Air defense / SAM systems / Chu-SAM


General Facts

  • TYPE
    SAM system


    Type 3 / Type 03
    SAM Chu-Samu

    1990 - 2003

    Technical Research and Development Institute and Mitsubishi

    2005 - present

    Japan - Mitsubishi


    About 470 billion Yen per battery

    Good missile maneuverability and range
    High quality target acquisition
    Highly mobile system


The Chu-SAM is a surface to air missile system of Japanese origin. It was developed in the 1990’s to replace the aging Hawk system in Japanese service. It is an advanced medium range system which fills the gap between the indigenous Tan-SAM and US Patriot in Japanese service. The Chu-SAM, which stands for medium SAM, is also known as the Type 03 and SAM-4.


The Chu-SAM missile is a single stage solid propellant missile that is hot launched from its vertical launch container. It has clipped cruciform control surfaces at the front and rear and also employs a thrust vectoring nozzle. The system as a whole is based on 8x8 cross country trucks, including command center, radar unit, launcher and transloader. The trucks are not armored and the system is not protected in any way.


The system employs an active phased array antenna and tracks up to 100 targets while being able to target 12 of them at the same time. A data link guides the missile towards a predicted area of intercept where the missile’s own seeker takes over. The active radar homing seeker on the missile is derived from the Type 99 air to air missile.


The Chu-SAM is capable of engaging modern aircraft, helicopters and cruise missiles. The maximum range is 50 km while the maximum altitude is 10 km. The speed is about Mach 2.5. Each launch vehicle carries six missiles and up to 12 targets may be engaged at a time.


The 8x8 cross country trucks provide the Chu-SAM with a good level of mobility, especially when compared to the Hawk system it is replacing. Although highly mobile the Chu-SAM is not considered a self-propelled SAM system as it requires preparation time into and out of action.


The Chu-SAM is in service with Japan and is slowly replacing the Hawk system. It is operational since 2005 and production continuous at a low pace. As with all Japanese military systems it is not sold on the international market and it has not been exported.


Chu-SAM missile

The Chu-SAM missile comes in only one version. It has a conventional layout with the seeker in the nose, followed by four steerable wings at the front, the warhead, the solid propellant engine, four large steerable wings at the rear and a thrust vectoring nozzle.

TypeSurface to air missile
Diameter0.32 m body
Length4.90 m
Weight570 kg
GuidanceActive radar homing seeker plus inertial guidance and mid flight command link
Warhead73 kg warhead section
PropulsionSingle-stage solid propellant rocket motor
SpeedMach 2.5
Rangeover 50 km maximum
Altitudeup to 10 km
Engagement envelope-

Chu-SAM launch vehicle

The Chu-SAM launch vehicle is based on a Japanese 8x8 truck and carries six missiles ready to launch. In the firing position jacks are lowered and the missiles are raised into vertical position.

Chu-SAM radar vehicle

The Chu-SAM radar vehicle is based on a Japanese 8x8 truck. In the firing position four jacks are lowered and the active phased array radar is elevated.

Chu-SAM command center

The Chu-SAM command centers are based on two 4x4 Toyota Mega Cruiser vehicles. Both have a cabin in which radar data is analyzed and missile launch is controlled.

Chu-SAM transloader vehicle

The Chu-SAM transloader vehicle is based on a Japanese 8x8 truck and carries four missiles and a crane. The missiles cannot be launched from this vehicles. When the crane is operated four outriggers are used.

Chu-SAM generator vehicle

The Chu-SAM generator vehicle is based on a Japanese 8x8 truck and has four reels with power lines at the rear. The generator provides power for prolonged continuous operation.


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