited by the 300 km range MTCR export restrictions. This claim is without merit, as the MTCR has a 500 kg payload to 300 km limit, regardless of what the rocket is called. Capable of carrying an HE, fragment, sub-munition and EMP payload, other sources give this solid fueled SRBM an estimated range of 200 km, well below the MTCR-mandated 300km restriction”.
  • To introduce a 400 km range rocket would be extremely irresponsible of China considering it is one of the few countries in the world doing business with the Myanmar regime when the rogue country racked up chaos in the region over the atrocities committed on its Rohingya minorities forcing almost a million civilians to seek shelter in Bangladesh.
  • China has acted as a mediator between the two countries owing to its close relations with both nations. Any sale of such powerful weapons system would likely have major diplomatic consequences. Dhaka has so far remained muted to the news reports suggesting it does not believe the report to be true or believes China is supplying a shorter range weapon system with limited capabilities.
  • As with many things the devil is in the detail. We believe the range of the SY-400 supplied to Myanmar is around 180 km. We also believe even if they acquired BP-12A for fire support battle applications China would not export a weapon that exceeds the MTCR export restrictions.
  • According to Popular Science (PopSci.com) the SY-400 system can fire two types of munitions including:
    • 08 x SY-400: 180 km
    • 02 x BP-12A: 300 km
  • According to a 2009 U.S. State Department cable, the “SY400 is marketed as a 150-200-km-range system that carries a 200-300 kg warhead, uses a launcher that carries eight missiles, and is capable of achieving an accuracy of 50 meters”.
  • Without actual photos it will be difficult to ascertain if the Myanmar Army actually purchased the SY-400. Moreover photos can verify the missiles supplied to Myanmar if indeed the system was sold by NORINCO.
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References:

  1. Myanmar to receive first batch of Chinese SY-400 short-range ballistic missiles.
  2. SY-400 Guided Rocket Makes TV Debut.
  3. Artillery: The Ballistic Missiles Of Arabia.
  4. Qatari Army Unveils New China-made Short-range Ballistic Missile System.
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