In what was their first public demonstration, China launched its “YJ-21” or “Eagle Strike 21” hypersonic anti-ship missile, said to be designed to target aircraft carriers, in what seems to be a show of Beijing’s naval capabilities in a warning to the US Navy.
The display of naval power came ahead of the Chinese navy’s 73rd anniversary which took place last weekend.
In a video clip of the apparent launch, the YJ-21 was shown being launched from a Type 055 vessel, a guided-missile destroyer said to be the largest, most advanced destroyer in China’s fleet.
The Type 055 has 112 vertical launch missile cells and is designed as a multiple-role destroyer, armed with various weaponry to tackle different objectives.
Air defense, anti-missile defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons are all within the 055’s capabilities.
Arming Type 055s with YJ-21 missiles is intended to deter foreign ships, mainly the US Navy, from getting involved in the event of an attack on Taiwan, Beijing-based naval analyst Li Jie told the South China Morning Post.
“The matching of the Type-055 and YJ-21 missile was designed for anti-access and area-denial to counter America’s maritime hegemony in the region,” he noted.
“The ship-borne YJ-21 missile is capable of hitting any ship in an aircraft carrier strike group. To counter America’s maritime hegemony in the region, the Type-55 and YJ-21 missiles were designed to work together for аnti-аccess and аreа-deniаl,” he added.
The “YJ-21” or “Eagle Strike 21” missile has a strike range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and can reach speeds of 3,806 mph.
The multi-mission Type 055 destroyer, which entered service in 2020, is equipped with a variety of sensor and weapon hardware. It is thought to include air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship, anti-submarine, and land-attack weapons, with a total of 112 vertical-launch missile cells on board, 64 in the forward section and 48 in the aft section.
The behemoth - the result of more than 50 years of military research and development - is also said to have been designed with various stealth features.
A radar cross-section reduction layout and a smoke stack designed to reduce the vessel’s infrared signature are among them. Chenming Zhou, а researcher at the Beijing-bаsed Yuаn Wаng military science and technology think tank said the combat range of the YJ-21 could be increased to а whopping 932 miles if lunched from the air.
Meanwhile, China’s most modern anti-submarine helicopter has entered service, appearing in footage to mark the navy’s anniversary.
State broadcaster CCTV aired the footage - which shows a Z-20 helicopter taking off from the deck of a Type 055 destroyer - on Friday 22 April, one day before the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the navy.
Different versions of the helicopter - designed to carry troops or conduct reconnaissance and rescue missions – have already entered service with the People’s Liberation Army, appearing in the National Day Parade in October 2019, and with the People’s Armed Police.