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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Land-Attack Cruise Missiles (LACM) - History

The X-600 long range cruise missile project is believed to have started as early as 1977. In the mid-1980s, a 8359 Research Institute was established for cruise missile development, and also a Cruise Missile Institute of China. The Cruise Missile Institute is probably a new name for the Hai Ying Electro-Mechanical Technology Academy, which had developed the Hai Ying -1 and Hai Ying-2 (Silkworm) family of anti-ship missiles.

CAMA – China Airborne Missile Academy is the design organization for China's UAV’s, ALCM’s and ALCM’s.

In 1991, the Gulf War broke out. "Tomahawk" cruise missiles debuted: low altitude flight, stealth penetration, "acupuncture" precision strike, thousands of miles raid, beheading a rival ... ... for a time, this shocked the world. But how could China engage in cruise missile bombing? There were large manpower and material needs, a huge technical gap. It was a daydream to China at that time. At that time, the state leaders firmly stated: "We must engage in such a missile." Immediately afterwards, a "national team" led by China's Aerospace Science and Industry Institute as the leading research and development unit quietly assembled and the cruise missile development gate opened urgently.

The PLA took note of the magnificent performance of these weapons and focused its efforts on acquiring cruise missiles and their relevant technologies since the early 1990s. China is keen to develop its own Tomahawk-like long-range cruise missiles to deliver conventional and unconventional payloads. This is a time-consuming, technically challenging, and costly endeavour, but it offers China an opportunity to strengthen its manufacturing and technical capabilities, and it could become a source of national pride.

Drawing inspiration from the experience of the development of the airship missiles, the Third Institute boldly innovated and scientifically predicted the future development of the weaponry and equipment. Taking the key technologies of the card neck as a breakthrough point, the institute proposed a pre-research program aimed at the international advanced level at that time.

The Sword-10 is the first type of ground-to-ground cruise missile developed by China and the first missile in the Sword series. The successful development of Sword-10 made China the third country in the world to independently develop, manufacture and equip cruise missiles after the United States and the Soviet Union.

Reports of uncertain reliability claimed in the late 1990s that China was working on several advanced ground-based LACMs: the Changfeng ["Long Wind"] CF-1 and CF-2 [also termed Chang Feng and Chang Feng-JIA], and Hong Niao (HN)-1 and HN-2 missile, with a range between 400 km and 1,800 km, with conventional and possibly nuclear warheads. The ground-launched Hong Niao missiles were said to be fitted with tandem solid-rocket boosters.

In 1995 it was reported that China was funding Israeli development of an air-launched cruise missile based on the Israeli Delilah anti-radiation attack drone, with a 230-mile range. The new missile reportedly was to be larger than the Delilah, while retaining its basic configuration. The range and CEP of the Chang Feng air-launched LACM are claimed to be 600km and 15m, respectively, and Chang Feng -JIA 1300km and 5m. Similar accuracy claims are made for the Hong Niao family of missiles, though these would appear to be rather optimistic.

In May 2001 an air-to-surface missile was reportedly launched from an H-6 bomber. The test, reportedly the first time China had launched the new cruise missile, was apparently deemed successful by US defense and intelligence agencies. The missile, reportedly an extended-range version of the C-802 anti-ship missile, was assessed as being capable of carrying a 500-kilogram warhead to a range of at least 150 kilometers.

The first operational long range Chinese cruise missile, the Hong Niao ("Red Bird") may have entered service as early 1992. The HN-1 was reportedly tested in mid-1999 to a range of 600km. The Hong Niao reportedly derived from the Russian KH-65SE/SD, a short-range version of the Russian Kh-55 [AS-15 KENT] 3,000-kilometer-range strategic cruise missile. The HN-1 apparently has straight folding wings at the mid-body, with a folding tailplane rear assembly. The engine is mounted in the rear of the missile, with an air inlet under the fuselage. Some sources suggest that this missile features inertial guidance with a terrain following radar altimeter, and scene-matching terminal guidance. The missile is variously reported to be able to carry a nuclear, high explosive, or cluster munition warhead.

Reportedly the HN-2 version, with an improved engine and range extended to at least 1,500 kilometers (930 miles), was introduced as early as 1996. In February 2000, Lin Chong-pin, vice chairman of the cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council, stated that Beijing had also developed a mid-range "Hongniao 2" cruise missile. According to an August 2001 report of doubtful reliability, PLA Navy vessels involved in June 2001 exercises test-fired for the first time the Hongniao-2 cruise missiles, which was claimed to have a range of 1,000 km. According to some reports, the HongNiao-II may have a range of 1,800km, with an inertial and terrain-following guidance system.

Lin Chong-pin also stated in February 2000 that Beijing was developing a long-range "Hongniao 3" cruise missile, with a range of 2,500 kilometers, similar to the Tomahawk cruise missile. Other reports claim that the HN-3 is a 3,000-km-range strategic LACM, capable of both ground-based deployment and of installation on old H-6 bombers and the new-generation HJ-7/FBC-1 bombers. This missile might enter service after 2005.

Hong Niao / Red Bird

CAMA – China Airborne Missile Academy is the design organization for China's UAV’s, ALCM’s and ALCM’s. Ian Easton believes that the CJ-10 is actually the same missile as the HN-2, and that the HN-3 is the DH-10A.


Surface-LaunchedHong Niao-1Hong Niao-2Hong Niao-3
Air-LaunchedChang Feng 1Chang Feng 2CJ-20
Chang FengChang Feng JIA
Operational? 1992? 19962015 +
Range600 km1,000 - 1,800 km 2,500 -3,000 km
Accuracy? 15 meters??? 5 meters
length6.4 meters ??
diameter~0.5 m??
wingspan 3 meters??
total weight 1,400 kilograms??
warhead weight 300-400 kg??
yield? 90 kt ??

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Page last modified: 08-05-2019 18:13:01 ZULU