'World's best' anti-ship missile a showstopper

Updated: 2016-11-07 03:30

By ZHAO LEI in Zhuhai(China Daily)

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China's largest missile-maker is promoting what it calls "the world's best anti-ship missile" for sales in the international market.

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, one of the main defense equipment suppliers in the nation, is marketing its CM-302 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile to nations hoping to improve their naval capabilities.

CM-302 is the best anti-ship missile available on the world's arms market and "it's not an exaggeration", said Lyu Xiaoge, spokesman for the State-owned defense technology giant, who spoke to China Daily on the sidelines of the 2016 Zhuhai Airshow.

The justification for the statement is that the missile can fly at supersonic speeds during its entire 290-kilometer trajectory, and it can be mounted on ships, aircraft or ground vehicles. It can be used to knock out land targets as well, Lyu said.

Offerings from competitors do not have such advantages, Lyu said. "They can be supersonic only during one certain part of the flight and can't be mounted on multiple platforms."

Only two other supersonic anti-ship missiles are available in the market: Russia's P-800 Oniks, also known as the SS-N-26 Strobile, and BrahMos, a joint development by Russia and India.

The most widely sold anti-ship missiles are the United States' Harpoon series, which have a maximum range of 280 km, the first of which entered into service in the 1970s, according to Cao Weidong, a researcher with the People's Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute.

Lyu said market research shows that "many nations" need potent weapons like the CM-302 to beef up their maritime defenses.

The missile, designed for export, resembles the YJ-12 heavy-duty, supersonic anti-ship cruise missile that made its debut at the V-Day military parade in Beijing in September of last year.

Aside from speed and flexibility, the CM-302 also has a greater ability to penetrate defenses and greater destructive power than others in the market, Lyu said.

He said only one CM-302 is capable of disabling a 5,000-metric-ton guided missile destroyer.

"I believe our clients will be highly interested," he said, noting that the CM-302 was one of the Chinese products that had attracted the most inquiries during the six-day Zhuhai Airshow, which ended on Sunday.

"They know we'll satisfy their maritime defense strategy on only a limited budget," Lyu said, although he declined to quote the missile's price.

Brochures from CM-302's developer, CASIC Third Academy, call the missile an effective weapon for use against large warships, including aircraft carriers and destroyers. CM-302 is characterized by its small size, light weight, strong power, modular design and high accuracy, the academy said.

With a 250-kilogram warhead, CM-302 is capable of approaching the target in a sea-skimming mode and maneuvering before striking, which makes it hard to intercept, said Yin Lixin, a senior researcher with the CASIC Third Academy.

It boasts a high accuracy rate of about 90 percent, designers said.

Military observers said China's best anti-ship missile for its own use is the YJ-18, also developed by the CASIC Third Academy. Some observers report that the YJ-18 has an even longer range of 540 km, and a cruise speed of 966 kilometers per hour. When approaching a target, its warhead can accelerate to three times the speed of sound.

The biennial Zhuhai Airshow, officially known as China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, claims to be the largest arms exhibition in Asia. It is held in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.