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Bombers with ballistic missiles, China is targeting US aircraft carriers

According to the newspaper’s writer Thomas Newdick The DriveRecent videos of China’s H-6N bomber testing show that China is developing a new line of anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) capable of being deployed from the air.

The missile is known as the YJ-21 and not much is known about the weapon except that it was designed to be launched from the U.S. H-6N long-range strategic bombers. Chinese Air Force.

Airborne version of the DF-21D

Based on a video of the testing process between the H-6N and YJ-21 posted on Twitter, Newdick thinks that the YJ-21 could be a shortened variant of the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. The DF-21D has been in service by the Chinese military since 2010. The DF-21D itself is dubbed the “carrier killer”, designed to neutralize enemy aircraft carrier groups from a distance of more than 1,000 kilometer.

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The image shows the H-6N carrying a ballistic missile believed to be the YJ-21 during a recent test. (Photo: The Drive)

Also from the video above, the YJ-21 is likely in the testing phase before being officially commissioned. It is not yet clear whether this missile model can deploy a nuclear warhead.

According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency’s 2021 China Military Strength report, the H-6N has now been operational, but there is no information on whether this bomber model is equipped. anti-ship ballistic missile.

The H-6N is currently the most modern variant of the Chinese-developed H-6 bomber based on the Soviet Tu-16 aircraft. After many improvements and upgrades, the H-6 is now able to perform long-range strike missions, besides the YJ-21 missile, this variant can also carry a super unmanned aerial vehicle. bar.

Having bombers that can carry an anti-ship ballistic missile clearly gives China a tremendous deterrent in defending its coastal waters. But it is difficult to determine the combat capacity of this weapon duo when the specific specifications are lacking.

However, most analysts agree that the YJ-21 is a development of the DF-21D, so its range is estimated to be between 1,200 km and 1,400 km, accompanied by a conventional warhead. Of course it must be able to hit moving targets at sea.

The fact that the warhead of the YJ-21 (similar to the DF-21) can reach supersonic speeds in the final phase poses a great threat to any warship, even if it is equipped with advanced systems. Advanced ship defense system. It is this that has earned the DF-21 the nickname “carrier killer”.

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With characteristic designs, the YJ-21 is most likely a shortened variant of the DF-21. (Photo: militarywatchmagazine)

In a maritime military confrontation with potential adversaries, China can fully deploy the DF-21 and YJ-21 in parallel to hit the enemy carrier group from a distance. In this way China can neutralize the forces attacking the opponent before they can enter the war.

That is the theory, in fact anti-ship missile lines all need accurate data to be able to fly to the right target to achieve the set purpose, but China is almost not public about it. The system serves as a guide for the DF-21D.

However, with the DF-21D in service for more than a decade, China clearly has a way for the missiles to do their job well. This is partly demonstrated by their development of the YJ-21.

China’s advantage in having the YJ-21

The advantage of launching an anti-ship ballistic missile from the H-6N is that the missile’s range will be extended compared to ground-based missile systems. Basically, this will help China expand its coastal defense zone, pushing the enemy’s battle group further away, through a combination of YJ-21, attack submarines and DF-26 missiles.

In the event of the YJ-21 being launched from the air, the missile would not only benefit from the aircraft’s own range, which is said to be around 5,900 km without aerial refueling, launching from in the air no longer significantly extends the missile’s range. At the same time, the fact that anti-ship ballistic missiles travel by aircraft gives them increased survivability compared to ground systems.

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The belly clone of the H-6N was modified to be able to carry missiles or heavy UAVs. (Photo: The Drive)

As well as the possible deployment of the YJ-21, there are ongoing reports that the H-6N can also be used to deploy hypersonic missiles. If China is indeed pursuing an air-launched hypersonic missile, such as the DF-17 combined with the H-6N, it is clearly trying to catch up with Russia and the US in hypersonic missile development. not to land.

Once again, the ability to deploy hypersonic missiles hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from Chinese territory would further enhance China’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy. Hypersonic weapons will help Beijing bring key military facilities of the enemy into sight without getting too close, and they can also be used against ships such as the YJ-21.

However, analysts seem to agree that it is difficult to analyze what the YJ-21 will do through a few test flight videos, but this is evidence of the progress China is making. included in the anti-access/area-denial strategy. In this scenario, the threats that the US navies and their allies will face in the future become more and more challenging as the range of these weapons continues to expand.

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China’s DF-17 supersonic attack missile system. (Photo: 81.cn)

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