Pakistan claims to have a hypersonic missile: truth or fad

Pakistan claims to have a hypersonic missile: truth or fad

The Pakistan Air Force has announced that it is armed with hypersonic missiles, which should significantly strengthen its defense capabilities. This arsenal expansion was put in the statement on a par with the commissioning of Chinese J-10C fighters, Chinese Wing Loong II UAVs, and new EW and air defense systems.

At the same time, the specific name of the hypersonic missile, which is now in service with the Air Force of Pakistan, was not named. That was immediately met with some skepticism in the Western specialized mass media. In particular, Defense News believes that, in theory, Islamabad can purchase the Chinese YJ-21E missile again.

Pakistan claims to have a hypersonic missile: truth or fad

The YJ-21E is the aviation version of the YJ-21 anti-ship ballistic missile for Type 055 destroyers and was first publicly demonstrated in 2022. At the same time, it is quite possible that it exists in two versions in the full-air two-stage CJ-21 scheme and only in the form of the second stage. The missile’s maximum speed is declared, but without specifying the version, up to Mach 10 and a range of 2,000 km. Note that the hypersound starts at Mach 5.

Pakistan claims to have a hypersonic missile: truth or fad
YJ-21, CJ-21, YJ-21E

But in the air version, the carriers of this missile are Xian H-6K., a licensed copy of the Soviet Tu-16 aircraft that is not in service in Pakistan.

Thus, the most likely option is the anti-ship CM-400AKG (an export version of the YJ-12 with a reduced range from 500 to 250 km), also from China, which is generally the main arms exporter to Pakistan. This missile is already in Pakistan’s service and is part of the armament of the JF-17 fighter jet. The country became aware of its presence in the arsenal in 2013.

Pakistan claims to have a hypersonic missile: truth or fad
JF-17, CM-400AKG in foreground

At the same time, the CM-400AKG has no declared hypersonic speeds because although it is very high-speed Mach 3.5-4, according to estimates, the maximum parameter is up to Mach 5. However, as the publication writes, this rocket can still cross this barrier under certain launch conditions.

That is, despite the statement of Pakistan, most likely, it is not about the fact that the country received hypersonic weaponsMoreover, the assignment of such epithets is already a consequence of fashion.

The ability of a missile to reach this speed is not really a sign of a hypersonic weapon, which is required to be able to maintain this speed throughout the flight and not be accelerated to it.

But because in the Russian Federation, they called their Kh-47 “Dagger” hypersonic, although it is only a solid-fuel missile that accelerates to this speed, now it is called anything that accelerates to more than Mach 5. But then, most ballistic missiles should be included in this class. And it turns out that even the first mass-produced V-2 ballistic missile, which fully reached a speed of Mach 5, was also “hypersonic” according to this approach.