China's CJ-10 "Long Sword" cruise missile has capabilities that match those of the American Block-IV Tomahawk and could be devastating in a potential naval conflict against the US, Japan or Taiwan, according to a report published in US-based political magazine The National Interest.
The May 12 article, jointly written by military experts Dennis Gormley from the University of Pittsburgh, Andrew S Erickson from the Naval War College in Newport and Jingdong Yuan from the University of Sydney, claims that China's cruise missile development has been advancing rapidly under the radar while the US Navy has limited itself severely in both the type and quantity of its own anti-ship cruise missiles.
In terms of land-attack cruise missiles, China has deployed the air-launched YJ-63 with a range of 200 km and the 1,500+ km-range ground-launched DH-10, the article said, adding that both systems have benefited from technical assistance from Russia.
The report says the YJ-63 features a fair weather electro-optic seeker with man-in-the-loop steering via data link, while the DH-10 contains a GPS/inertial guidance system and uses terrain contour mapping for redundant midcourse guidance, plus a digital scene-matching sensor.
China is said to have purchased foreign systems and assistance to boost its land-attack cruise missiles, with Harpy anti-radiation drones from Israel and the country could even possess the Russian Klub 3M-14E SS-NX-30 cruise missile.
The article goes on to say that China has shown indications of focusing on both air-launched and ship-launched missiles, with the CJ-10, an air-launched version of the DH-10, having already been test-launched from the new H-6K bomber.
"On such critical parameters as range and CEP, CJ-10 reportedly matches those of the Block-IV Tomahawk," the article states, adding that it has been suggested that a nuclear capable variant, known as the CJ-20, is also under development.
China has already experimented with at-sea testing with canister launchers containing either YJ-18 cruise missiles or DH-10s, the report said, noting that future PLA Navy destroyers such as the Luyang III Type 052D will likely be equipped with a new vertical launching system to allow greater capacity for such missiles.
The authors then explore a scenario in which mainland China attacks Taiwan, where the PLA could use its anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles along with other A2/AD capabilities to attack US naval forces and undermine Taiwan's ability to use its air force to thwart Chinese attack options.
China has 255-305 ballistic missiles and land-attack cruise missile launchers within range of Taiwan and capable of striking a range of defense facilities, airfields and civilian infrastructure.
"This could impact not only Taiwan itself but also US and Japanese forces if they attempt to defend the island," the report said.