Test firing of a Chinese C-602-YJ-62 long range anti-ship cruise missile

In mid-2019 Pakistan announced that its Zarb anti-ship missile had entered service. In early 2018 Pakistan revealed the existence of a land based mobile anti-ship missile system using Zarb. The system consists of three missiles, each in a container/launcher mounted on an 8x8 truck. The containers are elevated before the missile is fired over the cab. In early 2016 Zarb was successfully test fired as a land-based anti-ship missile system.

So far few other details have been released about the missile but it appears that Zarb was a locally made version of the Chinese C-602. That missile has been exported by China since 2005 and is a 1.3 ton sub-sonic missile powered by a jet engine with a max range of 280 kilometres and a 300 kg (660 pound) warhead. C-602 uses satellite guidance to reach the general area where the target and then a radar to find a specific ship to hit.

Pakistan had bought 120 C-602s in 2009 but China is willing to license local production to favoured customers. This is usually done quietly, without press releases and such. Since Pakistan is the largest customer for Chinese weapons exports it makes sense they could get such a license and build their own C-602s and call them Zarb. China also has a similar mobile launcher for land-based C602 missiles.

Pakistan also uses imported C-802A anti-ship missiles on warships and some warplanes. This is a 6.8 meter (21 foot) long, 360 mm, 682 kg (1,500 pound) missile with a 165 kg (360 pound) warhead. The C-802 has a max range of 120 kilometres and moves along at about 250 meters a second. Iran and North Korea produce their own version of the C-802. Like the C-602 the C-802 can also be launched from land using fixed or truck mounted launchers.

Until 2004 China was building new warships armed with the C-602 but that missile is now considered obsolete and replaced by the YJ-18, which is launched from VLS cells. YJ-18 entered service in 2015 and weighs about one ton, has a 300 kg (660 pound) warhead and max range of 500 kilometres. YJ-18 travels at about 900 kilometres an hour until it gets within a few kilometres of its targets then makes a final approach at over 2,500 kilometres an hour. YJ-18 has a much more capable guidance system than the C-602 and has recently introduced an upgraded YJ-18A with reliability and guidance system improvements.

Indian warships have defensive weapons that can handle the C-602 but might have a problem with the YJ-18. Israeli Barak 8 missiles India uses for its warships is designed to handle high-speed anti-ship missiles and Israel has assured India that it will continue to upgrade Barak-8 because Israel faces threats from Iranian anti-ship missiles off the Lebanon coast. Iran is also a customer, although a discreet one, for Chinese missiles and has built copies of Chinese weapons without getting sued, so far.

Strategy Page