China Develops New Weapon Similar To Russia's Kinzhal Missile Launched From H-6K Bomber

China Develops New Weapon Similar To Russia's Kinzhal Missile Launched From H-6K Bomber
China Develops New Weapon Similar To Russia's Kinzhal Missile Launched From H-6K Bomber

Beijing - China appears to have succeeded in developing a new air-launched ballistic missile, much like Russia's Kinzhal missile. China appears to be planning to equip Xi'an's H-6K long-range bomber with ballistic missiles.

Quoted from The War Zone, Saturday (11/5/2022), although its origin has not been confirmed, the missile looks very similar to the CM-401. These missiles were formerly known as anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) which were launched by trucks or ships to hit static targets on the ground.

“The appearance of this mysterious weapon bears similarities to the CM-401 ASBM, indicating the adaptation of the same missile for air launch applications. The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) publicly launched the CM-401 in Zhuhai in 2018," wrote The War Zone.

Preliminary photos show the bomber with serial number H-6K 11097 carrying a pair of new missiles in the center pylons under its wings. H-6K bombers arrive at Zhuhai Jinwan Civil Airport for the China Trade Fair Airshow. This particular aircraft was assigned to the 8th Bomber Division of the Southern Theater Command, People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The unit's missile-carrying bombers have also taken part in the previous edition of the China Airshow.

The missile is estimated to have a maximum diameter of about 2.8 feet (0.85 meters), the same as the Russian Iskander quasi-ballistic missile, which has also been adapted for air launch, such as the Kinzhal. Kinzhal has also often been associated with an anti-ship role, although this does not appear to have been demonstrated.

Overall, however, the mystery missile's profile is generally consistent with other similar missile developments around the world, including the tapered or bi-conic form. A rough estimate of the size of the new missile is about 23 feet (7 meters) long. According to CASIC, the CM-401 in land-launch and ship-launch applications has a maximum range of over 180 miles (289.6 km). The H-6 bomber, on the other hand, has a range of 3,700 miles (5,954.5 km), although with its more efficient engine it can fly significantly further. The CM-401, when launched from the coast of China, can even hit targets on the east coast of Taiwan.

It is a weapon known to the west as the CH-AS-X-13 and is related to the H-6N bomber, which is specially adapted to carry very large payloads. The CM-401 missile is used to strike very complex targets, with terminal velocities between Mach 4 and 6. Even with launch from an aircraft at high altitude, its speed can increase as with most ballistic missiles including the Kinzhal. Another interesting claim from CASIC concerns the option of the CM-401 launch platform which can fire two missiles at different trajectories against one or two targets at once.

The CM-401 appears to have been developed to tackle large, slow-moving sea targets such as aircraft carriers, as well as other major surface combatants and high-value vessels. Based on a mockup of the CM-401 shown earlier in Zhuhai, the missile appears to use a phased array radar in the nose.

This radar actively targets the target during its terminal phase. It should be noted that the concept of air-launched ballistic missiles is actually not new. The US Air Force plans to adopt a nuclear-tipped ALBM, known as the Skybolt. However, the missile designed to carry the B-52 bomber was scrapped. Recently the concept has resurfaced, not only in China but also in Russia and Israel.

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