Pakistan’s newest fighter jet could launch a powerful, but strange, new anti-ship missile. The Pakistani air force is acquiring more than a hundred JF-17s from China in order to complement older F-16s, Mirages and J-7s.
To help the single-engine JF-17s target enemy warships such as India’s growing fleet of aircraft carriers, Islamabad’s air arm in 2017 and 2018 bought 60 CM-400AKG anti-ship missiles. The CM-400AKG, a product of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, is an unusual weapon. Unlike many other anti-ship missiles, it follows a high ballistic flight path.
The supersonic standoff missile first appeared in public at an air show in Zhuhai, China in 2012. The missile appeared in a display with the JF-17, a highly-evolved derivative of the MiG-21 that China has sold to Pakistan, Myanmar and Nigeria at a cost of around $30 million per plane.
Six years later, the Pakistani defence ministry revealed that it purchased 60 CM-400AKGs at a total cost of $100 million. The acquisition transformed the country’s JF-17s into potent ship-killers.
In 2018 photos circulated apparently depicting a JF-17 firing a CM-400AKG in a test that perhaps took place a few years earlier.
The CM-400AKG reportedly weighs around 2,000 pounds and carries either a 300-pound fragmentation warhead or a 400-pound penetrating warhead. It reportedly can fly as far as 150 miles.
The missile boasts an internal navigation system that guides it near its target, at which point a combination infrared- and radar-seeker takes over. Sources claim the weapon’s circular-error probability is as small as 15 feet, meaning it has a 50-50 chance of striking within 15 feet of its aim point.
The CM-400AKG reportedly can manoeuvre in its final seconds of flight, helping it to dodge enemy defences. It tops out at five times the speed of sound, sources claim.