YJ-12

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YJ-12
Type anti-ship / anti-radar / air-to-surface missiles
Place of origin  China
Service history
In service 1999 to present
Used by China
Production history
Manufacturer Tri-River Aerospace Industrial Group (Sanjiang Corporation, 航天三江集团, a.k.a. the 4th Research Academy of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp) and CHEMTA (China Sea Eagle Electromechanical Technology Academy), formerly the 3rd Design Academy of the Aerospace Ministry of China.
Unit cost US$ 1.8 million
Produced Mid 1990’s to present
Specifications
Detonation
mechanism
Impact / Proximity / Semi-armor piercing

Engine liquid-fuel ramjet
Propellant liquid fuel + solid rocket booster
Operational
range
≈ 400 km maximum [1]
Speed Mach > 4 (Mach 2.5 - 3.0 for YJ-18)[2]
Guidance
system
ARH / PRH / TV / ImIR
Launch
platform
Xian JH-7
Type 052D destroyer
JF-17 Thunder
J-15 Flying Shark
J-16[3]
J-11B[4]
H-6G/K[5]
Su-30MKK[6]
submarine[7]

YJ-12 (YJ is the abbreviation of Yingji, or 鹰击 in Chinese, meaning Eagle Strike) is a supersonic Chinese anti-ship missile developed in the 1990s. Partially due to the limited information available on YJ-12, it is often mistaken for another little known Chinese supersonic anti-ship cruise missile YJ-22, the Chinese equivalent of SS-N-22. Additionally, YJ-12 is also sometimes confused with YJ-91 by non-Chinese sources. YJ-12 entered service in early 2000s.

Development[edit]

C-803, a Chinese anti-ship missile which is capable of supersonic speed at the terminal attack stage is not a true supersonic missile because for most of its cruising stage, the missile flies at subsonic speed. In the early 1990s, Chinese State Department and the Chinese Central Military Commission issued the order to develop an anti-ship missile that was truly supersonic, capable of flying at supersonic speed in its entire flight. The 3rd Design Academy of the Aerospace Ministry, later reorganized as CHEMTA (China Sea Eagle Electromechanical Technology Academy, 中国海鹰机电技术研究院) was named as the primary contractor, responsible for the whole system, while the 601st and 611th Research Institutes and the Naval Research Academy were selected as the subcontractors. The research institutes were responsible for aerodynamic development, while the Naval Research Academy was responsible for the guidance system.[8]

The first successful test of YJ-12 was completed in 1997, with all test flights over the ground for subsystems tests were completed in that year, and most of the test flights over the water completed the next year. After a series of major upgrades, the missile received state certification in October, 1999, and entered Chinese service in very limited numbers for evaluation. It was rumored that China originally lacked the confidence in this first indigenously developed supersonic missile and this was why C-803 was developed in parallel as a more secure backup. It is a common practice for Chinese weaponry developers to advertise their products on defense exhibitions to draw customers so that additional funding would be earned via export, and according many Chinese domestic claims on the internet, this is how YJ-12 made its public debut at earlier Zhuhai Airshows in scaled model form.[9] Subsequently, the missile disappeared from most of later Zhuhai Airshows and other defense exhibitions, and Chinese military enthusiasts have claimed that this is proof that the missile obtained larger orders from Chinese armed forces, because the larger order from Chinese military had provided sufficient funding to finance further development without the need of export. It was not until the 9th Zhuhai Airshow held in November 2012, did YJ-12 finally reappeared in model form again.[10] In January, 2004, series production of YJ-12 had begun, after a series of what Chinese claims of “major upgrades”. Chinese sources have claimed that the total number of YJ-12 in Chinese service is at least 816, which include all units from preproduction series (pre 2000 era) and initial production (after 2004 era), but this has yet to be verified by official Chinese governmental sources or independent sources outside China.

According to the Chinese developers, YJ-12 can be launched from a variety of platforms, including fixed wing aircraft, surface ships, land vehicles, and fixed site shore batteries. However, during its brief public debut at earlier Zhuhai Airshow, the missile is only carried by Xian JH-7, with one missile under each wing.

Description[edit]

Initially in the 1990s, western analyst thought that the YJ-12 will be somewhat similar to Air-Sol Moyenne Portée (ASMP). However, latest video shows that the YJ-12 is almost completely different from the ASMP. [11] Contrary to the ASMP which is a sole an air-to-surface missile, YJ-12 was first developed as an anti-ship missile instead, and then as an anti-radar missile, and the land-attack air-to-surface version was the latest development. Chinese developer of YJ-12 claimed that the reason YJ-12 looked almost identical to ASMP was because the aerodynamic layout was the best to meet the performance requirements thus resulting in similar looks of the two missiles.

The propulsion system of the missile is a ramjet engine integrated with a rocket booster, reportedly based on that of Kh-31 and developed with the help of Russian expertise. Some have argued that this might be partially contributed to the confusion between YJ-91 and YJ-12. For the model made its public debut, the side arrangement of the engine layout is the same as that of ASMP.[12] Many Chinese military enthusiasts have claimed that the successful development of YJ-12 is the reason that forced Russia to allow the export of Kh-31 and (even more outrageously, SS-N-22) to China. However, such erroneous claims are openly denied by the developer, and when asked about such claim was true at earlier Zhuhai Airshows, the Chinese developers answered that they have never heard of such claims, and neither has the Chinese government made any official confirmation of such claims. The developer of YJ-12 claimed that Kh-31 and its Chinese development, YJ-91 were in different classes, with YJ-12 having longer range and instead of competing with each other, the two missiles would complement each other, YJ-91 for targets that were closer, while YJ-12 for targets further away.

YJ-12 is claimed to be the first Chinese supersonic anti-ship missile to incorporate the modular design concept, and around a dozen models have been developed or under development. In addition to anti-shipping version, anti-radar and land-attack versions have also been developed. The cheapest of these are the fire-and-forgot version for anti-shipping role, without any data link. For the rest of models that are more costly, it is not known if they have entered Chinese service yet or they are still under development, because the missile was withdrawn from defense exhibitions after its initial appearance in earlier Zhuhai Airshows. Most of the technologies of YJ-12 are based on that of C-803, but a brand new VLSIC microchip was specifically developed for YJ-12 by the 771st Research Institute of ex-Aerospace Ministry of China, and is used both for the radar seeker and ECM/ECCM. It is claimed that the processing and storage capability of the new microchip is expanded multifold in comparison to that is used on C-803, thus improving the performance of the highly digitized seeker of C-803 used on YJ-12, without making any other changes. However, due to the limitations and backwardness of Chinese microelectronic industry, the unit cost of the microchip was expensive, driving up the price of the missile: the unit price of YJ-12 in late 1990s price was 1.8 million US$, more than twice of Boeing Harpoon. The radar seeker costs a quarter million US$, while the ECM/ECCM system of YJ-12 costs 580,000 US$, and the total cost of these two subsystems is almost half of the unit price of the missile.

According to the developer, there are three categories YJ-12. The fire-and-forget category is the first one to be developed, and the next one had a one way data link added so that pilots can change the targets for the missile after launching. The last one has a two way data link added to the missile so that pilots can see the information of the target detected by the seeker of the missile. Some Chinese military enthusiasts have claimed, however, that with the exception of the fire-and-forget category, none of the rest had progressed beyond the developmental stage due insufficient funding partially caused by the high unit price of YJ-12. The range is usually at 250 to 300 km (high-low), but an alternative flight path is also available to increase the range to 400 km: Like the Russian Raduga Kh-15, the missile would climb to high altitude of 40 km for cruising, and at the very last moment, diving down on the target. Many Chinese sources have claimed that this feature is incorporated based on the technologies of AS-16, but this feature is only available for the anti-shipping versions of YJ-12. Since the missile has been withdrawn from public displays, such claims have yet to be verified by independent sources. What is confirmed by the official governmental sources at the 6th Zhuhai Airshow held in the 3rd quarter of 2006 by the developer is that when the high altitude cruise and terminal diving attack trajectory is adopted, the maximum speed of YJ-12 is around Mach 4, and YJ-12 is usually carried on the inner most pylons of JH-7A, as shown in the model at the airshow.[13] The midcourse guidance of YJ-12 is inertial + GPS, though the developer has claimed that other satellite navigational system can also be incorporated.

Some American analysts believe that the YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missile is the biggest threat to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in the western Pacific that China can employ, even greater than the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. This is due to its ability to be carried by aircraft like the H-6 strategic bomber and Su-30 and J-11 fighters. A 2011 U.S. Naval War College study found that the YJ-12 was one of the world's longest-range anti-ship missiles at 400 km (250 mi; 220 nmi), compared to the U.S. Harpoon's range of 124 km (77 mi; 67 nmi). This enables it to be launched beyond the range of SM-2 surface-to-air missiles, where previously anti-ship missiles could be detected when they were launched at much closer ranges and even have their launch aircraft intercepted before they could attack. With over 100 YJ-12s being launched from fighters and bombers from multiple directions, a U.S. carrier strike group's close-in air defenses would have only 45 seconds to respond to the barrage of supersonic missiles approaching at wave-top height; this is more simple and reliable than the extensive network of space-based observation and communication links the DF-21D is reliant on and less vulnerable to pre-emptive interference. The U.S. Navy's counter to over-the-horizon missile attacks is the common engagement capability, which uses the E-2D Hawkeye early warning aircraft to detect and guide defenses like the SM-6 to destroy aircraft and missiles at longer ranges.[14]

YJ-12 AShM[edit]

YJ-12 anti-ship missile (AShM) is the first family of YJ-12 series. The missile is armed with a newly designed 205 kg warhead, and coupled with it supersonic speed, its destructive power is claimed by the developer to be increased to that of 400-kg warhead of older design on a missiles flying subsonic speed. The developer of YJ-12 has claimed that a 4000 ton class warship is guaranteed to sink after being hit by a single YJ-12. YJ-12 AShM can be armed with a radar seeker, an imaging infrared seeker, or a television seeker, and missiles armed with each seeker also has further options of incorporating one way data link, two way data link, or purely a fire-and-forget weapon without any data link, resulting in a total of nine models in this family. YJ-12 AShM is the only family of YJ-12 with optional sea-skimming capability, though this is achieved at the cost of reduced range.

YJ-12 ARM[edit]

The second family of YJ-12 is the anti-radar series and models in this family do not incorporate data links. The eventual goal is to develop an anti-radiation missile of AGM-88 HARM class, with a single passive radar seeker covering the entire frequency spectrum. Just as in YJ-91 ARM, a two step approach was adopted, with the first step being developing a series of seekers each covering a specific section of the frequency spectrum, so that they can be interchanged to meet specific threats. Meanwhile, a seeker that covers multi-bands frequency spectrum is under development for the future. A cheaper alternative is also developed, using GPS or other satellite navigational guidance, reducing the need of the costly VLSIC. The high capability VLSIC is needed during the flight of the anti-radar missile to calculate the approximate location of the target when the targeted radar is turned off after the missile is launched, but this would drive up the cost. GPS and other satellite navigational guidance would help the missile to remember the location of the targeted radar and continue the attack after the targeted radar is turned off, thus reducing the need of complex calculation. However, this cheaper version of guidance can only be used when attacking fixed site radar. Many Chinese sources have claimed that the fixed site radars built by Raytheon for Taiwan’s Surveillance Radar Program would be the primary targets of this satellite guided anti-radar version of YJ-12 ARM.

YJ-12 ASM[edit]

YJ-12 air-to-surface missile family is developed from YJ-12 AShM. Following the same practice of developing land attack missiles from anti-ship missiles, like KD-88 from C-802, the land attack version of YJ-12 ASM is developed from the original anti-shipping version. The land attack version includes all options of adding one-way or two way data links, or without any data link, and all seekers of anti-shipping version can be selected to equip the land attack version. In addition, just like the anti-radiation version of YJ-12, there is an extra guidance method of utilizing satellite guidance/navigation such as GPS and GLONASS, but none of the satellite navigational guided air-to-surface missiles are equipped with two way data link, bringing a total of eleven models in this family. Like the anti-ship version, many Chinese sources have claimed that despite the development of all models are completed and ready for production upon customer’s request, due to the limited funding, the only model of this missile family entered the Chinese service is the radar guided fire-and-forgot version without any data link. Since the missile has not been allowed to be exported, there is no known any export success either.

CM-400AKG "Wrecker"[edit]

At the 9th Zhuhai Airshow, another hypersonic missile designated as CM-400AKG Wrecker made its debut in real form, though its photo had previously appeared at Paris Airshow. Developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), the successor of several developers of YJ-12 after numerous reorganization, CM-400AKG Wrecker has reduced range of 180 to 250 km in order to meet the export restriction of Missile Technology Control Regime. The original western erroneous claims of CM-400AKG as a development of C-802/C-803 proved to be incorrect, because CM-400AKG is a derivative of YJ-12 instead, using solid rocket motor propulsion as opposed to the ramjet engine of YJ-12,[15] and CM-400AKG is similar to YJ-12 in many aspects, such as the supersonic speed, and more importantly, exactly the same high-low flight path of first cruise at higher altitude and then the steep dive on the final approach.

The 400 kg CM-400AKG Wrecker is termed by CASIC as hypersonic since it can reach speed greater than Mach 5.5 at its terminal stage, and its guidance system includes GPS, onboard radar, and an image recognition system that can identify a specific target, it can also be pre-programed to destroy the ground targets with precision by uploading the digital imagery of the target or it can be re-targeted using its active radar seeker. Originally developed as an air-to-surface missile (ASM) against fixed and slow moving target,[16] an anti-shipping missile (AShM) is also developed for Pakistan, which claims it as "an aircraft carrier killer". [17][18] The two different CM-400AKG models can be easily distinguished by the difference between the arrangement of forward control surfaces of the two model: the AShM version has four short and smaller forward control surfaces, [19] while the ASM version has four much larger forward control surfaces.[20][21][22] Pakistan is the first export customer of CM-400AKG, deploying it on CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder. [17]

AVIC gives ranges of 100-240km for the two versions with their 150kg blast warhead or 200kg penetration warhead.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]