China's New Stealth Missile
Could Nuke US
Without Warning
By Charles Smith

According to a congressional defense analyst, China is trying to acquire, and may well already possess, submarine-launched, supersonic land-attack cruise missiles -- weapons which, when deployed by Chinese navy submarines, could shower U.S. coastal cities with nuclear-tipped stealth missiles in a surprise attack that may not be detected until the first bombs are detonated.
The Russian NPO Mashinostroyenya "Yahont" (NATO SS-N-26) missile "was put on sale in August during a Russian air show," said Richard D. Fisher, a defense analyst working for Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif. Fisher, who attended the air show in Moscow, told WorldNetDaily that the Russians openly bragged about having sold the weapon system to a major world power. Both Fisher and Aviation Week and Space Technology confirm that China was by far the most likely customer.
The new Chinese navy missile is intended to fly at very low altitude to defeat radar detection, and strike its target at supersonic speed. No Western nation currently has such a weapon. In fact, the only similar weapon, an underwater version of the nuclear-armed U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile, has been withdrawn from service.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy plans to obtain the Yahont to arm a new fleet of submarines. The Yahont can be armed with a nuclear warhead estimated to be six times more powerful than the atomic bomb used on Hiroshima.
< dNetDaily first reported the Russian offer to sell the Yahont last month. It can deliver a 440-pound warhead at an impact velocity faster than a rifle bullet -- 2,460 feet per second -- and can be armed with a nuclear warhead with the explosive power of 120,000 tons of TNT.
The Yahont ramjet missile is nearly 30 feet long, over two feet in diameter, and weighs in at 8,598 pounds. An integral kerosene-fueled ramjet, it can travel at over twice the speed of sound -- MACH 2.6 -- and has a range of 180 miles. People's Liberation Army Navy visits U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor
In its Sept. 20 issue, Aviation Week and Space Technology fingers China as the likely recipient of Russia's Yahont in the article, "Large Anti-ship Missile Detailed At Air Show."
"It was billed as the primary anti-ship weapon for the Sukhoi Naval variant of the SU-27 Flanker jet fighter, but they have a sub version too," stated Fisher, a former Asian affairs specialist for the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
Fisher noted the Chinese navy would have good reason to acquire the very large and very deadly cruise missile for underwater use. According to Fisher, China is in the process of acquiring a fleet of blue-water submarines capable of operating far from Asian shores. In a recent defense report, "Dynamic elements in the cross-straits military balance," Fisher noted the Chinese navy is arming itself with a deadly combination of silent submarines, rocket torpedoes and supersonic nuclear-tipped stealth missiles.
"The PLAN has completed the acquisition of four Russian Kilo-class conventional submarines," Fisher wrote. "The Kilo 636 is said to be nearly as quiet as the early version of the U.S. Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine."
"The next few years may also see China produce a new class of nuclear-powered submarine, the Type 093. Again benefiting from Russian technology," noted Fisher. "The type 093 is projected by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence to have a performance similar to the Russian Victor-III nuclear attack submarine. By one estimate, four to six Type 093s should enter service by 2012."
The Russian-made Victor-class nuclear attack submarines were first produced at the Leningrad yards in the 1970s. Each Victor weighs over 5,000 tons and is over a football field in length. Victor submarines come equipped with eight 21-inch torpedo tubes. The Russian Victor-III submarine is considered an extremely fast and dangerous craft, able to sink any surface vessel.
"China is said to have purchased from Kazakhstan the Shkval rocket torpedo," wrote Fisher. "This torpedo travels at a speed of 200 knots, or five to six times the speed of a normal torpedo, and is especially suited for attacking large ships such as aircraft carriers."
There are open questions regarding whether U.S. defenses could handle a Yahont/Shkval armed Type 093 nuclear attack submarine.
American-built anti-missile defenses, such as the U.S. Army Patriot and U.S. Navy Standard may not be able to stop the new Chinese supersonic Yahont missile. An American-built Allied Signal target drone called "Vandal" with similar performance reportedly defeated the U.S. Navy AEGIS anti-missile system during a recent test, scoring a direct hit.
However, the U.S. Navy will not be able to do any more AEGIS testing against the super-sonic "sea-skimmer"-type of missile because of budget cutbacks. And Allied Signal officials have told WorldNetDaily they will be closing the facility in Mishawaka, Indiana that builds the Vandal target missile by early 2000.
Earlier this year, the Clinton administration canceled the purchase of more Vandal missiles from Allied Signal, leaving the Navy without a means to test and strengthen its defenses against the new Chinese Yahont.


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