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Published on Aug 28, 2014
Anti-ship missiles are guided missiles that are designed for use against ships and large boats. Most anti-ship missiles are of the sea skimming variety, and many use a combination of inertial guidance and radar homing. A good number of other anti-ship missiles use infrared homing to follow the heat that is emitted by a ship; it is also possible for anti-ship missiles to be guided by radio command all the way.
The first anti-ship missiles, which were developed and built by Nazi Germany, used radio command guidance, these saw some success in the Mediterranean Theater in 1943 - 44, sinking or heavily damaging at least 31 ships with the Henschel Hs 293 and more than seven with the Fritz X, such as the Italian battleship Roma or the cruiser USS Savannah. A variant of the HS 293 had a TV transmitter on board. The bomber carrying it could then fly outside the range of naval AA guns and use TV guidance to lead the missile to its target by radio control.
Many anti-ship missiles can be launched from a variety of weapons systems including surface warships (they can then be referred to as ship-to-ship missiles), submarines, bombers, fighter planes, patrol planes, helicopters, shore batteries, land vehicles, and conceivably, even by infantrymen firing shoulder-launched missiles.
A typical acronym for the phrase "anti-ship missile" is ASM, but AShM can also be used to avoid confusion with air-to-surface missiles, anti-submarine missiles, and anti-satellite missiles. The Dong-Feng 21 (DF-21; NATO reporting name CSS-5 - Dong-Feng (Chinese: 东风; literally "East Wind") is a two-stage, solid-propellant, single-warhead medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) in the Dong Feng series developed by China Changfeng Mechanics and Electronics Technology Academy. Development started in the late 1960s and was completed around 1985-86, but it was not deployed until 1991. It was developed from the submarine-launched JL-1 missile, and is China's first solid-fuel land-based missile. The U.S. Department of Defense in 2008 estimated that China had 60-80 missiles and 60 launchers.
Originally developed as a strategic weapon, the DF-21's later variants were designed for both nuclear and conventional missions. As well as a nuclear warhead of around 300 kt, it is thought that high explosive, submunition and chemical warheads are available. The latest DF-21D was said to be the world's first anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). The DF-21 has also been developed into a space-capable anti-satellite/anti-missile weapon carrier.
Though the launcher itself is road mobile, an actual launch requires support vehicles and a specially prepared launch platform to prevent backblast damage due to the hard launch. DF-21 (CSS-5 Mod-1)
The basic variant DF 21 has a range of 1,770+ km, and a payload of 600 kg. The missile can carry a single 500 kt nuclear warhead, with an estimated CEP of 300~400 m. This version did not enter operational service.
DF-21A (CSS-5 Mod-2)
The DF-21A was operational by 1996 and has improved accuracy with an estimated circular error probable (CEP) of 100~300m, with both GPS and a radar-based terminal guidance system in a redesigned nose. This version is reported to have a similar range of 1,770+ km.
DF-21C (CSS-5 Mod-3)
Revealed in 2006, DF-21C is believed to be a mod of DF-21. Its actual designation is unknown; it may be a version of the DF-25 missile. Its maximum range is believed to be about 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi). The new GPS-based guidance system has reduced the missile's CEP to 30~40m, enabling it for precision-strike missions.
China has reportedly developed and tested the world's first anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) called DF-21D, with a maximum range exceeding 1,450 kilometres (900 mi), according to the U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center. The Intelligence Center did not believe it was deployed in 2009. The guidance system is thought to be still in an evolutionary process as more UAV and satellites are added. The DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile itself is assumed to have entered active service by 2009.
The US Department of Defense has stated that China has developed and reached initial operating capability  of a conventionally armed high hypersonic land-based anti-ship ballistic missile based on the DF-21. This would be the world's first ASBM and the world's first weapons system capable of targeting a moving aircraft carrier strike group from long-range, land-based mobile launchers.  These would combine maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRVs) with some kind of terminal guidance system. Such a missile may have been tested in 2005-6, and the launch of the Jianbing-5/YaoGan-1 and Jianbing-6/YaoGan-2 satellites would give th Chinese targeting information from SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and visual imaging respectively.