China's C601 Air-to-Ship Missile System

By Yang Jingqing, Xu Zimao

ーTS(―ーWT5HZ―ーSTHZ―ーJZ― The Bomber-6D with C601 missiles suspended under its wings

This article introduces the composition and characteristics of China's C601 air-to-ship missile weapon system and describes in detail the functions of the missile-borne equipment and launching process of the missile. The technical position and related airfield facilities of the system are also presented here briefly.


China-made C601 weapon system is an air-to-ship tactical missile system, with its missiles being suspend under the wings of medium- and long-range bomber-6D, which is designed to destroy large- and medium-sized surface ships and their formation invading middle and off-shore sea areas. The C601 weapon system is composed of the C601 missile, air-borne sighting and launching equipment and ground technical support equipment, etc.. It is a complicated system engineering with advanced technology, fire equipment, well coordinating function and high accuracy. It is proved that it is a practical and effective anti-ship defense weapon system with reliability and flexibility.

Characteristics of C601 Weapon System


The C601 has a wide launch airspace. It can be launched at the altitude of 1000-9000m above sea level. The combat radius of Bomber-6D is 1800-2000km. Therefore, one base can block 5-6 million km2 sea area.

Long range

The C601 missile's max. effective range is 100-110km, its max. powered flight range is 150km and the ーFL(3!K2― ーTPK,+113mm。170mm,S,DY#― ーTS(―ーST5HZ―ーWT5HZ―ーJZ―C601 missile antward appearanceーTS)― ーTPK,+33mm。115mm,YX,DY#― ーTS(―ーWT5HZ―ーSTHZ―ーJZ―C601 missile arrangamentsーST6BZ―\= [WT6BZ] ーJZ―1.Terminal guidance radar 2.Fuel tank 3.Missile bay 4.Wardhead 5.Oxidizer tank ーJZ―6.Fore and rear lays 7.Autopilot 8.Doppler radar 9.Liquid propellant rocke t engine

fire sector angle is \12<.

Fire and forget control

The missile flies to target automatically according to preset program after launch and does not need any guidance from ground and the bomber after launch. The launch bomber can leave the battle field at once or conduct the next mission, which not only guarantees the safety of both the bomber and crews, but also improves operational capability of the missile system.

Strong low altitude penetration ability

The horizontal flight altitude of the C601 missile is about 50m, 70m and 100m and its cruising speed is 0.9M. The missile is characterized by long autonomous flight, good concealment and strong low altitude penetration ability. The missile has 98% target acquisition probability within the max. effective range and over 90% self-guidance hit probability.

Great power

With large warhead grain, great power and shaped-charge armor-piercing explosive capability, the C601 missile can seriously damage or even sink a 3000T destroyer or over 10000T transportation ship with one hit. The missile can be fired with single one round or salvo of two rounds, which greatly improves missile's combat power.

Strong anti-jamming ability

The terminal guidance seeker of the C601 missile adopts an active mono-pulse radar which has anti-sea wave interference and anti-interference capability.

Simple equipment of the weapon system

The aiming and launch equipment of the C601 weapon system is mounted in the bay of Bomber-6D, which is easy to operate;

Most ground technical support devices are placed on the vehicle for easy deployment,

ーFL(3!K2― ーTPK,+92mm。112mm,ZS,DY#― ーTS(―ーST5HZ―ーWT5HZ―ーJZ―C 601 missile flrght trajectory\= [WT6BZ][ST6BZ] ーJZ―1.Glide phose 2.Horizontal flying phose ーJZ―3.Self Controlled phose 4.Honing phoseーTS)― ーTPK,+112mm。170mm,X,DY#― The missile hooking fruck hooking the C601 missile the Wings of the Bomber-6D

retraction and transportation. Airport equipment consists of only three vehicles. The bomber with missiles can take off after missile hooking preparation within half an hour.

C601 Missile

The C601 missile is a cruise missile which is composed of missile body, control and guidance system, power system, electrical system and warhead fuze system, etc.. The missile is 7.36m long, its max. diameter is 0.76m, wing span is 2.4m and its launch mass is 2440kg.

Aerodynamic arrangement and missile body

The C601 missile is a high-subsonic vehicle with surface symmetric aerodynamic configuration and highly swept triangular medium monowing semi-monocoque structure. The head section of the missile body is elliptical, the middle section is cylindrical and three tail fins with an included angle of 120< are installed in the contraction section of the missile. The whole missile has good dynamic and static stability and controllability.

Control and guidance equipment

The C601 missile has a launch and self-contained guidance and terminal automatic guidance system. The pilot can stabilize and control 3 separate angular loops, and control mass center and range together with a onboard Doppler navigation radar, a radio altimeter and a command system. It receives guidance signal from the active terminal guidance radar and completes automatic guidance.

Terminal guidance radar is a special radar composed of an antenna, a receiver, a signal processor, an automatic selector, a controller, electronic countermeasures and power supply units. It provides data about the flight direction and pitch of the target and guides the missile to hit the target according to preset guidance mode.

The missile radar bay is filled with high temperature gas from the compressor chamber of the aircraft engine to make sure that the terminal radar operation temperature is not less than -25< during the missile's flight in high altitude.

Power system

The power system of the C601 missile includes a liquid rocket engine, powerhead system, oxidizer draining system, oxidizer tank, fuel tank and high-pressure gas bottle. Onboard oxidizer draining system is used to drain oxidizer in the missile carried on the launch aircraft coming back to guarantee the safety of the aircraft, missile and air crew when landing and that the missile can be reused.

Warhead and fuze

The C601 missile has a shaped-charge armor-piercing blast warhead with high energy composite explosive in it. There is a hemispherical metal cover in the front of the warhead which forms high temperature metal jet flow that can pierce 1m armor. The missile uses two electric fuzes and one mechanical fuze which are all contact fuzes with three level safety devices which can secure fuze warhead coordination, and give play to the maximum armor-piercing effect of the warhead.

Flight trajectory and operation process after launch

The trajectory of the C601 is divided into 2 parts: self-control and self-guidance.

The missile is launched from the aircraft after fire parameters are preset in the C601 by airborne aiming and launching equipment. After the launch it makes powerless glide flight until it is dropped down to 850m above sea level, then the propellant tank is being pressurized and the engine ignites to accelerate the missile. Once the missile reaches the rated speed, the engine makes the missile keep constant speed flight. When the missile is dropped down to 500m above sea level, it begins to make very low altitude flight. When the missile arrives the predetermined range, the onboard Doppler radar shutdown, the active terminal guidance radar begins to search, acquire and track the target, and the guidance system automatically transfers to self-guidance to guide the missile to dive to the target. Because at this time, both the mechanical and electronic fuzes have already been armed and when the missile impacts the target, the fuzes begin to initiate warhead and destroy the target.

Improvement & Development

The power unit, electrical system and terminal guidance of the C601 missile are modified greatly to improve the function and increase the range of the C601 missile. The improved missile is called the C611 air-to-ship missile which uses the new high energy fuel and whose range increase to 200km. At the same time, the airborne aiming and launching equipment of the C601 missile has been also improved, which makes the same Bomber-6D launch both C601 and C611 missiles.

Airborne Aiming & Launching Equipment

The components and function of airborne aiming & launching equipment

The whole airborne aiming and launching equipment of the C601 missile is mounted on the Bomber-6D, which includes target acquisition radar, fire control director, launch console and missile hook and sensors for the measurement of all kinds of parameters, such as the heading reference gyroscope, barometric altitude sensing device, heading attitude system, Doppler navigation radar, inertial navigation system, fuselage gyro platform and wing gyro platform.

Operation process of aiming and launching missile

When airborne target acquisition radar finds the target on the sea, the navigator adjusts the target tracking beam gate on the radar display. The fire control director continuously sets the parameters such as self-control flight range, fire combined lead angle in the standby C601 missile. The missile will be launched once all conditions related to launch required are met.

Ground Technical Support Equipment

The ground technical support equipment of the C601 missile system includes missile technical position equipment and airport equipment, which guarantee the good technical state of missile weapon system.

Technical position equipment is mainly composed of the checkout facility for onboard subsystems, missile maintenance devices, mobile power station, air source track, air charging truck, washing truck, hoisting truck, and propellant filling and transportation trucks.

The mobile power station supplies 27V power during the test of the C601 missile. The air source and air charging trucks are used to detect air leak of the missile's power system and fill onboard gas bottle with high pressure air. The missile should be filled with the two kinds of propellant before use and be equipped with the warhead at last.

The C601 missile's airport equipment has 2 missile hooking trucks and 1 fire control director ground check vehicle. The missile hooking truck is a kind of self-propelled truck which is used for the missile to be hooked under the wings of the launching aircraft. Carrying one missile, it can lift, lower, move vertically and horizontally, rotate, pitch and roll. It is flexible and easy to operate. The fire control director ground check vehicle checks the airborne fire control director, takes part in the prelaunch check and simulates air prelaunch check of the missile.

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Copyright 1996 Institute for Astronaustics Information of China Aerospace Corporation