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YJ-12 / CM-302 supersonic ASCM

China's new CM-302 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile is a variation on Russia's Yakhont missile, and the development will worry the US as it tries to impose its authority in the Pacific region. Photos of China's supersonic anti-ship missile "YJ-12" and long-range anti-ship cruise missile "YJ-100" were revealed online in February 2015. Li Li, a military expert, during the China Central Television (CCTV) interview, said both missiles can cause a severe damage to enemy's large surface combat vessels. "The "YJ-12" and "YJ-100" can be regarded as an anti-ship duo," Li commented on the two missiles.

The highlight of the "YJ-12" is not its range but speed. It can reach "Double Three" or "Double Four", namely a range of 300 kilometers at Mach 3 (1.02 kilometers per second) or a range of 400 kilometers at Mach 4 (1.36 kilometers per second). When the missile is launched at low altitude at the terminal attack stage and carries out hide-and-defense penetration at high speed, the enemy can barely response within a period of time. In addition, the missile can carry a warhead of 400-500 kilograms. It will give a heavy strike to large surface vessels. And an operational range between 300-400 kilometers has reached the maximum air-defense range of the surface vessels. The formidable anti-ship ability of the "YJ-12" is the major concern of the United States.

It is reported that the "YJ-12" will be launched from the H-6 strategic bomber and a new type JH-7B fighter bomber of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). In addition, the type-055 guided missile destroyer will be equipped with the "YJ-100" to promote its battle strength. Li said that the H-6K is an upgraded version of the H-6 strategic bomber. It aims to carry cruise missiles under its wings to give long-range attack to large surface targets beyond the defense area. The JH-7B fighter bomber is essentially a see-through type FeiBao (fighter bomber) equipped with the "YJ-12" so as to strike air and sea targets simultaneously.

The type-055 destroyer will be used as one of the largest surface combat vessels, apart from the aircraft carrier, and must be a basic carrier of oversized large-scale missiles. The destroyer, on its front end and rear end respectively mounted with 64 vertical launching systems, can not only carry large-size anti-ship missiles like the "YJ-100", but can also carry missiles for different purposes, including anti-submarine and air-defense missiles.

At the Zhuhai air show in November 2016, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASC) unveiled its CM-302 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile. According to CASC, the missile system can carry a 250kg warhead and has a range of around 290 km. Traveling faster than the speed of sound, it has an accuracy rate of 90 percent. There are only two other supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles on the market, Russia's P-800 Onyx (Yakhont) and the joint Russian-Indian BrahMos supersonic missile, for which the P-800 served as the basis for development. The Yakhont is capable of traveling at up to 2.6 times the speed of sound and has a 300km range. It can carry a warhead weighing up to 200kg, and can be launched from land, sea, air and submarine. The sea-skimming missile is able to fly at altitudes between 5 and 15 meters above sea level, avoiding radar and infrared detection as it approaches its target.

Chinese reporters at the Zhuhai air show were quick to call the CM-302 "the world's best anti-ship missile." However, military expert Vasiliy Kashin told Sputnik 11 November 2016 that while Chinese manufacturers are able to manufacture top anti-ship cruise missiles, their development lags behind rivals. "China has had real success in making supersonic anti-ship missiles, but it shows very modest capability for creating really innovation constructions in this sphere."

"China is still playing catch-up, and the supersonic missiles produced by CASC and China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation (CASIC) are modifications of the two main structures of Russian anti-ship cruise missiles," Kashin said. "In itself, this approach is not so bad. In some ways, China has already overtaken Western countries, including the US, which has only subsonic missiles. However, Taiwan has begun production of its own Hsiung Feng III supersonic missile."

The CM-302 unveiled at the Zhuhai air show is the export version of the YJ-12 which is in service with the Chinese navy. That, in turn, was developed on the basis of Russia's Kh-31 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, which was the first to be able to launch from tactical aircraft. While China has successfully developed an analogue to the Yakhont, it still lacked a rival to heavier supersonic missiles such as the Russian P-700 Granit, which can carry a 750kg warhead, or the P-1000 Vulkan, which can carry a 1,000kg warhead.

"The P-700 is really a small plane weighing seven tons, which flies towards its target up to 2.5 times the speed of sound. The P-700 has its own radio-electric station and fired missiles exchange information during flight and co-ordinate their attack in order to hit the target simultaneously from different directions."

"These missiles have been repeatedly modernized and are capable of firing at land targets. Such heavy missiles are specifically designed for targeting aircraft carriers and have a range of up to 700km," Kashin said. Russia continues with the development of its anti-ship missiles, including the Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile which travels at five times the speed of sound and has a range of 400km.

According to sources in the Russian navy, the atomic missile cruisers Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Velikiy will be fitted with the new equipment during the course of modernization over the couple of years after 2016. Russia is also extending its co-operation with India, and last month it was reported that the two countries are going to double the range of Brahmos to 600km.

Vasiliy Kashin told Sputnik that China's rapid development of anti-ship cruise missile capability has serious consequences for the South China Sea dispute and the US' ability to defend its interests there. "China's advances in missile manufacturing will have a serious impact on the military-political situation in the Pacific, in any case. It is a concern for the Americans." "The US is well aware that as the number of Chinese supersonic missiles is increasing, as is their range. The YJ-12 can be launched from outside the maximum range of the most common American anti-aircraft missiles such as the Standard SM-2, and buying a lot of long-range missiles such as the Standard SM-6 is a huge cost, because each missile costs $4 million," Kashin said.

  • Chinas New YJ-18 Antiship Cruise Missile: Capabilities and Implications for U.S. Forces in the Western Pacific
  • YJ-18 Eagle Strike CH-SS-NX-13

    On 19 September 2013 some Chinese media websites released a clip showing the PLA had been successful in making a Eagle Strike missile dubbed YJ-18. It will travel at subsonic speed initially, and at Mach 3 when approaching the target within last 46 kilometers. What's amazing is that the missile can change its path showing 'S' pattern making it hard to intercept, even for Aegis class ships as claimed by the report.

    "The deployment of the latest YJ-18, together with the YJ-12 and YJ-100, has enabled the Navy to deter any foreign navies from approaching its defense areas," a strategy researcher in the PLA, who asked not to be named, told China Daily 10 November 2015. "Compared with anti-ship ballistic missiles, the YJ-18 and YJ-12 will prove to be more useful, because even though ballistic missiles have a longer range and larger destructive power, their launch preparations are more complicated and their use is more likely to escalate a conflict," he explained. By contrast, anti-ship cruise missiles like the YJ-18 are easy to use and more defensive in nature, the researcher said, adding that China has become one of the top developers of anti-ship cruise missiles in the world. "Few countries have developed advanced anti-ship missiles over the past decade as China has done," he said.

    Cui Yiliang, editor-in-chief of Modern Ships magazine, told China Daily 10 November 2015 the YJ-18 represents the development trend of next-generation anti-ship cruise missile. It has high intelligence and good flight control and can perform sophisticated maneuvers to avoid detection and interception. Their remarks came in response to interest in the YJ-18 generated by a research report released by the Washington-based US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in October 2015. According to the report, the missile has a cruise speed of 966 km/h throughout most of its 540-km range. When it is about 37 kilometers from its target, the warhead will accelerate to a superfast speed of up to Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound.

    "The YJ-18's supersonic speed and long range, as well as its wide deployment on PLA Navy platforms, could have serious implications for the ability of US Navy surface ships to operate freely in the Western Pacific in a contingency," the report said. Yin Zhuo, director of the PLA Navy's Expert Consultation Committee, told China Central Television that no one has succeeded in intercepting a sea-skimming missile even if it is flying at a subsonic speed, so taking down a missile flying at Mach 3 will be very difficult.

    In April 2015, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence confirmed that China has deployed the YJ-18 antiship cruise missile (ASCM) on some Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) Navy submarines and surface ships. The YJ-18s greater range and speed than previous Chinese ASCMs, along with its wide deployment across PLA platforms, would significantly increase Chinas antiaccess/area denial capabilities against U.S. Navy surface ships operating in the Western Pacific during a potential conflict.

    The YJ-18 probably will be widely deployed on Chinas indigenously built ASCM-capable submarines and newest surface ships by 2020, and China could develop a variant of the YJ-18 to replace older missiles in its shore-based ASCM arsenal. This paper assesses the capabilities of the YJ-18 and describes the implications of its wide deployment for U.S. forces operating in the Western Pacific. The YJ-18 most likely follows a sea-skimming flight path as it approaches its target. By flying only a few meters above the sea, the missile attempts to evade detection by surface radar until it breaks the radar horizon 16 to 18 nm from its target.

    According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the YJ-18 has a range of 290 nm. The YJ-18s predecessor on many Chinese submarines, the YJ-82, has a range of about 20 nm. Chinas C4ISR infrastructure might be insufficient to generate and fuse the targeting information necessary to take advantage of the YJ-18s assessed range.13 According to the Department of Defense, It is unclear whether China has the capability to collect accurate targeting information and pass it to launch platforms in time for successful [antiship missile] strikes in sea areas beyond the first island chain.




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