China Highlights Anti-Ship Combat Capabilities with YJ-18 Missile Footage Amid RIMPAC Exercise

YJ-12 anti-ship missile.

The 2024 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), led by the United States, commenced on June 27 around the Hawaiian Islands. Analysts believe this exercise is part of the U.S. and its allies’ preparations against the potential threat of China using amphibious assault ships to attack Taiwan. Not wanting RIMPAC to monopolize attention, China’s state broadcaster CCTV simultaneously released footage of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) new missile, the “YJ-18,” emphasizing its formidable anti-ship capabilities.

Foreign media reports noted that the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer participating in this year’s RIMPAC, was spotted equipped with Naval Strike Missiles (NSM) upon its arrival in Honolulu. The NSM is a state-of-the-art stealth anti-ship missile with a range of approximately 180 kilometers. It is equipped with a highly precise imaging infrared seeker that can evade enemy defenses, offering a significant upgrade over the previously deployed AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles. However, when compared to the PLA’s large warships’ anti-ship missiles, the NSM’s range is relatively shorter.

Amid the ongoing RIMPAC, Chinese media has been actively releasing military propaganda, highlighting the PLA’s primary anti-ship missiles, the “YJ-12” and “YJ-18.” These missiles, developed in recent years, boast a range of up to 290 miles (466 kilometers).

CCTV unveiled a new PLA missile “YJ-18” with powerful defense penetration capabilities, emphasizing its all-round launch capabilities.

CCTV reports that the “YJ-18” missile features powerful low-altitude penetration capabilities, marking it as one of the PLA’s most advanced anti-ship weapons. In the footage released by CCTV, the “YJ-18” is shown flying just above the water’s surface after launch, a flight pattern described as difficult for radar detection. The “YJ-18” can target and strike aircraft carrier groups 660 kilometers away. After modifications, it can utilize a unique “variable speed” mode: during the initial flight phase, the missile travels at subsonic speeds to extend its range. As it nears its target, it accelerates to 3-4 Mach, enabling an effective strike. This sudden acceleration makes it challenging for even the most advanced enemy defense systems to intercept.

Moreover, the “YJ-18” can be launched from various platforms, including submarines, land-based systems, aircraft, and ships. CCTV highlighted that this multi-platform launch capability allows the “YJ-18” to be effective in diverse combat environments, significantly enhancing the PLA’s flexibility and combat power.

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