Mystery Chinese seaskimmer missile

There are news about a weird Chinese missile that prompted me to check if the news were from April, 1st.





this is supposed to be the mystery missile

First a bit of a physics correction; radars operate mostly line of sight, but radio physics are MUCH more tricky than a check of line of sight. A missile that flies at 10 m altitude may evade detection by a radar that detects a missile flying at 4 m altitude. It's very, very tricky. The topic of a missile that flies at 50 cm altitude hasn't come up in any publication I read till yesterday and I'm no physicist myself, so I can't tell how much more advantageous such a 50 m flight profile may be over the 4-6 m altitude sea skimming figures published about typical subsonic seaskimmer missiles. I strongly suspect that it's still much more complicated than a simple horizon calculation.

Second, the safest way to "fly" THAT low would be to use ground effect very much for an 'air cushion' that keeps you from crashing at a gust.

The missile photo looks nothing like typical ground effect vehicles. They tend to have big wings, whereas that missile photo shows tiny wings and an at most widened fuselage.

Third, this would be a very, very rare example of the PR Chinese trying an innovative own way to address military challenges. Most of their military hardware are copies of the concept (if not specific types) of foreign designs, including the ballistic anti-ship missile (which the Soviets pioneered in the 1970's, but then gave up on in favour of ordinary nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles).

So right now I wonder if the May 4th article may be based on a Chinese April 1st article. The photo looks more like a target drone to me.



  1. A missile needs to go fast and at sea level the air is quite thick. So, no need for big, high drag wings (even though you could go a long way with ground effect for little fuel, it would be too slow at the very end). However, the air intakes are on the bottom, which on a sea skimmer would be sucking in salt water in moderate seas. So, it can't be a very low level skimmer (because a big gulp of sea water could flame out an engine).

    Therefore building an extremely low level sea skimmer missile using ground effect and putting air intakes on the bottom doesn't make a lot of sense.

  2. I suppose that little thing on top is the air inlet, but 40 or 80 cm altitude doesn't make much different in regard to water spray.