Silkworm missile

Silkworm missile

The HY-2 Haiying (zh-cpl|c=海鹰|p=hǎiyīng|l=Sea Eagle), known in Western media as the Silkworm missile, is an anti-ship cruise missile made by the People's Republic of China and still used by many countries in the Middle East. Since the 1980s, the Silkworm has been superseded in the Chinese military by the far more sophisticated "Yingji" series. The missile is also designated as C-201.


It is based on Shang You (SY), meaning Upstream anti-ship missile, which in turn, was based on the Russian SS-N-2 "Styx" missile. The missile looks almost identical to the Shang You (SY) anti-ship missile, and has similar performance. It has a maximum range of 95 km, with a 513 kilogram payload.


During its deployment, China discovered that the Shang You (SY) anti-ship missile could only be used by small missile boats with very few electronic components. When the missile was deployed on larger ships containing many complex electronic components, the missile proved subject to severe compatibility problems. This incompatibility could have resulted in the accidental ignition and/or possible explosion of the missile when all of the electronics on the ships were turned on to their maximum capacity.

Orders were given to solve the problem, and Hai Ying (HY) or Sea Eagle anti-ship missile was the answer. However, due to the political turmoil in China, such as the Cultural Revolution, the program did not succeed until the 1980s, too late for the planned platform, the Luda class destroyer, which was called upon for ballistic missile test missions in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, none of the Luda class destroyers deployed in that mission carried anti-ship missiles.

Once the Hai Ying (HY) anti-ship missile entered mass production, however, the Shang You (SY) anti-ship missile was not phased out immediately. Instead, it was continuously manufactured in parallel, as a cheaper alternative for export, as well as to arm the numerous classes of much smaller missile boats of the massive force, which totaled several hundreds, but eventually, Shang You (SY) anti-ship missile was replaced by its improvement, the Hai Ying (HY) anti-ship missile in Chinese service.


The Silkworm was developed at the Institute of Mechanics under Tsien Hsue-shen, a Chinese scientist who did his graduate studies at MIT and Caltech, before being deported by the United States in 1955 after being suspected of Communist ties. A book about this scientist's life was written by Iris Chang, entitled "Thread of the Silkworm".

The Silkworm gained fame in the 1980s when it was used by both sides in the Iran–Iraq War; both countries were supplied by China. During 1987, Iran fired a number of Silkworm missiles from the Al-Faw Peninsula vicinity striking the Liberian-flagged tanker "Sungari" and US flagged tanker "Sea Isle City" in October 1987 [ [ U.S. Flag Tanker Stuck by Missile in Kuwaiti Waters; First Direct Raid] . The New York Times. October 17, 1987.] and 5 other missiles struck areas in Kuwait earlier in the year. In October 1987, Kuwait's Sea Island off shore oil terminal was hit by an Iranian Silkworm which was observed to have originated from the Al-Faw pennisula. The attack prompted Kuwait to deploy a Hawk missile battery on Failaka Island to protect the terminal. [ [,9171,965887-1,00.html "The Gulf Punch, Counterpunch"] . Time (magazine).] In December 1987, another Iranian Silkworm was fired at the terminal, but it struck a decoy barge instead. ["Iranian Silkworm strikes decoy barge"; Daniel J. Silva. "St. Petersburg Times". St. Petersburg, Fla.: December 8, 1987. pg. 14.A.] Prior to these attacks the missile's range was thought to be less than convert|80|km|mi|1, but these attacks proved that the range exceeded convert|100|km|mi|1 with Kuwaiti military observers seeing that the missiles originated from the area and tracking them on radar along with US satellite imagery of the launch sites. [ Counter-Memorial and Counter-claim submitted by the United States of America] . June 23 1997.]

In March 1988, China agreed to stop supplying Iran with HY-2 missiles, though it is reported that supply continued into 1989. Iran has since developed the capability to manufacture these missiles itself.

On February 25, 1991 a shore-based launcher fired two Silkworm missiles at the USS Missouri (BB-63) which was in company with the USS Jarrett (FFG-33) and HMS "Gloucester". A Sea Dart missile from the Gloucester shot down one Silkworm and the other missed, crashing into the ocean.cite web |url= |title=TAB H -- Friendly-fire Incidents |accessdate=2007-02-25 |last=Rostker |first=Bernard |year=2000 |month=December |format=html |work=Depleted Uranium in the Gulf (II) |publisher=United States Department of Defense] More recently, the missile was used by Iraq against Kuwait during the 2003 Iraq War. [ [ friendly printed version:Iraq’s missile and rocket activity during spring 2003, according to the 32d Army Air and Missile Defense Command ] ]

During the 2003 Gulf War, Iraq used the Silkworm as a surface to surface missile by firing at least two of them at the coalition positions in Kuwait.

During the 2006 Lebanon War, it was initially reported that Hezbollah guerillas fired a "Silkworm missile" at an "Israeli warship" off the shores of Lebanon. Israeli sources later said that the missile used instead was a more sophisticated Chinese Yingji-82 (C-802). Notably, Syria and Egypt employed Soviet Styx missiles—the Russian-made precursors to the Silkworm—against Israeli warships in both the 1967 War of Attrition following the Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. While the missiles were ineffective during the Battle of Latakia in 1973, four Styx missiles sank the Israeli destroyer "Eilat" in October 1967, marking the first time that ship-to-ship missiles were successfully used in combat.

While it is not a particularly sophisticated missile when compared to others such as the Exocet, the Silkworm's unusually large warhead ensures that a single hit will inflict very serious damage.


Many derivatives of HY-2 are developed, including the following:
*HY-2: Basic variant radar-guidance land-to-ship missile *developed from the HY-1 missile
*HY-2A: IR-guidance variant
*HY-2AII: Improved variant of the HY-2A
*HY-2B: Improved radar-guidance variant with a mono-pulse radar seeker replacing the original conical scanning radar
*HY-2BII: Improved variant of the HY-2B with a newly designed radar seeker
*C-201: air-launched version
*C-201W Extended-range variant powered by a turbojet engine replacing the original liquid-fuel rocket motor. Export only

Naming confusion

The name "Silkworm" may be slightly inaccurate. Coined by Western analysts, this term has been apparently used to refer to both HY-1 and HY-2 missiles. C-201 is the numerical designation used by Chinese for these missiles. The HY-1 missile, NATO codename CSS-C-2 has been nicknamed both Silkworm, and Sea Eagle (from the Chinese "Haiying").

The HY-2 missile, NATO codename CSS-C-3 has been nicknamed Seersucker, Sadsack and Silkworm. This is the missile China has exported to many Middle Eastern countries, and is the missile referred to in this article, and in the mainstream media. Both the Shang You (SY) and the Fei Long (FL) families of anti-ship missiles are often also referred as Silkworms.

These weapons are, however, very similar to each other. The reason for such confusion is because all of them are developed from the same root: In addition to the original Shang You (SY) family for small missile boats that remained in large scale production for sometime, and the Hai Ying family first developed for larger warships later on, there is another anti-ship missile that is specifically designed to be launched from shore. This family is the Fei Long (FL) or Flying Dragon anti-ship missile.

The Fei Long (FL) family is the cheapest of the three because its requirement is the lowest: as the missile is stored in a controlled environment in a warehouse on land, the salinity, temperature and relative humidity requirements for the missile itself are greatly reduced. Because it is designed and deployed on land, the associate C4I systems can be located separately: the distributed system prevents electromagnetic interference, and if the C4I system is attacked, the distributed nature of the Fei Long (FL) family would greatly reduce casualties and damage. All of the system of Fei Long (FL) family can be used by the Hai Ying (HY) or Shang You (SY) families, but FL systems cannot be used on ships. The Fei Long (FL) family has had a much longer production run than the Shang You (SY) family.


This is the original Chinese version of Soviet P-15 Termit missile, and the first was SY-1, produced at Factory 320 (the Nanchang Aircraft Factory [南昌飞机制造厂] );; Chinese sources identify the designers as Li Tongli and Lu Lin. The main difference between P-15 Termit and SY-1 missiles is that the unreliable aneroid altimeter of P-15 Termit was replaced by a much more reliable radar altimeter in SY-1. The successor of SY-1, designed by Peng Lisheng (彭历生) and designated as SY-1A, had a mono-pulse terminal guidance radar seeker replacing the original conical scanning radar seeker. The missile received a NATO reporting name CSS-N-1 Scrubbrush.

The missile has been upgraded to be air-launched, and the air-launched version is known as C-601, which is the first air-launched anti-ship missile in China. The missile received a NATO reporting name CAS-1 Kraken.

*Length: 6.55 metre
*Diameter: 0.76 metre
*Wingspan: 2.4 metre
*Weight: 2,095 kg
*Warhead: 513 kg shape charged high-explosive
*Propulsion: One liquid rocket engine and one solid rocket booster
*Speed: Mach 0.8
*Range: 40 km
*Cruising altitude: < 20 meters
*Guidance: Inertial + active conical scanning terminal guidance radar (SY-1); or inertial + monopulse active radar (SY-1A)
*Single-shot kill probability: 70%


The liquid fuel engine was rather hazardous and unreliable, so a solid fuel rocket engine was developed. This engine also made it possible to reduce the size and weight of the missile while providing greater range. The warhead weight is also reduced, but its effectiveness was actually increased when a time-delayed semi-armour-piercing high-explosive design was adopted. The extended version developed is designated SY-2A.

*Length: 6 metre
*Diameter: 0.54 metre
*Wingspan: 1.7 metre
*Weight: 1,720 kg
*Warhead: 365 kg shape charged high-explosive
*Propulsion: A solid rocket engine and a solid booster
*Speed: Mach 0.9
*Range: 130 km []
*Cruising altitude: 20 metre
*Guidance: Inertial + active radar
*Single-shot kill probability: 70%

FL missiles

FL-2 of the Fei Long (FL) or Flying Dragon anti-ship missiles series, produced at the Nanchang Aircraft Factory (南昌飞机制造厂), shares the similarity with SY-2, except it is the cheaper version used for land use only, as mentioned earlier. A supersonic version, FL-7, has also been developed, which differs from the Silkworm missiles significantly.


The HY-1 received two separate NATO reporting name, the CSS-N-2 Safflower for the ship to ship version and the CSSC-2 Silkworm for the land based coastal defense variant.

*HY-1: Basic developmental version developed from the SY missiles, used only in very small numbers as land-to-ship missile for evaluation purposes. Did not enter series production and was replaced by HY-1J.
*HY-1J: Ship-to-ship variant for Type 051 DDG
*HY-1JA: Improved ship-to-ship variant with a new radar seeker for better anti-jamming capability and accuracy
*HY-1A: Land-to-ship variant based on the HY-1JA
*HY-1B: Low level target drone for the test of HQ-2A SAM
*HJ-1YB Target drone for the test of HQ-61 SAM Specifications:
*Length: 6.60 metre
*Diameter: 0.76 metre
*Wingspan: 2.4 metre
*Weight: 2,300 kg
*Warhead: 513 kg shape charged high-explosive
*Propulsion: One liquid rocket engine and one solid rocket booster
*Speed: Mach 0.8
*Range: 70 km
*Cruising altitude: 100~300m (early models); <20m (later models)
*Guidance: Inertial + active conical scanning terminal guidance radar (early models); or inertial + monopulse active radar (later models)
*Single-shot kill probability: 70%


The HY-2 is identical to the HY-1 but with a further stretched body. The missile features a round nose accommodating the radar seeker, a pair of mid-mounted delta wings on the middle section of missile body, and three tail control surfaces. The missile is powered by a liquid-fuel rocket motor, with a solid rocket booster attached under the missile fuselage.

The HY-2 is launched from land-based launcher and flies at an altitude of 1,000m during the initial stage of the flight. After the missile switched to the cruising mode, the flight altitude was reduced to 100~300m. During the final stage of the flight, the missile switched on its radar seeker and dives to an altitude of 8m until it hits the target. The single-shot hit probability is estimated to be 90%. Due to its oversized body, the HY-2 did not develop a ship-to-ship variant. The missile is obsolete and will be replaced by the YJ-8 series in the future. []

*Dimensions: Length: 7.48 m; Diameter: 0.76 m; Wingspan: 2.4 m
*Launch weight: 2,998 kg
*Warhead: 513 kg shape charged high-explosive
*Propulsion: One liquid rocket engine and one solid rocket booster
*Speed: Mach 0.8
*Range: 100 km
*Flight altitude: < 20m
*Guidance: Inertial + active conical scanning terminal guidance radar (HY-2); or inertial + IR guidance (HY-2A); or inertial + monopulse active radar (HY-2B)
*Single-shot hit probability: 90%


The HaiYing-3 (HY-3, also known as C-301 in its export name; NATO codename: CSS-C-6 Sawhorse) is the active radar-homing, ramjet-powered supersonic land-to-ship missile developed by China Haiying Electro-Mechanical Technology Academy (CHETA, also known as 3rd Space Academy). The missile was developed in the 1980s based on the design of the HY-2 (C-201) and the ramjet technology of the cancelled YJ-1 (C-101). The development was completed in the early 1990s but the missile did not enter service.

The HY-3 is a large-size missile with a slim forward body and sharp nose, and a fatter rear half with four solid rocket boosters and two ramjet engines located aft of the missile body. There are a pair of front-canards on the front fuselage, four control surfaces on the rear fuselage, and four smaller stabilising fins attached on the solid rocket boosters. The booster motors accelerate the missile to past Mach 1.8 and the kerosene-fuelled ramjet engines accelerate the missile to a cruise speed of Mach 2.0. Its range is variously reported as up to 130km, and it can fly as low as 50m in its terminal attack phase. The missile is programmed to dive from cruising altitude to under 30m before the active-radar terminal phase begins, then dive onto the target just prior to impact.

The 3.5t missile is launched from a land-based launcher. Each firing unit consists of four launchers, a target acquisition radar, a fire-control unit, a power unit, and 8~12 missile reloading vehicle (each with one missile). []

*Length: 9.85m
*Diameter: 0.76 m
*Wingspan: 2.24 m
*Weight: 3,400 kg
*Warhead: 300~500 kg time-delayed semi-armour-piercing high-explosive
*Propulsion: Two side-mounted ramjet engines; four solid propellant boost motors
*Speed: Mach 2.5
*Range: 130 km
*Flight altitude: 50 m
*Guidance: Inertial and terminal active radar


The HY-4 development of the C-201 is a mid-range ground-, air-, and ship-launched cruise missile. Development of the C-201 HY-4 is believed to have started in the mid-1970s, replacing the C-201 HY-2 liquid propellant sustainer motor with a small turbojet engine, and adding a the monopulse active radar seeker. Apart from the substitution of the turbojet engine, the overall configuration of the HY-4 variant of the C-201 missile is similar to the HY-2 variants of the C-201, with two delta wings and tri-form rudder and tail. The missile has a radio altimeter which allows the cruise height to be varied between 70 and 200 m altitude, followed by a steep dive onto the target. The air-launched version is designated as C-401.

*Developer: China Sea Eagle Electro-Mechanical Technology Co.
*Length: 7.36 m
*Diameter: 0.76 m
*Wingspan: 2.4 m
*Weight: 1,740 kg
*Speed: Mach 0.8 – 0.85
*Range: > 300 km
*Cruising altitude: 8 m []
*Propulsion: one turbojet engine and one solid rocket booster


A developed version based on HY-4, known as the XW-41, has been developed. This latest version of the C-201 missile family is said to have a 300 km range with additional GPS/GLONASS guidance. However, due to the availability of more advanced anti-ship missile with similar range, such as the C-602, the future of XW-41, like others in the Silkworm missile family, is uncertain despite its successful trials. Although still a member of Silkworm missile, the developer considers the missile was different enough to be a listed as a separate category of its own due to the amount of new technologies adopted.

YJ-63 (C-603)

XW-41 and its predecessor HY-4 lost their intended market when the wars in middle east ended, so XW-41 was converted to the first indigenously developed air-to-surface precision strike missile. The developmental work begun in the mid-1990s when Sea Eagle Mechanical-Electrical Research Academy (海鹰机电技术研究院) received support of Chinese military and the project was completed in 2002. The resulting new missile was named as YJ-63, also known as C-603. In comparison to XW-41, the original radar guidance was changed to TV guidance. The original inverted Y-configuration of tail control surfaces was changed to X-configuration. Like its predecessor, XW-41, turbojet engine was adopted instead of liquid fuel rocket engine used on HY-2.


Newest version of YJ-63 series that entered service in 2004 - 2005. This land attack version is almost identical to C-603 in appearance, except it has a solid nose instead of a window for TV guidance optronics. The solid nose indicates that the guidance of this air-to-surface missile adopts other means of guidance such as radar, but the exact type remain unknown.


Upgraded version of C-601 and other earlier models of the air-to-surface missiles of Silkworm family. Not all upgrades are necessarily the same due to difference between various versions, but electronics for all versions are upgraded to the latest standard.




External links

* [ Federation of American Scientists page on HY-1]
* [ HY-2]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Silkworm (disambiguation) — The Silkworm ( Bombyx mori ) is the larva or caterpillar of a moth that is very important economically as the producer of silk.Other meaningsSilkworm may also refer to:* Silkworm missile, a Chinese built anti ship cruise missile * Silkworm (band) …   Wikipedia

  • Silkworm — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Silkworm signifie « ver à soie » en anglais. le terme peut également faire référence à : SilkWorm, un jeu vidéo ; Silkworm, un groupe… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • missile — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. projectile, trajectile; guided missile. See arms. II (Roget s IV) n. Syn. cartridge, projectile, ammunition, rocket, guided missile; see also bullet , shot 2 , weapon 1 . Types of missiles include:… …   English dictionary for students

  • Sea Dart missile — Infobox Weapon is missile=yes caption= Sea Dart missile name=Sea Dart type=surface to air, surface to surface origin=UK era=Cold War launch platform=ship target=aircraft or ship manufacturer=Hawker Siddeley (later British Aerospace) design date=… …   Wikipedia

  • Type 021 class missile boat — China first received a single unit of Soviet Osa I class missile boat in January 1965, and 4 more in 1966 through 1967 and the last 2 in 1968. Eventually the Jiangnan Building Factory built the Chinese version as Type 021 class missile boat at a… …   Wikipedia

  • Type 024 class missile boat — The Type 024 class missile boat is a Chinese built small missile boat armed with two anti ship missiles and there were two version developed, though most of them are placed in reserve, dozens remain in the active service. Those in active service… …   Wikipedia

  • Cruise missile — United States Tomahawk cruise missile A modern Tau …   Wikipedia

  • Список противокорабельных ракет — Этот список противокорабельных ракет. Содержание 1 ВМВ 2 Совместные разработки 3 Аргентина …   Википедия

  • List of anti-ship missiles — NOTOC This is a list of Anti ship missiles.World War II* Ruhrstahl/Kramer SD 1400 X (Fritz X) Germany * Henschel Hs 293 Germany * Henschel Hs 294 Germany * Blohm + Voss BV 246 ( Hagelkorn ) Germany (prototype) * Igo Japan * Ohka piloted suicide… …   Wikipedia

  • MV Sea Isle City — ex Umm al Maradem , [ Umm Casbah Becomes Ocean City As Kuwaiti Ships Await U.S. Flags Aly Mahmoud. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: June 24, 1987. pg. a.21] was a Kuwait Oil Company oil tanker that reflagged during Operation Earnest Will …   Wikipedia