MELBOURNE, Australia — China has unveiled air-launched versions of its ship-based hypersonic missile and a standoff cruise missile at the Zhuhai Airshow, going on this week in the southern Guangdong province near Taiwan.
A pair of air-launched hypersonic missiles carried under the wings of a Xi’an H-6K bomber were at the show, which opened Tuesday and runs through Nov. 13.
The mock-ups carried the stenciling “2PZD-21.” Chinese media outlets have referred to them as air-launched versions of the YJ-21 anti-ship hypersonic missile carried onboard China’s Type 055 cruisers.
China’s state media showed a test-launch of the YJ-21 from onboard a cruiser in April. The air-launched version differs from its ship-launched counterpart in that it lacks the booster section needed to accelerate the missile during its shipboard vertical launch sequence.
The other notable weapon on display at the show, held at the Zhuhai Jinwan Airport, was the AKF-98 standoff cruise missile. This appears to be a jet-powered cruise missile in the class of the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 JASSM or European Storm Shadow/SCALP.
The Chinese missile on display was fitted on an ungraded Xi’an JH-7A2 fighter-bomber and features foldout wings that deploy after launch. The shape of the weapon’s body indicates that an effort was made to reduce the radar cross-section of the missile, similar to its Western equivalents.
It is unknown if the weapons are already in service or still in development, although the fact that the H-6K at the air show flew into the airport carrying the missile mock-ups suggests that carriage tests were completed.
Also on display is a laser-guided bomb that was shown at the 2018 Zhuhai air show. The 1,000-kilogram (2,205-pound) bomb, previously displayed as the YL-5, is now designated as the YJ-1000-1, with “YJ” being the abbreviation for YunJian, which translates to “Cloud Sword.”
The weapon is fitted with a high-explosive penetrator warhead and was seen carried on the JH-7A2 at the air show, although the guided bomb can also be carried by the Shenyang J-16 multirole fighter.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.