Helicopter gunships are becoming increasingly threatening in modern wars, but surface-to-air missiles and antiaircraft artillery are not very efficient in fighting helicopters. One method is to rely on helicopters to fight helicopters. This requires helicopters to carry air-to-air missiles that are both light-weight (in order to carry more) and powerful (because present-day helicopter gunships have thick armors). Air-to-air "Stinger" and "Sidewinder" missiles are used on two types of US helicopters. The former is an improved one-man air defense missile with a small warhead. The latter is an improved air-to-air missile for fighter planes, and its weight not only restricts the number of missiles that can be carried but also affects the air combat maneuverability of the helicopter.
China has developed the "Tianyan (Celestial Swallow)-90" which is both light-weight and powerful. As the first air-to-air missile for helicopters, this missile does not have the drawbacks of helicopter air-to-air missiles of other countries, which are heavy and not very powerful because they are developed from surface-to-air missiles or missiles for fighter aircraft, and their target seekers are not suitable for hitting helicopters which operate in near earth environments where there are strong sources interference. It also is claimed to have the advantages of long range, extended detection range and robust anti-jamming capability.
Contractor Entered Service Total length Diameter Wingspan Weight Warhead Weight Propulsion Maximum Speed Maximum effective range Guidance mode Single-shot hit probability