Reuters says in its annual report on the Chinese military, the Pentagon said earlier this month the Chinese navy had deployed about 60 of the Houbei class fast-speed missile boats.
With an estimated top speed of more than 36 knots, the 225-tonne boats can attack with their YJ-83 anti-ship missiles with a range of 200 km. They also appear to be equipped with advanced data processing links so these missiles can be directed from sensors on other aircraft or ships.
The boat also has a close-in weapon system for defence against incoming missiles and what appears to be a launcher for anti-aircraft missiles. A retired US navy officer says, “This craft is a purebred ship killer, perhaps even a carrier killer,”
The fleet of 60 such crafts is an important part of China’s so-called “anti-access” strategy aimed at keeping foreign forces away from waters surrounding Taiwan in time of conflict.
I’d have a whole lot more confidence in the LCS program if they were armed with an anti-ship missile that could defeat missile armed Fast Attack Craft like this.
Yes, I know, the preferred method would be to engage them with HARMs and Mavericks via TACAIR, but even then, some leakers are going to get through. Surface naval forces need to be able to engage.
The current US primary anti-ship missile, the Harpoon, while a good weapon, is old, and worse, it is quite slow, making it vulnerable to intercept.
The other US anti-ship missile, the SM-2, is an anti-air weapon with a secondary anti-surface capability. The problem is, it is primarily a line-of-sight weapon because it needs its target illuminated by the launching ship.
I’d be happy to see an interim SM-2 based anti-ship variant with an autonomous seeker.