CX-1, How Good Is Chinese equivalent of Brahmos

CX-1 during Zhuhai AirShow-2014

The reason why the Chinese are called ‘copycats’ is simple, they copy a lot, I mean a LOT. Be it the latest model of Iphone to the most sophisticated military tech. They seem to have a way with these things as; sometimes they could give the originals a run for their money.

In this article we will discuss about such a ‘Possible’ copying attempt, on our one and only ‘Brahmos’.

During the Zhuhai Airshow 2014, the Chinese presented to the world a new missile to the AShM (Anti Ship Missile) category. It turned heads of global attendees of the show, not because it was a new Chinese AShM, but due to its uncanny resemblance with the Indo-Russia JV-Brahmos.

After the public noticed its resemblance to the Brahmos, Indian authorities were bombarded by a farrago of questions. Is the CX-1 a reverse engineered Brahmos? Brahmos data leaked? And so on.

Finally, Brahmos Aerospace and Sivathanu Pillai, Brahmos Project CEO and MD, cleared the air by quoting that Brahmos and CX-1 are completely different missile systems which are at different levels of missile technology. The Chinese sure needs refinement of their missile tech and are nowhere near perfecting a complex technology like Brahmos.

So let us see what CX-1 has in store to lock horns with Brahmos.


A Screen grab of CX-1’s ship based launch, CCTV
  • Manufacturer : China Aerospace Science Industrial Corporation
  • Class  :     Supersonic Anti Ship Missile
  • Length :  7 – 8m
  • Diameter : 0.6 – 0.7m
  • Propulsion :  Ramjet (Two stage booster config.)
  • Max Speed :    Mach 2.8 – 3
  • Warhead :   260kg (570lb), Semi-Armour piercing
  • Operational Range  :  <280km (170mile)
  • Cruising Altitude : 17,000m (56,000ft)
  • Guidance System  : Inertial Guidance Unit, Active Radar Seeking
  • Launch Platform  : Naval vessels(CX-1A) , Transporter Erected Launcher(CX-1B)

It is pretty evident from these specifications that CX-1 sports nearly same specifications as that of Brahmos. However there are some key differences that are to be noted.

  1. Launch Platforms: Brahmos is currently the only supersonic cruise missile in the world that can be launched from all 4 platforms (Surface, Sea, Air and Submarine). However, CX-1 has only 2 launch configurations.
  2. Guidance: CX-1 is guided by a Inertial Nav unit for mid-course and a radar seeker for Terminal guidance. Brahmos on the other hand has mid-course guidance by Inertial Nav System for mid-course and Active Radar seeker/GPS/GLONASS/NAVIC-GAGAN using G3O module, giving pin-point accuracy.
  3. Flight altitude: CX-1 definitely tops Brahmos in maximum height attained at 17km against 14km. This gives it more kinetic energy and could also evade enemy detection.
  4. Sea-skimming: This specific feature makes Brahmos one of the deadliest missiles ever in modern warfare history. CX-1 could drop down to a maximum of 20m above sea level during its terminal phase. On the other hand, Brahmos could go down to a meagre 3m above sea-level.
  5. Precision: It is widely known in defence circles that Brahmos is a precision kill missile. The Chinese CX-1 gets a Circular Error Probability(CEP) of 20m meaning that if you draw a 20 m radius circle and fire the missile, half of the fired missile will impact inside the circle. On the other hand, Brahmos has an insanely low, 1m CEP. It is due to the indigenously manufactured G3OM and a technologically advanced INS.

The primary reason we did this comparison is due to its uncanny resemblance to Brahmos. Many even suggested that the Chinese could have gotten their hands on Brahmos through Russia and may have reverse-engineered it.

Defence analyts and notable personalties, Dr. Sivathanu Pillai being one of them has quoted that both systems are infact different. Indian military experts have cross checked the design and has found differences in nose and engine sections.

CX-1 sports a more tapering nose cone than Brahmos. Pic credits to Owners

From the above points, it is clear that the Chinese CX-1 is not a worthy opponent for the mighty Brahmos. But, one may think why China created something that was not a breakthrough in their missile R&D when trying to compete with Brahmos. Funny thing, they actually succeeded in countering us. Not by being the most advanced AShM, but being the most economical AShM.

In fact they never wanted CX-1 for their use. It was developed with an intention for export. It explains the reason why the range has been cut short to just 280km, since MTCR do not allows export of missiles of range>300km for non-member states. Chinese have also removed the Beido guidance system from CX-1, which is a staple in other Chinese missiles. It could be a cheap substitute for countries who can’t afford Brahmos (like Pakistan). News comes that several nations including Iran, some African nations and of course Pakistan have shown interest in the system.

Naval version Brahmos static display with launch canister, Credits to Owners

As for Brahmos, it’s still safe. It still remains to be the most deadly AShM EVER.