January 13, 2023


China/U.S. Designation YJ-18/CH-SS-NX-13
Missile Variants YJ-18A, YJ-18B, YJ-18C
Mobility and Role Vertically-Launched Anti-Ship Cruise Missile
Designer/Producer People’s Republic of China
Range 540km
Warhead Type and Weight Nuclear or Conventional/300kg
MIRV and Yield No MIRV capability/100kt
Guidance System/Accuracy Inertial/30m CEP
Stages/Propellant Multistage/Solid
IOC/Retirement 2014/Still in service
Status/Number of Units Operational/ N/A


The YJ-18 is reportedly derived from the Russian 3M-54E “Klub” missile and developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) Third Academy beginning in the mid-1990s, entering service in 2014. [1] It is a vertically-launched, anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) that can travel at supersonic speeds of up to Mach 3 and has a range of 540km. [2] The YJ-18 carries up to a 300 kg high explosive (HE) warhead that can take out a destroyer-sized ship and severely damage a carrier-sized vessel. The PLA Navy’s LUYANG III class DDGs and the RENHAI class CGs deploy the YJ-18A, which entered service in 2015 and is the latest Chinese ASCM. [3] The YJ-18 is also deployed on PLAN submarines as the YJ-18B, a submarine-based variant designed for land targets. According to a March 2019 report, the YJ-18C, a land-attack variant to be fired from commercial shipping containers, is under development. [4]

Strategic Implications

The YJ-18’s ability to accelerate to supersonic speeds close to its target makes it difficult for ships to destroy the incoming missile with on-board guns such as the Aegis system, which it was specifically designed to counter. The YJ-18 constitutes a massive improvement in range over previous Chinese ASCMs and contributes to their anti-access area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. China’s A2/AD capabilities could prove critical during a conflict in the western Pacific and adds to its growing arsenal of anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles.



[2] Pilger, Michael. “China’s New YJ-18 Antiship Cruise Missile: Capabilities and Implications for U.S. Forces in the Western Pacific.” U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. October 28, 2015. http://origin.www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/China%E2%80%99s%20New%20YJ-18%20Antiship%20Cruise%20Missile.pdf.

[3] https://www.defense.gov/CMPR/

[4] https://freebeacon.com/national-security/china-building-long-range-cruise-missile-launched-from-ship-container/

Missile Threat and Proliferation