FN-6 (FN = FeiNu, meaning Flying Crossbow), is a shoulder-fired missile is a new generation of man portable air defense missile system, with anti-interference performance of infrared bait and excellent background, light and flexible, after launching, high accuracy, lethality large, can effectively defend against low-altitude, low altitude strikes enemy fighters, bombers, helicopter gunships and other targets; from vehicles, small ships, helicopters and other platforms launch.
The FN-6 third generation passive infrared (IR) man portable air defence system (MANPADS) was developed by China, and is their most advanced surface-to-air missile offered in the international market. Specially designed to engage low flying targets, it has a range of 6 km and a maximum altitude of 3.5 km.
The FN-6 is in service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and has also been exported to Malaysia, Cambodia, Sudan and Peru. China's military defense equipment manufactures drew international attention at the 11th International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) and the 2nd International Maritime Defense Exhibition (IMDEX) held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in February 2013. Weapons on display included the FN-6/FN-16 portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). This "theater air defense solution" forms an integrated field of air defense in case of emergencies; the array is equally efficient in fixed combat position air defense.
Based on FN-6, China has developed a number of other MANPADS, such as HN and FY series, as well as other vehicle based short range air defense systems such as FN and FB series. The FN-6 can be equipped with night vision equipment, and can also be equipped with IFF (identification, friend or foe) systems. When equipped with IFF system, the name is changed from FN-6 to FY-6.
MANPADS are IR guided, meaning there is no active signals emissions, so the only way an aircraft can know it is even under attack is if it has a good 360 MAWS installed or if the pilot was lucky enough to see the missile coming. The FN-6 also has a modern seeker which has been designed to resist flares. FN-6 like other third-generation MANPADs uses twin color rossette scan IR seeker which is immune to flares and IRCM "hot Brick".
Chinese-made missiles have downed at least two Syrian army helicopters during the country's ongoing conflict, defense observers told the Global Times 13 March 2013, noting such publicity will raise the image of Chinese defense products on the international arms trade market.
Two videos uploaded online by Free Syrian Army rebel forces show two Mi-8/17 helicopters downed by shoulder-launched, air-defense missiles, or Man-Portable Air-Defense (MANPAD) systems. The first video was shot in the eastern city of Dei ez-Zor, while the second video was shot on March 6 at Menagh Air Base near the northwestern city of Aleppo.
The confirmed sightings of surface-to-air FN-6 missiles developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation sparked a wave of online interest among Chinese military enthusiasts and observers. It's still unclear how the missiles found their way into the hands of the rebels.
"Any bloodshed is regrettable. I am sorry for those who lost their lives during the conflict. In regards to export prospects, Chinese weapons need to engage in more conflicts to prove their value," Daniel Tong, founder of the Chinese Military Aviation website, told the Global Times, adding that exported Chinese weapons have limited real combat experience compared to US and Russian products. The video, which showed a missile flying through clouds before striking a barely visible helicopter, demonstrates the FN-6's capability to hit targets flying close to its combat ceiling in complicated weather conditions, Tong said. "The kills are proof that the FN-6 is reliable and user-friendly, because rebel fighters are generally not well-trained in operating missile systems," he said.
Exported Chinese MANPAD systems have downed targets in several conflicts worldwide, but Syria's civil war marks the first time they have been captured on camera in combat. Tong noted such publicity will boost the profile of China's air defense products as a whole.
It looks like a batch of FN6s have been supplied to the rebels rather than just the odd missile, maybe even with training. Thus making it look more likely that a state is responsible for funneling the missiles to the rebels rather than a few launchers somehow ending up on the black market being smuggled in. China has sold MANPAD and short-range air defense missile systems to a number of countries.
There have been some suggestions that Qatar might have the means and motive to supply the rebels with FN-6s, but there is no confirmation that China sold FN-6s to Qatar or any of the other Gulf states. The United States estimates there were as many as 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in Libya when NATO began its operations to aid rebels in ousting Gadhafi.
Unlike the SA-16 that got loose into the black market are mostly just missile sans control module (that thing which detachable, have to be attached to the missile tube to form a fully functional unit), those FN-6 the rebels got their hands on are full sets. Firing these MANPADS requires some training and experiences, there's no way some civilian Syrian rebels could just go pick one up and fire it.
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