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Airshow China 2021: China showcases export variant of YJ-18 submarine-launched cruise missile

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) is showcasing an export variant of the YJ-18 submarine-launched anti-ship cruise missile at Airshow China 2021, which is being held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai.

The missile has been designated as the YJ-18E and CASIC has received approval from the Chinese government to sell the sea-skimming weapon to overseas users, the English-language website of the state-owned China News Service, ECNS, reported on 29 September.

The YJ-18 is an inertial navigation system (INS) and global positioning system (GPS) guided missile that uses an active radar seeker during its terminal phase of its flight. The weapon resembles Russia's 3M-54T (SS-N-27A ‘Sizzler') missile and it has been designed to engage large surface combatants such as destroyers.

Further details of the missile are scant, but the US Department of Defense estimates that the YJ-18 has a maximum range of about 290 n miles. Besides its Type 052D destroyers, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is believed to be deploying the weapon from its Song, Shang, and Yuan classes of submarines.

“The YJ-18E is likely to be the best cruise missile currently available to any buyer seeking a real ship killer in the international arms market …”, saids the ECNS report. Besides large vessels, the YJ-18E is able to engage targets on land. It is also deployable from surface vessels and ground vehicles, the report added.

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