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CM-401 anti-ship ballistic missile

The CM-401 missile is a new type of high-altitude ballistic anti-ship missile. It adopts near-space trajectory and can carry out full-range hypersonic maneuvering, terminal subduction, high-speed top impact and various platform launches. Mainly used to quickly and accurately attack large and medium-sized ships and ships, formations and port targets. According to company personnel, the system has the characteristics of multi-ballistic synergy, strong damage capability, strong penetration ability and system combat capability.

The 2018 Zhuhai Air Show was the world's first public display of the latest anti-ship ballistic missile technology. When the exhibition was held a few days before the Zhuhai Air Show, a watchful reporter found a marine camouflage missile launching box that had never been seen before. At that time, there was only a launching box, and there was no information and details. There was a lot of speculation about this launching box. Some military observers believed that this is a CM302 (domestic model YJ12A) supersonic anti-ship cruise missile. Also considered to be YJ18 foreign trade type. Everyone believed that this is an anti-ship missile. However, from the size of the launch box, this model was different from any previous model, the length is not large, and the box width is larger than the equipped YJ12A.

When the launching box was completed in the venue, the true content was finally exposed. This missile model is called the CM-401 anti-ship missile. It is a new generation of anti-ship ballistic missile developed by the Aerospace Science and Industry Group. It is also the world's first model to be marketed internationally.

According to the information on the exhibition board, the missile is a high-speed anti-ship missile system with a maximum speed of Mach 6 and an average flying speed of Mach 4. In terms of speed, all the anti-ship tactical missiles in active service abroad are surpased. The anti-ship ballistic missiles adopts a near space trajectory, the whole hypersonic maneuvering flight, and the terminal subduction zenith attack. This high-speed and high-mobility trajectory is very difficult to intercept with the existing anti-missile air defense technology, and its penetration capability is strong.

The CM-401 is not only single-shot, but also can use multiple missiles. A variety of flight ballistic combinations enhance the missile's penetration capability, making the shipboard anti-missile interception system unpredictable. The CM-401 is guided by a radar seeker that can track surface ships or use synthetic aperture (SAR) to image the ground to attack ground facilities such as ports. This maneuverability also allows the warhead to attack large, relatively slow moving targets such as aircraft carriers and other major surface warships and logistics ships. A cross-sectional view of the simulated CM-401 missile exhibited by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) in Zhuhai shows that there is a phased array radar at the front end of the warhead so that the warhead can actively target these types of targets in its final stage.

Aerospace Science and Engineering said that the CM-401 has a secondary land attack function and may also benefit from its ability to break the maneuver. This may be particularly beneficial for the carrier type, adding flexibility to the existing dedicated anti-ship cruise missiles and land attack cruise missiles. The demonstration in Zhuhai in 2018 showed that the missile may be part of the weaponry on the Chinese Type 055 destroyer, which is already a modern and capable design.

The diameter of the CM-401 is similar to that of a conventional short-range tactical ground-to-ground missile. The maximum diameter may be between 600mm and 750mm. This size can be placed in an 8X8 heavy-duty off-road vehicle or mounted on a ship. The launch platform requirements are not high, and very flexible to use. With a range of 15 km to 290 km, it has a long range, high power and strong penetration capability.

From the perspective of the development trend of the world's anti-ship missiles, one is stealth and the other is the direction of hypersonic speed. In the application of anti-ship ballistic missile technology, China is ahead of the world and first developed a long-range anti-ship ballistic missile, which made the US Navy feel pressure. According to internatioanl media reports, China's development of tactical anti-ship ballistic missiles, in the high-speed gliding section, the missile uses a trajectory over water, the missile jumps through the gliding, making the interception system difficult to predict the flight trajectory, launching the interceptor missile is also difficult, in the final self-guided phase, the missile entered a high-speed subduction and “topped” the target.

In the face of such anti-ship missiles, the existing Standard 3 and Standard 6 are difficult to intercept in the US military's active "Burke" class destroyers. For such hypersonic anti-ship missiles, the United States has also proposed to develop similar systems. China revealed this highly advanced anti-ship missile at the air show. It is believed that this kind of powerful anti-ship missile with first-class penetration capability will be very popular.

Considering the size, shape and glide trajectory of the missile, there are also some questions as to whether the maximum range described actually reflects the actual ability of the weapon. Some observers say that the CM-401 or its variant missiles may actually be able to reach targets 1,000 kilometers away, but this seems unlikely given the size of the missile. But this does not mean that the weapon can not fly more than 290 kilometers. China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation is also likely to make export modifications while deliberately reducing the range to avoid the 300-km MTCR range restrictions, while providing remote versions to the Chinese military.

Although its range is shorter than the ground-launched eagle-62 and eagle--12 supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, the higher terminal speed of the CM-401 and its ability to evade enemy defenses will make it a Chinese anti-ship A valuable component of defense, especially in the South China Sea. Anti-ship ballistic missiles are located on any artificial island in China in the region and are capable of hitting targets in most parts of the region.

Chinese mainland launchers can also attack opponents in the East China Sea. China is increasingly finding itself in the East China Sea in conflict with Japan’s territorial claims. In the same position, the CM-401 was able to hit the Taiwan Strait and the other side of the island, further putting the limited surface combatants of the Taiwan Navy at risk. Few countries and regions have any form of naval ballistic missile defense capability.

Equipped with the Type 055 destroyer or other ships, the use of the CM-401 will only increase the ability of the Chinese military to exert its capabilities in the conflict. First, it will open up a new potential carrier for the attack and allow China to launch weapons outside the narrow coverage of the enemy's anti-missile defense system. If these missiles have a range of more than 1,000 kilometers, land-based and sea-based missiles pose a more serious threat in all of these situations. Over time, shipboard retrofits with larger ranges will also challenge China's opponents in the Pacific.

The development of airborne ballistic missiles has also become more and more extensive. It is reported that China itself is also developing an anti-ship modification of the DF-21, with the H-6 bomber as the launching platform. Russia has converted Iskander-M into an air-launched anti-ship weapon, and the MiG-31 "Foxhound" interceptor can also be carried. The CM-401 may prove to be a good starting point for similar air missiles.

Pakistan may be one of its potential customers. Pakistan has been at a disadvantage in terms of the number of ships in the competition with India, which is most likely to become a regional opponent. The Indian Navy hopes to get a second aircraft carrier in 2023 and plans to build a third one after that. Pakistan's land-based CM-401 missiles may force these warships to operate further offshore, during the crisis, and Pakistani warships equipped with these missiles may pose a new type of threat to India's major warships.

Another possible export customer may be Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has purchased China's Dongfeng-3 ballistic missiles in the past, and it is reported that at least it is considered to purchase more modern Dongfeng-21 in recent years. The narrow borders of the Persian Gulf mean that the CM-401 missile may become a powerful weapon against ships and targets in the event of a conflict with Iran. The emergence of CM-401 reflects a greater increase in the interest of the Chinese military and its foreign partners in this capability.

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Page last modified: 06-11-2018 19:03:26 ZULU