China has released the first photograph of its YJ-18 anti-ship missile (ASM) being launched from a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Type 052D destroyer: an indication that the ASM has entered service with the fleet.
Published in the Chinese military magazine Modern Ships , the image appears to confirm previous media reports that the YJ-18 is a vertically-launched (VL) three-stage ASM that it is similar in design to the Russian-made Novator 3M-54T (SS-N-27A ‘Sizzler’) Kalibr-NK ASM.
This photograph shows that the YJ-18 shares the domestic VL version’s distinctive layout, with its booster (first stage), cruise missile (second stage), and its supersonic rocket-powered third stage.
China acquired the submarine-launched 3M-54E (SS-N-27B ‘Sizzler’) Club-S export ASM to arm is eight Russian-built Project 636M conventional attack submarines delivered between 2004 and 2006. It is not clear whether Russia sold co-production rights or whether China developed a close copy of the 3M-54 domestic version.
In its 2015 China Military Power report the US Department of Defense had stated that the “Luyang III DDG and Type 055 CG will be fitted with a variant of China’s newest anti-ship cruise missile, the YJ-18 (290 n miles [537 km]), which is a significant step forward in China’s surface ASUW [anti-surface warfare] capability”.
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