For the first time, the PLA has officially revealed the performance of its advanced anti-ship hypersonic missile, sending a warning to the US amid high tensions in the Taiwan Strait, Chinese analysts said.
China’s YJ-21, or Eagle Strike-21, has a terminal speed of Mach 10, cannot be intercepted by any anti-missile weapons system in the world and can launch lethal strikes towards enemy ships, according to an article posted by the official Weibo account of the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force on Monday.
The public debut of the missile at a leading air show in November shows that “the Chinese navy has begun to establish a more destructive combat system in the offshore defence system, which has brought its denial combat capability to a higher level”, the article reads.
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The PLA navy released video footage of the YJ-21 being launched in April from a Type 055, the People’s Liberation Army’s largest and most advanced destroyer.
The article declares that the missile travels six times the speed of sound all the way, and has a terminal speed of 10 times the speed of sound, meaning a speed of 3,400 metres per second (11,155 feet per second) when it hits the target.
“Such a terminal speed cannot be intercepted by any anti-missile weapon system at this stage. Even if it is dropped directly at this terrifying speed [hitting the target] without an explosion it will cause a fatal strike to the enemy ship,” the article stated.
The debut of its export variant, the YJ-21E, at last year’s Airshow China “shows that the domestic version of the Eagle Strike-21 ship-borne hypersonic missile is no longer the navy’s most advanced ship-borne hypersonic missile, and more advanced ship-borne hypersonic missiles are likely to have appeared,” it said.
The article was first published on the website of China Science Communication, Guangming Online last year, but it was reposted by an official PLA account for the first time, a development experts described as a clear message for the US.
US military is gearing up for war over Taiwan, Chinese analysts say
Li Jie, a naval analyst in Beijing, said the global situation was complex – and was further complicated by the US and Nato lending weapons support to Ukraine as well as issues in the Taiwan Strait.
“US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s plan to visit Taiwan this spring will complicate the nearby situation, and the hype of a China-US war beforehand by a US general shows the US has prepared to provoke [China],” Li said.
“Beijing must adopt more powerful measures to respond to US provocations if McCarthy visits Taiwan, rather than repeating what it did when Nancy Pelosi visited by encircling the island for military exercises.”
Li said officially revealing the performance of YJ-21 and other weapons was therefore essential for the PLA to “give them a warning”.
Another analyst said it was notable the article was posted by the Strategic Support Force, a service branch of the PLA created in 2015 which offers support for all aspects of the armed forces, with roles ranging from cyber warfare to data analysis.
Song Zhongping, a former PLA instructor, said the post showed that the YJ-21 must rely on the satellite system provided by the Strategic Support Force for navigation and guidance.
“All branches must cooperate with the Strategic Support Force to make this weapon play its due role in systematic combat,” Song said.
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