There is ample evidence that China is working on an anti-carrier ballistic missile capable of being launched from H-6N bombers.
China is developing a new line of anti-ship ballistic missiles, according to recent videos of the H-6N bomber being tested (ASBMs). the capability of deploying from the air
The missile is known as the YJ-21, and little is known about it except that it was designed to be launched from the Chinese Air Force’s H-6N long-range strategic bombers.
The DF-21D has an airborne variant.
According to a video of the testing process between the H-6N and the YJ-21 that was posted on Twitter, analysts believe the YJ-21 is a shortened variant of the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. The DF-21D was first used by the Chinese military in 2010. The DF-21D is dubbed the “carrier killer” because it is capable of neutralizing enemy carrier groups from a distance of more than 1,000 kilometers. According to the video above, the YJ-21 is most likely in testing before being officially commissioned. It is unclear whether this missile model is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.
The H-6N is now operational, according to the US Defense Intelligence Agency’s 2021 China Military Strength report, but there is no information on whether this bomber model is equipped with an anti-ship ballistic missile.
The H-6N is the most recent variant of China’s H-6 bomber family, which was based on the Soviet Tu-16 aircraft. The H-6 can now perform long-range strike missions thanks to numerous improvements and upgrades. In addition to the YJ-21 missile, this variant can also carry a super unmanned aerial vehicle.
Having bombers capable of carrying anti-ship ballistic missiles clearly provides China with a significant deterrent in defending its coastal waters. However, determining the combat capability of this weapon duo is difficult in the absence of specific specifications. However, because most analysts believe the YJ-21 is a development of the DF-21D, its range is expected to be between 1,200 and 1,400 kilometers, with a conventional warhead. It must, of course, be capable of hitting moving targets at sea.
The YJ-21 (similar to the DF-21) warhead’s ability to reach supersonic speeds in the final phase poses a significant threat to any warship, even those with advanced systems. Ship defense system of the highest level. The DF-21 has earned the moniker “carrier killer” as a result of this.
China can fully deploy the DF-21 and YJ-21 in parallel in a maritime military confrontation with potential adversaries to hit the enemy carrier group from afar. As a result, China will be able to neutralize the opponent’s forces before they can enter the war.
That is the theory; in fact, all anti-ship missile lines require precise data in order to fly to the correct target and achieve the desired result, but China is almost silent about it. The DF-21D uses the system as a guide.
With the DF-21D in service for more than a decade, China has demonstrated that the missiles can perform well. Their development of the YJ-21 is one example of this.
The benefit of having YJ-21 for China
When compared to ground-based missile systems, launching an anti-ship ballistic missile from the H-6N has the advantage of extending the missile’s range. Essentially, using a combination of YJ-21 attack submarines and DF-26 missiles, China will be able to expand its coastal defense zone, pushing the enemy’s battle group further away. The YJ-21 missile would benefit not only from the aircraft’s own range, which is said to be around 5,900 km without aerial refueling, but also from the fact that launching from the air no longer significantly extends the missile’s range. At the same time, because anti-ship ballistic missiles are launched from aircraft, they have a higher survivability than ground-based systems. There are ongoing reports that the H-6N can also be used to deploy hypersonic missiles, in addition to the possible deployment of the YJ-21. If China is pursuing an air-launched hypersonic missile, such as the DF-17 combined with the H-6N, it is clearly attempting to outperform Russia and the United States in the hypersonic missile development.
Again, the ability to launch hypersonic missiles hundreds or thousands of kilometers from Chinese territory would strengthen China’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy. Hypersonic weapons will allow Beijing to bring key enemy military facilities into view without getting too close, and they can also be used against ships like the YJ-21. Analysts appear to agree, however, that analyzing what the YJ-21 will do based on a few test flight videos is difficult, but this is evidence of China’s progress. a component of the anti-access/area-denial strategy In this scenario, as the attack ranges of these weapons continue to expand, the threats that the US navies and their allies will face in the future become increasingly difficult.