China Shows New Hypersonic Missile On Type-055 Cruiser For First Time
The Chinese Navy, formally known as the PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy), has been showing off its maturing capabilities. A video released today and shared on social media shows a new missile being launched from a Type-055 Renhai Class cruiser.
The new missile appears to be the hypersonic YJ-21 anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). It makes Chinese Navy cruisers arguably the most heavily armed surface combatants in the world.
Way back in September 2020 a U.S. Department of Defense report suggested that China may put anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) on its new cruisers. So it is not unexpected. These are the weapons dubbed ‘Aircraft Carrier Killers’ because of their massive hitting power.
The new missile outwardly resembles the CM-401 design, with the addition of a large booster phase. The CM-401 is roughly analogous to the Iskander missile. It is possible that the new missile is related to the older CM-401 family, although the resemblance may be coincidental. And it may have a smaller diameter.
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China’s land-based anti-ship ballistic missile is the CSS-5 Mod 5, better known as the DF-21D. The 35 ft long missile has a maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) which allows it to adjust its course to hit the ship. It has a range of over 900 miles and is specifically intended to threaten aircraft carriers. The longer ranged DF-26 missile is also believed to be capable to targeting warships. Currently these missiles are shore based using a mobile truck launchers.
There is also an air-launched ASBM, carried by modified H-6 bombers. New photos of this have emerged also.
Arming cruisers with an ASBM could be a game changer, extending their reach further into the Pacific. Combined with news that China is planning a naval base in the Solomon Islands and we have the real emergence of a global power.
A ship-launched ASBM has been on the cards for several years. So no great surprise. However there have also been a few minor indications up to this point. In 2021 information on the Chinese VLS (vertical launch system) was shared. An export model, the HT-1E, care should be taken translating it into PLAN terms. However, among the missiles shown with the VLS, several are relevant.
Firstly, in a visualization shown a large missile, generally matching the new type, is shown. Also seen is the HHQ-9 air-defense missile, which is a known quantity. That is 6.3 meters long, and from that we can estimate that the new missile is about 8.3 meters long. This generally matches expectations.
Note that the new missile is shown in the extended-length VLS. This would limit which ships can carry it.
However a model of the VLS showed CM-301 and CM-401 ballistic missiles. The new CM-103 is a long-range supersonic missile which can be used for both anti-ship and land attack. It has a maximum effective range 290 km.
The CM-401 is better known (as noted earlier in the article). It is interesting that it is shown as being compatible with the VLS. However, the new missile shot from the Type-055 is neither the CM-301 or CM-401, they are the export options. The inference is that the new missile is more capable than either.
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