An image has emerged on online forums confirming that a ground-launched variant of China's YJ-12 ramjet-powered, radar-guided anti-ship missile is in service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as part of a coastal defence system.
The missile is shown in the picture being launched from a five-axle transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) at an undisclosed location. The TEL and launch containers are similar to those used with the CJ-10 cruise missile.
It is likely that the photographed system is the same one as that referred to by US network CNBC as the YJ-12B. Citing sources with direct knowledge of US intelligence reports, the media outlet reported on 2 May that Beijing had installed YJ-12B systems along with and HQ-9B self-propelled surface-to-air missile systems on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef in the disputed South China Sea.
A few weeks later, on 23 May, the United States disinvited China from participating in this year's multinational 'Rim of the Pacific' ('RIMPAC') maritime exercise due to what Washington described as Beijing's "continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea", which "only serves to raise tensions and destabilise the region".
"While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection, and other non-military functions, the placement of these weapon systems is only for military use," stressed US Department of Defense (DoD) spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan at the time, calling on Beijing to "immediately" remove the military systems and "reverse course on the militarisation of disputed South China Sea features".
The YJ-12 missile, which has an estimated maximum range of 500 km, has a long ogival nose and a roughly constant-diameter cylindrical body, to which four rectangular-section fairings are attached.
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