Chinese Ship-killing Missile Worries US

  • Our Bureau
  • 09:14 AM, November 2, 2015
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Chinese Ship-killing Missile Worries US
Chinese YJ-18 anti-ship missile

Chinese sub-marine launched supersonic missile YJ-18 has made the US Navy’s operations in South China Sea difficult.

According to a new report to the US Congress assessing the missile, the YJ-18 accelerates to supersonic speed just before hitting its target, making it harder for a crew to defend their ship, Bloomberg reported Sunday.

The report came just days after the US warship entered the 12-mile zone around the reefs that China’s turned into man-made islands, one of which may soon be equipped with an airstrip capable of handling the military’s largest aircraft. By passing so close, the U.S. was showing it doesn’t recognize that the feature qualifies for a territorial zone under international law.

“The supersonic speed makes it harder to hit with onboard guns,” Larry Wortzel, a member of the commission was quoted by the news agency as saying. “It also makes it a faster target for radars.”

The YJ-18’s speed and long range, as well as its wide deployment “could have serious implications for the ability of US Navy surface ships to operate freely in the Western Pacific” in the event of a conflict, the commission found.

Its report came just days after the US warship entered the 12-mile zone around the reefs that China’s turned into man-made islands, one of which may soon be equipped with an airstrip capable of handling the military’s largest aircraft. By passing so close, the U.S. was showing it doesn’t recognize that the feature qualifies for a territorial zone under international law.

Wortzel said the missile would be particularly helpful in implementing the Chinese naval strategy of keeping opposing forces away from China’s coast and from the waters inside the first island chain.

The Office of Naval Intelligence said in its April report on the People’s Liberation Army Navy that China had started to deploy its newest missile, but didn’t give precise details on its range. The Commission said the YJ-18 can travel about 290 nautical miles, more than 14 times as much as its predecessor, the YJ-82. It cited media reports and other unclassified sources.

“One goal of the Chinese counter intervention strategy, which we call anti-access/area denial, is to keep opposing forces away from China’s coast and from the waters inside the First Island Chain,” said Wortzel. The missiles would be “particularly helpful in implementing the naval strategy of keeping an opponent outside the range of Tomahawk cruise missiles and carrier-based fighters and away from the Chinese coast.”

The YJ-18 missile can cruise at about 960 kph, or just under the speed of sound, only a few meters above the surface of the sea and then, about 20 nautical miles from its target, accelerate to as much as three times the speed of sound, according to an Oct. 28 report from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

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