March 2016 By Kristin Horitski


China/U.S. Designation YJ-18/CH-SS-NX-13
Missile Variants YJ-18A/YJ-18B
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 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. [1] 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 deploys the YJ-18 on its Luyang III DDG and Type 055 CG surface combatant ships and Song-, Yuan-, and Shang-class attack submarines. [2] Although China currently has only one Luyang III destroyer with a vertical-launch system capable of firing the YJ-18, it plans to have ten more ships operational by 2017. [3]

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. This ASCM also increases the stand-off distance for Chinese vessels 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.


[1] 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.

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://sputniknews.com/asia/20150415/1020902506.html

Missile Threat and Proliferation