C-803 - Development and Design

Development and Design

The chief designer for the YJ-83 and the YJ-85 (the latest member of the YJ-8 series) is Huang Ruisong (黄锐松), who succeeded Liang Shoupan (梁守槃) upon his retirement. Ruisong designed the YJ-83 to have an operational range of over 255 km when launched from the air and roughly 150 to 200 km when surface-launched. The YJ-83 anti-ship missile appeared in the National Day parade for the first time in 1999, and was only armed with a radar seeker. Seekers for the YJ-82/C-802 upgrade are also available for the YJ-83/C-803, but it is not yet clear if the Chinese have adopted these seekers. The launching and storage unit of the new missile retained the capability to handle earlier missiles, including the CY-1 ASW missile.

The YJ-83 program began in the early months of 1994 and was rumored to be an attempt to stay ahead of Taiwan, which was developing its own supersonic anti-ship missile, the Hsiung Feng III. To speed up development, the original radar seeker and turbojet engine of the C-802 was retained, although significant modifications were needed in order for the systems to be fully compatible with the new missile.

From November 1995 through November 1996, a total of five flight tests were conducted. Three were failures, including a test conducted on 15 November 1995, during which the test missile immediately plunged into the water as soon as it left the launcher. Analysis of the event later revealed that all failures were caused by the missile's propulsion systems. As a result of the failures, a suggestion was made to abandon the project altogether and instead adopt imported Russian systems. This idea was rejected, and after numerous attempts and trials the domestic development and upgrade of the indigenous propulsion systems of these missiles was finally completed. However, the project was still considered to be in limbo due to other minor problems.

In 1997, funding for the project was greatly reduced, resulting in only two test flights that year, both of which failed. The failures were caused by problems with cables that caused the radio altimeter to provide incorrect information. Although the problem was solved by redesign, a new problem appeared soon afterward, this time in production. The rudder control mechanism malfunctioned during quality tests, and it was discovered that instead of using a screw as it was supposed to, a broken drill was used instead. As a result, both the production manager and the project manager were removed from their posts and sent away to be retrained. A new quality goal of "zero defects" was implemented, and everyone was reminded of the quality goal on a basis by reiterating the slogan, "ero mistakes in work, zero defects in products, zero risks in test flights". In June 1998, a test flight was conducted after the new quality policy was implemented, and was successful. Four months later, two missiles scored direct hits on their targets at the maximum range in test flights. Immediately following these two successes, another three tests were conducted, two of which were completely successful, while the other was considered partially successful. After many more tests, the missile was finally accepted into service.

Work immediately progressed to improve the missile. A datalink antenna was fitted onto the missile to receive midcourse targeting information from naval surveillance aircraft, including the Harbin SH-5 (Y-8X Maritime Patrol Aircraft) and helicopters, including the Aérospatiale Super Frelon and the Eurocopter Dauphin. This feature has become standard for the all missiles currently in production. Unlike the seekers of the YJ-82/C-802 upgrades that were later adopted for the YJ-3/C-803, the datalink was first developed for the YJ-83/C-803, and then later adopted for the YJ-2/C-802 upgrade. However, it is not clear if this datalink is the one that is only compatible with the radar seeker and the dual radar and infrared guidance seeker, or the one that is compatible with all types of seekers.

Due to the supersonic speed of the missile's terminal stage, it is nearly impossible for the missile to fly in terrain-following mode, and thus the new missile has not yet had the same land attack capabilities against inland targets as its predecessor. Despite its improvement, however, the future of the YJ-83 (C-803) is uncertain, because a more advanced missile (YJ-12) is being developed by the China Haiying Electromechanical Technology Academy (中国海鹰机电技术研究院), with its chief designer being the same designer of the C-803, Huang Ruisong (黄锐松). It is unlikely that the YJ-83 (C-803) will enter service in large numbers due to the availability of more advanced missiles already being developed.

The Pakistani Navy operates these missiles in its Khalid class Agosta 90B submarines.

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