In what was their first public demonstration, China launched its “YJ-21” or “Eagle Strike 21” hypersonic anti-ship missile, said to be designed to target aircraft carriers, in what seems to be a show of Beijing's naval capabilities in a warning to the US Navy.
The display of naval power came ahead of the Chinese navy’s 73rd anniversary last weekend.
In a video clip of the apparent launch, the YJ-21 is shown being launched from a Type 055 vessel, a guided-missile destroyer said to be the largest, most advanced destroyer in China’s fleet.
The Type 055 has 112 vertical launch missile cells and is designed as a multiple-role destroyer, armed with various weaponry to tackle different objectives.
Air defense, anti-missile defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons are all within the 055’s capabilities.
Arming Type 055s with YJ-21 missiles is intended to deter foreign ships, mainly the US Navy, from getting involved in the event of an attack on Taiwan, Beijing-based naval analyst Li Jie told the South China Morning Post.
“The matching of the Type-055 and YJ-21 missile was designed for anti-access and area-denial to counter America’s maritime hegemony in the region,” Li said.
Zhou Chenming, a researcher at the Yuan Wang military science and technology think tank in Beijing, agreed on Li’s analysis.
“Beijing is worrying that the unlimited US military assistance to Ukraine and a recent American congressional group tour to Taiwan might make Taipei believe Washington may provide the same help in the event of a conflict between the mainland and Taiwan,” Zhou said.