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Images show PLAAF J-16 armed with YJ-83K anti-ship missile

For the first time images have emerged showing a People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) J-16 multirole fighter armed with the radar-guided, 180 km-range YJ-83K anti-ship missile: an indication that China has enhanced the capabilities of this aircraft.

A still taken from CCTV video footage showing a PLAAF J-16 multirole fighter aircraft carrying an YJ-83K anti-ship missile.

The images, which were part of a 16 February report by state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) focusing on new equipment, show a J-16 belonging to the PLAAF’s 40th Air Brigade at Nanchang-Xiangtan carrying two YJ-83Ks. It is unclear, however, when the images were taken.

The turbojet-powered missile, which is armed with a 165 kg high-explosive, semi-armour piercing warhead, cruises at speeds of Mach 0.9 at an altitude of 20-30 m before descending to 5-7 m during the terminal phase (sea-skimming capability).

There have also been reports of the J-10C fighter being armed with the 5.3 m-long missile, but no images of this have yet emerged.

The J-16 had been seen carrying the KD-88 air-to-surface missile in the past, but not the YJ-83K, which in PLA Navy Air Force service is the standard anti-ship missile carried by all JH-7s and JH-7A fighter-bombers, H-6G bombers and J-15 carrier-borne fighters.

In addition to the radar-guided YJ-83K, an improved version called YJ-83KH has been developed featuring an imaging-infrared seeker. The weapon has a stated maximum range of 230 km.

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