Range of the army's new missile beats US estimate

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 November, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 November, 2002, 12:00am

The mainland has test-fired a new cruise missile with twice the range American intelligence agencies previously estimated, according to a US report.

The YJ-83 anti-ship cruise missile was test-fired from a fighter bomber this month over Bohai Bay in northern China, the Washington Times reported yesterday, quoting United States intelligence officials.

The new missile was reported to be a derivative of the C-801 anti-ship missile and would be difficult to stop because it could travel at supersonic speeds. It can also receive target information in flight.

The report said that US intelligence officials previously estimated the missile's range at about 120km. However, the latest test - following the July 4 trial - showed that it had a range of about 250km.

According to experts, the longer range shows that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is now capable of 'over-the-horizon' attacks on enemy ships.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the PLA at the Jamestown Foundation based in Washington, said the new missile would probably be fitted on the upgraded JH-7A fighter bomber.

'With a range of 250km, it gives the PLA and its export clients a new anti-ship missile that can fire beyond the reach of US naval anti-aircraft missiles like the SM-2, which will soon equip Taiwan's Kidd-class destroyers,' Mr Fisher said.

'This test also indicates that longer-range, land-attack cruise missiles are just around the corner.'

Taiwan legislators were still debating whether to buy four Kidd-class destroyers from the US, although initial approval was given by a legislative committee last month.

Experts believe the latest PLA advance will further propel the ongoing cross-strait arms race.