PLAN Anti-ship/surface missiles


Blitzo

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YJ-18 should have secondary land attack capabilities. While that is not optimal usage of YJ-18, it might be sufficient for what PLAN needs right now.

As I posted in the hypersonic development thread, I see basically 3 phases to Chinese AShM in the past 15 years.
1) the proliferation of long range high subsonic missiles like YJ-83s and YJ-62s. They were able to loading up those Type 022s with 8 YJ-83s each. Pretty intense stuff. In reality, I'm not sure how much damage they can put on a USN carrier group even if all the Type 022s launched 8 missiles each. Maybe a few escort, but I doubt they'd be able to put a carrier out of action.

2) the proliferation of long range high supersonic missiles like YJ-12 and YJ-18 on both bombers and surface warships. This is actually much more dynamic threat, since YJ-18 combines all the benefits of supersonic and subsonic missiles (long range, low profile and high supersonic terminal phase). Being able to carry them in UVLS means PLAN can launch saturation attacks with a whole bunch of supersonic missiles. This would trouble a carrier group a lot more, but I'm still not sure if they'd be able to put a carrier out of action.

3) the likely proliferation of air and sea launched ASBM and hypersonic anti-ship missiles. I expect them to continue developing these missiles to be ever harder to pick up and intercept. I think having multiple ASBM, HGV and HCM come at a carrier is a couple of magnitude more difficult to cleanly intercept than similar number of subsonic AShM. Just thinking about having a mach 5 missile coming straight down vs sea-skimmers flying parallel to target in subsonic speed. It is really hard to cleanly intercept the former without any debris causing damages. A clean hit might be able to even sink a carrier. Even if several subsonic cruise missiles hit a modern supercarrier, I don't think it would sink it.

You see a progression of PLAN anti-ship missiles getting progressively harder to intercept. And this happened in a short time. I'm not sure what the next step is except maybe flying even faster in terminal stage and becoming more maneuverable to invade defense and maybe flying profiles that would be harder to pick up and predict.


This discussion about a "land attack YJ-18" is not referring to the standard "YJ-18" having a secondary land attack capability.

The "land attack YJ-18" is instead talking about a very different missile variant but sharing a few subsystems with YJ-18, that has a similar role to Tomahawk and the Russian Kalibr.


We all remember how in the early 2010s, we were expecting a new universal VLS to come out for the next gen of PLAN surface combatants, which would be able to carry SAMs, AShMs, and land attack cruise missiles (like Tomahawk), among other weapons like VLA etc.
Well, that VLS emerged -- the UVLS that was first installed on 052D, and then 055.

In the case of the LACM for the UVLS, initially people expected a variant of the DF-10/KD-20 cruise missile (which is the GLCM and ALCM respectively) to be launched from the UVLS.
But then sometime in the mid to late 2010s, the rumours changed and it turned out that actually the LACM for the PLAN's UVLS would be an YJ-18 variant! At first this seems odd, but then if we realize that the DF-10/KD-20 missile is probably a bit too big for the UVLS, and then if we trace back the YJ-18 heritage, it makes some sense.

In terms of YJ-18's heritage, the standard AShM variant of course is derived from the Russian Klub missile (3M54E). However, the Klub missile itself is part of a family of missiles with shared key subsystems -- and one major variant of that family is the 3M54E1/3M14E -- a subsonic Tomahawk equivalent missile (3M54E1 being the anti ship subsonic missile, 3M14E being the subsonic LACM, both with the same airframe). This missile is now better known as the Kalibr missile that the Russian navy operates as its Tomahawk equivalent.

For the PLAN, the rumours for the last 5-6 years have basically been strongly hinting that the PLAN's subsonic LACM (Tomahawk equivalent) is a "YJ-18 variant" in the same way that the Kalibr is a "Klub variant".

This YJ-18 variant has been dubbed "YJ-18C" in the past, but I am unsure if that is its definitive name


Here are some pictures showcasing the size difference between Klub/3M54E and Kalibr/3M14E -- and we can use these images to extrapolate the situation for the YJ-18 and "YJ-18C"/"land attack YJ-18 variant" as well


Top shows Kalibr/3M14E, Bottom shows Klub/3M54E.
Note how the subsonic Kalibr is much shorter than the subsonic/supersonic capable Klub.
variant 3.jpg


Another perspective showing full size models -- of these four grey missiles, the one at the topmost (right most) is the Kalibr/3M14E and immediately below it is the Klub/3M54E.
variants 4.jpg


This is a promo spec sheet depicting the various weapons of the Klub family, including Klub/3M54E at the top, and the Kalibr/3M54E1 (which is the same airframe as the 3M14E) right below it, with a list of dimensions at the bottom.
Keep in mind the performance numbers are all export and thus MTCR compliant (ranges below 300km).
variants.jpg
 

tphuang

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This discussion about a "land attack YJ-18" is not referring to the standard "YJ-18" having a secondary land attack capability.

The "land attack YJ-18" is instead talking about a very different missile variant but sharing a few subsystems with YJ-18, that has a similar role to Tomahawk and the Russian Kalibr.
That I do get. I think if we haven't seen it yet, then it might not be a major priority for the navy. They are probably content with just anti-ship version in the interim if they need to use ships for land strikes.

It's also possible they are looking to develop a really stealthy LACM and land attack YJ-18 project has been dropped.
 

Blitzo

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That I do get. I think if we haven't seen it yet, then it might not be a major priority for the navy. They are probably content with just anti-ship version in the interim if they need to use ships for land strikes.

It's also possible they are looking to develop a really stealthy LACM and land attack YJ-18 project has been dropped.

My suspicion is that we will get a Yu-8 situation where one day it just appears in a random CCTV broadcast and then we get an acknowledgement by some of the usual insiders stating "yeah, the YJ-18C LACM has actually been in service for the last few years"
 

tphuang

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@ougoah
I will just carry the LRASM discussion here. I think it does make sense for PLAN to develop a really stealthy version of AShM LRASM. In fact, Shilao's podcast talked about this recently. Basically, we have China and US initially focusing on two different paths.
1) China with hypersonic
2) US with Lo subsonic

To me, doing 1) doesn't preclude 2). 2) also doesn't seem to me as technologically challenging as 1)

In shilao's podcast, they actually compared LRASM to YJ-18 when it came to the ability to penetrate air defense. So let me ask you something. If you are looking at YJ-18 vs LRASM from frontal view, do you see it as being 1 order of magnitude less stealthy than LRASM or 2 orders or more? Let's say for argument sake that YJ-18 RCS is 100x of LRASM (which I think would be an overestimate). Then, based on math, the radar range against it would be 3.16x further. Of course, if we bring in aerial assets into the equation, this could further change the tracking range. That sounds bad until you consider its speed in sea-skimming phase is 3.5 to 4 times as fast.

So, what makes you think LRASM is just impossible to defend?
 

Gloire_bb

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LRASM is very much possible to defend against - moreover, we already saw quite a few of her close siblings(JASSMs) shot down. More than just that, as a target it is arguably much simpler than an average modern sea skimmer - which are true sea skimmers first of all(unlike LRASM), are smaller and are waay more capable of radical terminal maneuvers.
It is, however, a really good weapon for planes against larger surface ships(1) in a modern high threat, complex environment scenario(2) for a large power that can supply them with in-flight updates and suitable EW support(3).

Shall China go for something similar, at least for carrier air wings?
I personally think the answer is yes, because PLAN is within just a few years of getting such an environment(where LRASM-like missile makes sense). Especially since US warships are very well known to not go down without sufficient motivation.
 
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Tam

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I'm well aware of what was shown to be depicted in the image for the VLS shown at Zhuhai last year.

What I am challenging is:

1. Is the VLS shown at Zhuhai last year, actually the PLAN's UVLS that is installed on 052D and 055? If it is not actually the same VLS type as the PLAN's UVLS, then any speculation about the integrated weapons displayed on the system shown at Zhuhai has zero bearing on what systems are actually installed on the PLAN's UVLS

2. If the VLS shown at Zhuhai last year is the PLAN's UVLS that is installed on 052D and 055, do we have any reason to believe that the depicted weapons that are "integrated" with the VLS at Zhuhai are actually weapons that the PLAN are going to integrate in their own UVLS?


I do not believe we have any credible evidence for either of those questions.



We cannot simply assume that just because a system shown for export that looks very similar to the PLAN's own in service system is actually the same system, nor can we assume that even if they are the same system, that all of the payloads depicted are actually ones the PLAN is actively interested in pursuing, nor do we know that the payloads depicted are the full extent of the payloads the PLAN are interested in (they may well be interested in additional payloads that are NOT depicted).

Let us not make the same mistake of the early 2010s when many of us were incorrectly calling the HQ-10 CIWS SAM as "FL-3000N" simply due to their very similar external appearances -- when in reality years later, it turned out that they were entirely separate systems, just functionally and externally very similar!

The development of an entirely new VLS simply for export use, with a corresponding matching missile systems don't make any logistical and development sense to me. Weapon systems are extremely expensive to develop and test, and you will have to pass these costs to the customer. I don't know why a VLS should be a shy point for export, since it's just the mechanism for launch, not the missile itself. Consider the 054AP. It doesn't have some brand new export only VLS, it uses the same VLS as PLAN 054A is using.

Another point of contention is that to develop such a new export only VLS, you would need to fit the test ships for them, and reserve them for testing for a significant time period. That would prevent the test ships from testing domestic use weapons which wont sit right if you need to bring new missile systems to PLAN service. We have zero evidence of a new VLS on the test ships.

The other thing I think you might be missing is the increasing possibility that a 052D export variant maybe being prepped. That's the whole point of putting the U-VLS in display along with export variants of YJ-18, HHQ-9, etc,. And by the don't you remember, there were two signs, one that's says HHQ-9E and the other YJ-18E right next to the HT-1E VLS sign, all three right next to that VLS display.

Customers don't want a purposed for export only weapons system. They are too smart for that ruse. They want something tested and proven. They want something the PLA is using or at least a version of it. There are zero takers on any of the proposed export corvette and frigate designs shown on defense expos for example, instead customers went for modified versions of the 054A and 056. That's evident why export labels are being dropped, except for weapons with no official PLA designation, why they are using the 'E' suffix instead like YJ-18E.

I don't really think HHQ-10 and FL-3000N are that completely different. Two different institutes yes, but who knows they could be dipping from a common parts bin.
 

Blitzo

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The development of an entirely new VLS simply for export use, with a corresponding matching missile systems don't make any logistical and development sense to me. Weapon systems are extremely expensive to develop and test, and you will have to pass these costs to the customer. I don't know why a VLS should be a shy point for export, since it's just the mechanism for launch, not the missile itself. Consider the 054AP. It doesn't have some brand new export only VLS, it uses the same VLS as PLAN 054A is using.

Another point of contention is that to develop such a new export only VLS, you would need to fit the test ships for them, and reserve them for testing for a significant time period. That would prevent the test ships from testing domestic use weapons which wont sit right if you need to bring new missile systems to PLAN service. We have zero evidence of a new VLS on the test ships.

The other thing I think you might be missing is the increasing possibility that a 052D export variant maybe being prepped. That's the whole point of putting the U-VLS in display along with export variants of YJ-18, HHQ-9, etc,. And by the don't you remember, there were two signs, one that's says HHQ-9E and the other YJ-18E right next to the HT-1E VLS sign, all three right next to that VLS display.

Customers don't want a purposed for export only weapons system. They are too smart for that ruse. They want something tested and proven. They want something the PLA is using or at least a version of it. There are zero takers on any of the proposed export corvette and frigate designs shown on defense expos for example, instead customers went for modified versions of the 054A and 056. That's evident why export labels are being dropped, except for weapons with no official PLA designation, why they are using the 'E' suffix instead like YJ-18E.

I don't really think HHQ-10 and FL-3000N are that completely different. Two different institutes yes, but who knows they could be dipping from a common parts bin.

My underlying point, is that I do not think we should assume that we should assume that the weapons depicted as compatible on the VLS shown at Zhuhai last year are the same weapons that the PLAN will integrate into their own in service UVLS, nor are the weapons depicted at Zhuhai last year the full extent of the weapons they will integrate into their own in service UVLS.


Instead, we should be using a combination of photographic evidence and credible rumours -- the same system we've used for PLA watching for years.
I.e., we can confirm that these weapons have been integrated with the UVLS:
1. YJ-18 AShM
2. HQ-9 SAM (likely B variant, but unknown if subvariants are also compatible)
3. New missile, likely YJ-21/20/XX AShBM

Other missiles that has been rumoured for a long time, or which we can very reasonable deduce to be highly likely, include:
1. Subsonic LACM/YJ-18 LACM variant
2. Quad pack MR SAM (the so called 3-5 missile)
3. Some type of vertically launched ASW weapon, either Yu-8, or other


Beyond that, we can surmise that other future weapons in development for naval purposes such as VLR SAM, BMD, new generation AShMs, LACMs, HGVs, hypersonic cruise missiles, will likely arrive for the UVLS eventually as well, in the longer term. But these are not weapons we are actively anticipating on the immediate horizon.
 

ougoah

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@ougoah
I will just carry the LRASM discussion here. I think it does make sense for PLAN to develop a really stealthy version of AShM LRASM. In fact, Shilao's podcast talked about this recently. Basically, we have China and US initially focusing on two different paths.
1) China with hypersonic
2) US with Lo subsonic

To me, doing 1) doesn't preclude 2). 2) also doesn't seem to me as technologically challenging as 1)

In shilao's podcast, they actually compared LRASM to YJ-18 when it came to the ability to penetrate air defense. So let me ask you something. If you are looking at YJ-18 vs LRASM from frontal view, do you see it as being 1 order of magnitude less stealthy than LRASM or 2 orders or more? Let's say for argument sake that YJ-18 RCS is 100x of LRASM (which I think would be an overestimate). Then, based on math, the radar range against it would be 3.16x further. Of course, if we bring in aerial assets into the equation, this could further change the tracking range. That sounds bad until you consider its speed in sea-skimming phase is 3.5 to 4 times as fast.

So, what makes you think LRASM is just impossible to defend?

Impossible to defend realistically because if they're able to fire off volleys of them, they won't be detectable by targeted ships until well inside the range of HHQ-16. And while they may be fired to intercept and provided there is good enough tracking by fire control radar even 20km out, we'd mostly be relying on HQ-10 and CIWS guns in terms of active defence.

YJ-18 is also a fantastic anti-surface weapon. Frontal RCS is still low correct and it is sea-skimming which means detected at radar horizon at best and by then it's just gone supersonic and accelerating towards mach 3. This isn't about the conversation though. LRASM combined with J-35 just makes sense.

LRASM is very much possible to defend against - moreover, we already saw quite a few of her close siblings(JASSMs) shot down. More than just that, as a target it is arguably much simpler than an average modern sea skimmer - which are true sea skimmers first of all(unlike LRASM), are smaller and are waay more capable of radical terminal maneuvers.
It is, however, a really good weapon for planes against larger surface ships(1) in a modern high threat, complex environment scenario(2) for a large power that can supply them with in-flight updates and suitable EW support(3).

Shall China go for something similar, at least for carrier air wings?
I personally think the answer is yes, because PLAN is within just a few years of getting such an environment(where LRASM-like missile makes sense). Especially since US warships are very well known to not go down without sufficient motivation.

When have JASSMs been intercepted?

Sorry I wasn't aware LRASM doesn't cruise low. But it would be worthwhile for China to develop something that is similar to LRASM and serve as yet another high tier anti-surface threat. Now that China has J-35s.
 

Tam

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My underlying point, is that I do not think we should assume that we should assume that the weapons depicted as compatible on the VLS shown at Zhuhai last year are the same weapons that the PLAN will integrate into their own in service UVLS, nor are the weapons depicted at Zhuhai last year the full extent of the weapons they will integrate into their own in service UVLS.


Instead, we should be using a combination of photographic evidence and credible rumours -- the same system we've used for PLA watching for years.
I.e., we can confirm that these weapons have been integrated with the UVLS:
1. YJ-18 AShM
2. HQ-9 SAM (likely B variant, but unknown if subvariants are also compatible)
3. New missile, likely YJ-21/20/XX AShBM

Other missiles that has been rumoured for a long time, or which we can very reasonable deduce to be highly likely, include:
1. Subsonic LACM/YJ-18 LACM variant
2. Quad pack MR SAM (the so called 3-5 missile)
3. Some type of vertically launched ASW weapon, either Yu-8, or other


Beyond that, we can surmise that other future weapons in development for naval purposes such as VLR SAM, BMD, new generation AShMs, LACMs, HGVs, hypersonic cruise missiles, will likely arrive for the UVLS eventually as well, in the longer term. But these are not weapons we are actively anticipating on the immediate horizon.

The missiles you reasonably deduce for the U-VLS is far from enough.

I believe that image is reliable enough to assume that missiles shown might be tested and headed for PLAN use. The two stage missile in that image is a match to what was seen recently. I really doubt that China would be exporting that missile, so it's likely the image was taken from an internal source and conveniently used to illustrate the placard. The image itself is therefore not a statement of what China plans to export but is only used as a filler which happens to reveal new in-house information about the VLS.

The image does show first of all from left to right.

With the 7 meter section ---

Quadpack in the far left corner.

MRSAM (HQ-16 variation?) That's something you should be anticipating if the VLS is intended for 054B. A MRSAM also plugs a range gap between the quadrant (50km) and HHQ-9 (300km+).

Unknown missile. Possibly ballistic.

HHQ-9.

YJ-83B? Merits to using this would be as an antiship missile for a ship equipped with only 7 meter U-VLS (054B?). As a land attack missile, this also gives ships the versatility to hit surface targets up to 300km(?) using the more common VLS on the 052D.

9 meter VLS section

Two Stage Missile, possible hypersonic antiship or asbm interceptor. This is the missile on the video.

Unknown missile. Possibly ballistic.

Missile in canister. Unknown.
 
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Blitzo

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I believe that image is reliable enough to assume that missiles shown might be tested and headed for PLAN use. The two stage missile in that image is a match to what was seen recently. I really doubt that China would be exporting that missile, so it's likely the image was taken from an internal source and conveniently used to illustrate the placard.

I do not believe that missile is the PLAN's YJ-21/20/XX AShBM that we've seen to begin with.
The fin placement is different, as would be the extrapolated size of the booster.

The image does show first of all

With the 7 meter section ---

Quadpack in the far left corner.

MRSAM (HQ-16 variation?) That's something you should be anticipating if the VLS is intended for 054B. A MRSAM also plugs a range gap between the quadrant (50km) and HHQ-9 (300km+).

Unknown missile. Possibly ballistic and land targeting.

HHQ-9.

YJ-83B

9 meter VLS section

Two Stage Missile, possible hypersonic antiship or asbm interceptor.

Unknown missile. Possibly ballistic.

Missile in canister.

Then there's no reason for further discussion.

If that VLS is indeed the PLAN's UVLS, the depicted weapons integrated with it on the Zhuhai placard and model represents weapons that they are depicting as being offered for integration, for export purposes. Some of those weapons are likely in PLA service as well. That does not mean all of the weapons depicted are intended for PLAN service.
 

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