| PGZ-88 SPAAG|
|Armor||Front 7 / Side 4 / Rear 2 / Top 1|
|Air Detection||Very Good|
|Road Speed||110 km/h|
|Fuel Capacity||600 L|
|Type||Mechanized, Armored, Motorized, Support|
|Twin Autocannon||PLA 37-2 (37mm)|
By the beginning of the 1980's, the PLA was concerned that its existing anti-aircraft infrastructure was insufficient for the demands of mechanized warfare. The existing PGZ-63 and PGZ-80 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns relied on manual target acquisition and fire-direction, making them unsuitable for engaging high performance jet aircraft.
Consequently, development was started in 1979 on a new, radar-directed anti-aircraft system that could match the performance of foreign analogues such as the West German Gepard, or the Soviet Shilka. The new weapon was mounted upon the chassis of a Type 69 tank, with a new, boxed-shaped turret being installed, which mounted twin Type 76 37 mm naval guns. The guns, similar to those used on the older PGZ-63, had a maximum slant range of 3,500 m, and had a combined rate of fire of about 360 rounds per minute, with reloading being assisted by an automatic loader. This ensemble was aimed by a fold-able, top-mounted radar, which had range of up to 15 km; overall reaction time for the system was said to be 6-11 seconds.
Development of the new weapon system, designated the PGZ-88, was prolonged, and took until 1989 to be completed. By the time the PGZ-88 was ready for service, it's armament and electronics were obsolete. In addition, it's performance was judged to be sub-par; curiously for a radar-direction weapon, it was noted as having poor capability at night and in bad weather. As a result, the PGZ-88 never entered full rate production, with only a handful of pre-production vehicles entering PLA service.
In Red Dragon, the PGZ-88 is a low-tier prototype SPAAG in the Chinese inventory. Compared with similarly-priced Soviet ZSU-23-4V1 Shilka, the PGZ-88 has substantially greater range, but suffers from having a lower rate of fire.
With the long reach of its guns – 2800 m against helicopters – the PGZ-88 is well-suited to protecting ground assets from helicopter gunships. It can out-range TOW or HOT missile equipped helicopters, and may engage Hellfire equipped helicopters at parity. The vehicle's substantial armor protection – at least by the standards of SPAAGs – also permits it a degree of protection from rocket-firing gunships, although it is still inadequate against most ATGMs. The low rate of fire of its guns, however, may make engagement of multiple targets problematic.
This low rate of fire also impacts the vehicle's ability to engage fixed-wing aircraft. Despite its generous engagement range (2625 m), the PGZ-88 is generally incapable of inflicting heavy or fatal damage to fixed wing aircraft, especially those with substantial ECM protection. While generally unable to deter such threats on its own, the system may still be useful when partnered with missiles such as the HQ-61, with the guns serving to 'finish-off' aircraft that have been engaged by the SAM.
As a radar-guided weapon, the PGZ-88 is vulnerable to attacks by SEAD aircraft, a fact compounded by its relative impotence against aircraft. As such, careful management of this unit is required to ensure its survival in the face of enemy countermeasures.
|Type||Twin Autocannon||No Weapon||No Weapon|
|Range|| Ground = 1050 m|
Helicopters = 2800 m
Airplanes = 2625 m
|Rate of fire||348 r/min|