China has reportedly deployed and installed new generation of surface-to- air missiles (SAM) in Zimbabwe. Security pundits has viewed the move a direct preparation for China to defend her vast economic interests in Zimbabwe.
In the wake of West and other superpowers scrambling to move into Zimbabwe for business, China setting up the pace diplomatically and wooing Zimbabwe under the newly elected President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Diplomatic and military sources in the capital Harare revealed that, the surface-to- air missiles deployed have the same technology as the one China deployed to the South China Sea on Woody Island. They comprise of China’s latest HQ-9 missiles.
China and Zimbabwe are on the path of strengthening their diplomatic relations. Firstly, with China’s President Xi Jingping sending his special envoy, Su Hui, to attend President Mnangagwa’s inauguration that was held on Sunday 26th August 2018.
Mnangagwa, later next month is expected to visit China where he will attend the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
According to a revelation by one Asian diplomat, China installation and deploying of HQ-9 missiles in Zimbabwe at strategic locations countrywide is a huge military step in which Zimbabwe seems to have signed up agreement.
By deployment of SAM in Zimbabwe, this is an indicative of possible military cooperation between the two nations in the future. Zimbabwe to benefit security wise by default with China’s SAM deployment.
Senior military officers with Zimbabwe ministry of defense confirmed that SAM technology from China is already in Zimbabwe but could not disclose the locations as it is a matter of national security.
A Look at Deployed HQ-9 Surface-to- Air Missiles
- HQ-9 is a medium-to-long range air defense missile system.
- It is designed and made in China by the Defense Company CPMIEC (China Precision Machinery Import & Export Corporation).
- Has capability to track and destroy aircraft, cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles, and tactical ballistic missiles.
- The missile is a two-stage missile. The missile’s first stage has diameter of 700mm while the second stage has diameter of 560mm.
- Has a length of 6.8m and a total mass of about 2 tons.
- It is armed with a 180kg warhead.
- Has a maximum speed of Mach 4.2 and has a maximum range of 200 km up to an altitude of 30 km.
China’s influence in Zimbabwe, is set to grow stronger under Mnangagwa’s administration as opposed to his predecessor, and former leader, Robert Mugabe who was holding back against the idea of strong Chinese military presence in Zimbabwe.