The China Challenge: The weapons the PLA didn’t show



A Pentagon official said the carefully choreographed military parade through Beijing’s Tiananmen was notable for the weapons that were not shown. They include China’s growing cadre of cyber warfare forces; its ground launched anti-satellite missiles and its new ultra-high-speed maneuvering hypersonic glide vehicle, known as the DF-ZF.

All three programs remain tightly guarded secrets for the Chinese government and details about them are unlikely to be made public any time soon.

Cyber warfare

The 3PLA is in charge of the Shanghai-based Unit 61398 that was targeted by the Justice Department’s 2014 indictment of five PLA hackers charged with cyber attacks on US companies.

“Groups operating from PRC territory are believed to be waging a coordinated cyber espionage campaign targeting US government, industrial, and think tank computer networks,” Mark Stokes, a former Pentagon official, stated in a report on PLA hacking.

Equally significant in terms of strategic military capabilities that were not showcased last week are China’s two anti-satellite missiles, known within the Pentagon as the low-earth orbit DN-1 and the high-orbit DN-2.

How significant a threat is the satellite killer? A few as a dozen anti-satellite missile attacks against critical space satellites would cripple the US military’s ability to conduct joint operations.

“We are quickly approaching the point where every satellite in every orbit can be threatened,” Air Force Lt. Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space told the US Congress in March.

Hypersonic nuke weapon

The glide vehicle, launched atop a missile, travels along the edge of space at Mach 10, or nearly 8,000 miles an hour. Yet the vehicle is agile enough to overcome the effects of high-speed travel to maneuver – both to avoid missile defenses and for zeroing in on targets.

The DF-ZF can also be armed with a conventional warhead, making it China’s third missile outfitted with precision guidance that is accurate enough to attack ships at sea.

Full article: The China Challenge: The weapons the PLA didn’t show (Asia Times)

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