Updated: Zhuhai Surprise: China’s Third “Russian” Supersonic ASCM

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Written by Richard D. Fisher, Jr.

China’s 10th Zhuhai Airshow does not start until next Tuesday, but it already has one new rock-star on the Chinese military-blogosphere, the new CX-1 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).  Already, scores of images of its full-size display mock-up show an uncanny resemblance to another famous supersonic ASCM, the Mach 2.8-3.0 speed Russian-Indian BrahMos.  Both share the distinctive cone-inlet air intake, a two-stage structure and similar dimensions. 

A wall poster claims CX-1 has a speed of Mach 2 to Mach 3, has a radar seeker and uses a Lo-High-Lo flight profile. Other Chinese reports say its range is between 50km and 280km.  This means it is likely an export model to comply with the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).  It is initially being marketed as a ground-launched anti-ship cruise missile that can be used in concert with short-range ballistic missile and artillery rockets, cued by unmanned aerial vehicles.  Later versions are expected to be vertically-launched from ships and perhaps submarines.

 

While there is no confirmation that Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia sold CASC the technology from its Yakhont supersonic ASCM as it did to India to provide the basis for BrahMos, this should not be surprising.  India and Russia have Russian-made Novator 3M-54 Club supersonic terminal-stage ASCMs and Zvezda Kh-31 supersonic anti-radar/ship missiles.  But China has also purchased or otherwise acquired the technology to produce its own versions, the larger and longer-range YJ-12, now in Chinese service, is based on Zvezda technology and the YJ-18 is believed to be a shorter range version of the 3M-54. So CASC’s CX-1 is likely China’s third “Russian” supersonic ASCM.   

A November 8 Chinese state television report on naval weapons contained a very brief view of a new missile being vertically launched from one of the PLA Navy’s two weapons testing ships.  While the missile bears a resemblance to CX-1 before nose-cap release and fin extension, Chinese commentators are not unanimous that this is CX-1.  But if real, then it would follow that a longer range version may be nearing PLA Navy service entry as the CX-1 version may soon be ready for export.

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the corporate source for the CX-1 missile and to correct the name of the Russian company that makes the 3M-54 Club supersonic terminal stage anti-submarine cruise missile. The item also adds additional information.

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