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China’s new “aircraft carrier killer” missile could add teeth to Pakistan navy


Sep 20, 2014
SOURCE: Ajai Shukla / Business Standard

To counter the US Navy’s aircraft carriers projecting power into the South China Sea, Beijing developed a formidable, “carrier killer” weapon: the Dong Feng-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), which can accurately strike warships 1,500 kilometres away. An improved version, the Dong Feng-26, targets aircraft carriers 3,000-4,000 kilometres away.
Beijing could not export these ASBMs to allies like Pakistan. The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which China has committed to, prohibits the export of missiles with ranges over 300 kilometres.

However, at the recent Zhuhai Air Show in China, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT), the country’s leading producer of rockets, offered international customers a new M-20B ASBM. This is an export version of the “warship killer” ASBM, with its range conveniently restricted to 280 kilometres to adhere to the MTCR.

With China already building warships and submarines for Pakistan, the Indian Navy is anticipating the introduction of short-range ASBMs in Pakistan’s arsenal. This could upset India’s clear naval advantage over Pakistan.

China’s military needs the 1,500-kilometre range of the DF-21D, since it is preparing to take on the US Navy’s aircraft carrier battle groups at long ranges in the Western Pacific battle space. Pakistan, which would be content with preventing Indian warships from approaching coastal targets like Karachi or Gwadar, would be content with a range under 300 kilometres.

M-20B missiles arrayed along the Pakistani coast could achieve that cheaply and effectively. ASBMs, which cost barely Rs 100 crore each, are cost-effective counters to frigates and destroyers that cost over Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) apiece, or a Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) aircraft carrier.
“If these missiles enter the Pakistani arsenal, it would certainly complicate our operational calculations. The Indian Navy is observing whether China supplies these missiles to Pakistan,” said Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan (Retired), director of the National Maritime Foundation, the navy’s official think tank.

Requested for comments, the Indian Navy spokesperson stated: “Though it is a matter of concern, the navy is seized of the issue and fully prepared to address the threat posed by ASBMs.”

China has a long record of supplying Pakistan ballistic missiles. The Federation of American Scientists (FAS), a respected weapons monitoring group, records that in 1987, Beijing delivered M-11 ballistic missiles to help Islamabad create a nuclear deterrent. In 1991, Washington sanctioned Beijing for supplying Pakistan the longer-range M-9 missile, in violation of MTCR norms.

According to the CALVT, the M-20B’s payload – a 480-kilogramme package that could be a small nuclear weapon or a conventional high-explosive payload — travels at high supersonic speeds and has a manoeuvrable trajectory, making it difficult for a warship’s air defence systems to shoot down. It is ideal for “rapid, precision attacks on frigates and destroyers”, say the makers.

“We are assessing the ASBM’s capabilities. Manufacturers routinely overstate the capability of weaponry they are selling. It is fantastically difficult to strike a moving warship with a ballistic missile. But we are developing air defence systems that could shoot down ASBMs,” says Chauhan.

The Zhuhai Air Show showcased another option for Pakistan to keep Indian warships at bay: the CM-401 missile, which its manufacturer, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), described as the world’s first “ultrafast ASBM.”

According to CASIC, the CM-401 uses a “near space trajectory”, flying 20-100 kilometres above the earth and manoeuvring at hypersonic speeds throughout its flight, making it extremely difficult to intercept.
CASIC said the missile travels at 4,900 kilometres per hour – or about four times the speed of sound. As it dives to kill the target, it accelerates to six times the speed of sound. It is extremely difficult to intercept a missile travelling at these hypersonic velocities.

CASIC claims the CM-401’s 290-kilogramme warhead will strike a warship target nine times out of ten.

In contrast to China’s reliance on ASBMs, India’s anti-ship missile arsenal consists primarily of the BrahMos. This is a cruise missile that skims the surface of the ocean towards its target, without leaving the atmosphere like a ballistic missile. A cruise missile is more accurate than a ballistic missile, but easier to shoot down.

The official Chinese Military website quoted Beijing-based expert, Wu Peixin, who said existing radars and ship-borne weapons cannot intercept the CM-401 due to its unique trajectory and hypersonic speed. “Users will be able to effectively deter an enemy’s vessels, especially aircraft carriers, from approaching their coast,” said Wu.


Jun 6, 2006
United States
India had to learn that it cant have it all .. others can also have goodies as well one has to defend it self against evil then one must do what one has to do simply !!
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New Recruit

Dec 7, 2018
Can someone shed some light what will be the role of new attack submarines (AIP), new airbase dedicated for marine role?? JF-17 with Antiship weapons like CM-400, C802, Harba, Harpoon etc.
Or this ASBM is most necessary?

Muhammad Omar

Feb 3, 2014
Even if Pakistan gets itsi hands on it India shouldn't be worried as this is a defensive weapon not offensive and everyone has the right for their defence :D:D

Foxtrot Delta

Sep 18, 2015
Oh rest aasured aircraft carriers and surface ships of indian navy are well within perfect 100% hit probability when they enter arabian sea. No missile defence could save those slow *** sitting ducks. We already have the tech used in Dong feng Anti carrier missile. We just haven't annouced it yet. Why announce it? Or invest in it just yet? India has only 1 vintage very very old aircraft carrier which can be sunk even with help of Harba, Ck series missiles or the new torpedo we made Recently. The carrier killer would be needed if a carrier group like chinese or American carrier group would somehow he hostile towards pakistan.

There is no chance of a potent carrier group like united states, china or russian navies have against pakistan navy, all these 3 nations are friendly towards pakistan. If a need comes in face of indians getting a carrier group worth consideration or more than 1 carrier the. pakistan navy can counter it in multuple cost effective ways like the DF anti carrier missile.

For now there is no threat from aircraft carriers.

Jobless Jack

Aug 12, 2012
See a few days ago I was saying it was silly of the Indians to invest in aircraft carriers

the article proves my point exactly

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