YJ-18 has been described as a dual-speed control Anti-ship cruise missiles since it enjoys certain advantages of subsonic missiles and supersonic missiles. 

The YJ-18 carries a heavy explosive warhead, which, combined with the enormous kinetic energy from the fast speed, can severely damage a warship with tens of thousands of tons of displacement with only one strike. After the vertical launch, the missile’s turbojet engine can fly at a cruise speed of Mach 0.8 for about 180 kilometers.

After reaching that point, the warhead section separates, and a solid rocket engine ignites, allowing at a top speed of Mach 2.5-3 for about 40 kilometers. The missile can perform evasive maneuvers in the air before hitting by maneuvering at 10G acceleration to avoid enemy interception by air-to-air or surface-air missiles.

China's YJ-18 Missile
China’s YJ-18 Missile

The maximum range of 290 nautical miles has a light design and heavy explosive warhead that can severely damage a warship in just one stroke. The YJ-18 is almost impossible to intercept because its fast speed only leaves the enemy with a mere ten or so seconds to attempt an intercept. The YJ-18 will be important in allowing China to develop a genuinely expeditionary “blue water” navy.

Compared with the Taiwan crisis that occurred between the United States and China in 1996, China’s current military power could put the US Navy’s surface fleet at risk to a considerable extent from the mainland. The actual capabilities of China’s new YJ-18 missile are yet to be proven, but revealed capabilities suggest that the US Navy’s aircraft carriers may not be dominant for much longer.

Over the past time, China has constantly improved the power of its new generation anti-ship cruise missile system, the YJ-18, and is expected to pose a great threat to the US Navy and regional rivals. Since 1996, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has invested heavily in both its surface and submarine fleets. China has significantly improved its anti-ship cruise missile strike capability through foreign acquisitions and indigenous development.

China is currently fielding the H-6J bomber, a maritime derivative of the H-6K, which can carry up to six supersonic YJ-18 ASCMs each, allowing for saturation attacks against U.S. naval groups within the Second Island Chain. These will supplement the existing PLAN H-6G bombers capable of carrying up to four YJ-18s.


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