China is developing a new supersonic anti-ship missile

According to information published by the South China Morning Post on September 19, 2022, Chinese scientists are working on developing a supersonic anti-ship missile capable of diving underwater and hitting targets.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Chinese YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles (Picture source: Mil.huanqiu)

The 16.4-foot missile will be able to fly at more than twice the speed of sound at an altitude of about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) before diving underwater, where it will be able to swim another 20 kilometers (12 miles), the newspaper reported, citing the research team.

When the missile is within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of its target, it will switch to torpedo mode and charge at about 100 meters per second (200 knots), forming an air bubble that significantly reduces resistance, Sputnik reported.

In addition, the missile will be able to change course or crash-dive to a depth of 100 meters to evade underwater protection systems without losing speed. According to the scientists, no ship currently in service can retaliate against such a fast "cross-media" attack, the newspaper reports.

The main challenge the scientists face is creating a fuel system powerful enough for the planned maneuvers. Researchers believe it is possible to use boron as a fuel component, as it reacts violently with both air and water, producing a tremendous amount of heat.

People's Liberation Army Navy already uses the YJ-12 which is a Chinese supersonic anti-ship cruise missile. It is an air-launched missile that resembles a lengthened Kh-31 and is close in shape to the GQM-163 Coyote aerial target.

According to Chinese sources, the YJ-12 has a speed of around Mach 2 if launched from low altitude and up to Mach 3.2 if launched from high altitude, with a maximum range of around 380 km (240 mi; 210 nmi) depending on launch altitude; terminal attack altitude is 15 meters. In a September 2014 article published in Joint Forces Quarterly, the missile was credited with a range of up to 250 km and a speed of Mach 2.5.

In February 2015, military expert Li Li claimed the YJ-12 has a 400–500 kg (880–1,100 lb) warhead and a range of 300 km (190 mi; 160 nmi) when traveling at Mach 3, or 400 km at a speed of Mach 4. The YJ-12 can also do evasive maneuvers to avoid anti-missile threats.

It has been test-launched from Xian H-6 bombers and will be fitted on the JH-7B. Reportedly, they may also be launched from the J-10, Su-30MKK, the J-11, and J-16, For warships, it equips the Type 051B destroyer and PLAN overhauled Sovremenny-class destroyer.