A JH-7B fighter bomber carrying a YJ-12 supersonic missile. (Internet Photo)
Photos of China's new YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missile and YJ-100 anti-ship cruise missile were recently revealed on a Chinese military website, reports the Global Times, a tabloid published under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily.
Both missiles are designed to be launched from the H-6G strategic bomber and JH-7B fighter-bomber of the PLA Navy Air Force, the paper said. The YJ-100 is developed based on the country's CJ-10 cruise missiles, while it can be classed as a suitable medium-range missile with a range between 550 and 650 kilometers when launched in mid-air.
Through studying the photos released online, military experts estimated that the size of the YJ-12 is about six meters long with a radius between 0.55-0.6 meters, smaller than expected. The YJ-12 also looks much smaller than the Russian-built 3M55 and 3M80 and it may have a shorter range and loading capacity as well, Global Times said. Meanwhile, experts believe the YJ-12 can carry a warhead of 2,000-2,500 kilograms.
As for the range of the YJ-12, it is estimated to be 150 kilometers when launched in low altitude. When the missile is launched in high altitude, the range will increase to between 250 and 300 kilometers. The range is lower than expected however, with some experts previously forecasting a range of 400 kilometers when launched from low altitudes. Despite its size, a single YJ-12 missile can paralyze or sink an enemy surface combat vessel, the paper said.