In another demonstration of its anti-ship capabilities, the Northern Theatre Command (NTC) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted military drills using its land-attack YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).
The exercise was held at Haiyang, a coastal city southeast of the Shandong Peninsula in China, by the 333rd Coastal Defence Brigade of the PLA’s Northern Theatre Command. China Central Television (CCTV), a state-owned broadcaster in China, subsequently released video footage from the drill.
It showed the brigade exercising with four 8×8 WS2400 transporter-erector-launchers (TELs)—each with three YJ-62 ASCMs—and an 8×8 battery command post vehicle, likely the system’s standard battery configuration.
The land-attack YJ-62 missiles, primarily observed carrying the PLA’s Eastern and Southern Theater Commands, are probably being used with an NTC unit for the first time. China’s northern border and the Yellow Sea (West Sea) are the focal points of the PLA’s NTC, which is focused on border security with Russia and the Korean Peninsula.
The missile earlier made headlines several years ago in 2016 when China reportedly placed the YJ-62 ASCM on Woody Island in the contested South China Sea. At the time, reports noted that deploying the missile would allow the PLA to attack any surface vessel up to 400 kilometers away.
1/3 A 🇨🇳PLAN Naval Regiment coastal battery formed by 4xYJ-62 AsCM over 8×8 WS2400 TEL vehicles (with 3xMissiles/each) +1x C2&Support vehicle in the Northern Theater Command (very unusual to see) conducting a field sea strike drills,including long range maneuvers pic.twitter.com/bYop8bQjsp
— Jesus Roman (@jesusfroman) January 23, 2024
The missile, developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, entered service in 2004 and was first equipped on the Project 052C destroyer (Lanzhou) with Flight Number 170. The missile is not the best in the Chinese arsenal, given that China has produced several lethal anti-ship missiles, including the YJ-21 hypersonic anti-ship weapon.
However, despite this, the YJ-62 certainly packs a punch. Also known as the “Attack Eagle” Yingji-62, it is a long-range anti-ship cruise missile that can strike surface ships of all classes and types, individually and in groups, even when the adversary uses fire and electronic counteraction. The missile can be deployed on different carriers and employed alone or in a volley that includes ground targets, day or night, in any weather.
Later, the YJ-62 missile served as the foundation for developing the coastal complex, which included work on the missile’s aviation version for use in arming China’s potent H-6K Xian bomber and submarine missiles.
An electromechanical contact delay (delayed action) fuzing device ignites the missile’s semi-armour-piercing (SAP) warhead. The company claims that a single bomb can destroy vessels up to 5,000 tonnes. The missile propulsion system comprises an unknown solid-propellant booster motor and a China Gas Turbine Establishment WS500 turbofan.
With a range of 40 km (21.5 n miles), the missile’s radar seeker covers an 80° arc and is effective against targets with a radar cross-section of 3,000 m². Its X-band active seeker is frequency-agile and mono-pulsive.
The missile’s export version was limited to 280 kilometers to comply with international control regimes, and the Chinese government allowed its sale in 2005 under the designation C-602. China’s closest ally in the region, Pakistan, reportedly put 120 C-602 missiles into service in 2009 to use them to offset Indian warships’ BrahMos missiles.
Experts claim that Soviet X-55 missiles acquired through Ukraine were used in the construction of the YJ-62, together with technology and Tomahawk missile components acquired from Afghanistan and Iraq. These claims could not be corroborated by EurAsian Times.
The missile is an essential component of the Chinese anti-ship capability, which is more significant as tensions in the Indo-Pacific region escalate, especially in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.
Meanwhile, while moored at its homeport, the PLA Navy conducted another set of drills involving its indigenously developed Shandong aircraft carrier.
Shandong Carrier In Action Again
The PLA Navy announced on January 23 that the aircraft carrier Shandong of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy recently carried out several drills while berthed at its homeport. According to observers, the port drills can improve the carrier’s capabilities at sea.
The PLA Navy’s news statement stated that at least one of the goals of the multi-course regular drills was damage control, as maintaining a warship’s endurance and combat capacity depends on its ability to put out fires below the deck.
The PLA Navy said that sailors outfitted with fire suits, hydraulic guns, and thermometers during a fire drill hurried to cabins that appeared to be on fire. They overcame obstacles like dense smoke, constrained sightlines, and small spaces, and they quickly finished the firefighting missions by following procedures like determining the cause of the fire, precisely putting it out, and ventilating the smoke.
Chen Xiao, a crew member on the Shandong aircraft carrier, claimed that because the exercise’s time and place were random, it felt more like actual warfare. “We will continue to review and summarize to work out weaknesses and provide safety guards for the carrier to carry out duties and missions,” Chen said.
According to the press release, another training session was a dispatch, coordination, and cooperation exercise that simulated the launches and recoveries of carrier-based aircraft. It was conducted in the flight planning and dispatch center on the island of Shandong.
The PLA Navy reported that dispatchers were helped to coordinate dozens of aircraft on the flight deck to complete processes quickly by using scaled replicas of the Shandong’s flight deck, various types of aircraft, and minor parts reflecting the status of aircraft.
When these procedures—which encompassed munitions loading and refueling, aircraft takeoff and landing, maintenance, and other tasks—were completed, crew members in various places, including the hangar and the deck, were given thorough information.
It is typical for the Shandong to return home for routine maintenance and replenishment after rigorous drills and maritime patrols. However, this does not imply that crew members would cease training, a Chinese military expert who wished to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The expert said that damage control and aircraft dispatch are crucial components of carrier operations that can be used at sea and in ports. According to publicly accessible sources, the Shandong, China’s second aircraft carrier and the first one built domestically, was put into service on December 17, 2019, and is now homeported in Sanya, in the Hainan Province of South China.