China is close to fielding its first land attack cruise missile (LACM), a terminally-guided development of the air-launched YJ-6/C-601 (CAS-N-1 Kraken) anti-ship missile.

US and Taiwanese sources say the LACM is designated the YJ-63 and features a TV-guided seeker mated to a new version of the YJ-6/C-601. China developed a TV-guidance package for the short-range C-701 anti-ship missile which was revealed at the 1998 Zhuhai air show.

The LACM is said to be in advanced testing and there could be up to 200 deployed by 2005.

The YJ-63 will be carried by the Xian H-6 bomber (a copy of the Tupolev Tu-16). Although the maritime strike variant, the H-6D, typically carries two YJ-6/C-601s, there are suggestions that four LACM will be carried.

It is expected that up to 25 H-6s will be converted to launch theYJ-63. The YJ-6 is credited with a 100km (54nm)range, which could be exceeded by the YJ-63, which is expected to carry a 500kg (1,100lb) warhead. This missile will be more accurate than the short-range ballistic missiles China is deploying along the Taiwan Strait, which Taiwan's defence ministry says now number more than 400.

Source: Flight International