China’s disturbing new nuclear buildup

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DF-26 missiles appear at a Beijing parade in this file photo

 

When it comes to China’s ongoing military buildup, most attention is paid to the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) conventional forces, that is, fighter jets, submarines, armored vehicles, precision-guided munitions, and the like. The nuclear side of this buildup is almost totally ignored – and yet what is happening here is equally disturbing.

For China, “going nuclear” was major achievement. Beijing detonated its first atomic (fission-type) bomb in 1964, followed by the test of a thermonuclear (fusion-type) device three years later. Given the relatively backward state of China’s defense science and technology base, these feats, along with the launching of China’s first satellite in 1970, were a source of considerable national pride.

Despite the success of its “two bombs and one satellite,” Beijing faced the problem of what to do with its new-founded nuclear capability. It could not hope to match the nuclear forces of the United States or the USSR in terms of quantity or quality. Nevertheless, there had to be a strong strategic rationale for possessing – and possibly using – nuclear weapons. Continue reading

China Tests New Long-Range Missile with Two Guided Warheads

Latest DF-41 flight test indicates deployment near

China conducted a flight test this month of its newest long-range missile that U.S. intelligence agencies say lofted two independently-targeted simulated nuclear warheads, according to defense officials.

The launch of the DF-41 road-mobile missile Aug. 6 was the fourth time the new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has been test-fired in three years, and indicates that the weapon capable of hitting U.S. cities with nuclear warheads is nearing deployment. Continue reading

China stages live military drills code named ‘Joint Action-2015’ that involve over 140,000 troops

China’s military has begun a series of live-fire drills involving more than 140,000 troops that aim to improve joint operational command.

Continue reading

China: We Need Long-Range Strategic Bombers

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Chinese defense officials say Beijing needs to develop a long-range strategic bomber capable of striking enemies farther away from its coast in the event of a conflict.

The Chinese government has ramped up defense spending in recent years, particularly on its navy, which has commissioned its first aircraft carrier and is adding to its submarine and surface fleets.

But according to the latest issue of Kanwa Defence Review, a Canada-based defense and weapons technology publication, a meeting of Chinese military officials recently deemed the country’s air force to be a “strategic force” – a title previously reserved for the Second Artillery Corps, the country’s de facto strategic missile force. Continue reading

PLA switching to an offensive footing, says Russian expert

The release of China’s ninth defense white paper on May 26 indicates that the People’s Liberation Army has changed its traditional strategy of coastal defense. By acquiring more advanced weapons systems, the development of PLA Navy in the future will be focused on its offensive capability. Under this strategy, the mission of China’s strategic missile division known as the Second Artillery Corps has become more important, Sivkov said. Continue reading

China to Extend Military Reach, Build Lighthouses in Disputed Waters

BEIJING (Reuters) – China outlined a strategy to boost its naval reach on Tuesday and held a groundbreaking ceremony for two lighthouses in disputed waters, developments likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing’s maritime ambitions.

In a policy document issued by the State Council, the Communist-ruled country’s cabinet, China vowed to increase its “open seas protection”, switching from air defense to both offense and defense, and criticized neighbors who take “provocative actions” on its reefs and islands.

China has been taking an increasingly assertive posture over recent years in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where it has engaged in extensive land reclamation in the Spratly archipelago. Continue reading

China tests its new DF-31B ICBM

China conducted the first launch test of its new DF-31B road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of targeting the North American continent, at the Wuzhai test facility in the central China, according to the Washington Free Beacon. Continue reading

PLA’s DF-15C missile can carry bunker buster: report

China’s DF-15C short-range ballistic missile, equipped with a deep-penetration warhead, would be able to damage or destroy underground command facilities in Taiwan and other security partners of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Weapon, a military magazine operated by China North Industries Group Corporation, a state-run company that manufactures military vehicles. Continue reading

Chinese Missile Tests Continue

China’s military carried out a fourth flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week, firing off a new road-mobile ICBM on Thursday, according to U.S. officials.

U.S. intelligence agencies monitored the flight test of the DF-31A missile from China’s Wuzhai Space and Missile Test Center to an impact range in western China.

It was the fourth time since late July that China flight-tested its growing arsenal of long-range mobile ballistic missiles.

Thursday’s DF-31A test came 10 days after the flight test at Wuzhai of a silo-based CSS-4 Mod 2 long-range missile, and several weeks after flight tests of a new road-mobile DF-41 ICBM, on July 24, and a submarine-launched JL-2 missile on Aug. 16.

China’s secretive military made no mention of any of the tests, although state-controlled Chinese media recently confirmed China is building the DF-41 ICBM.

U.S. intelligence officials believe the DF-41 will eventually be outfitted with between three and ten warheads. It would be the first time China’s strategic missiles were outfitted with multiple, independently-targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs.

China is currently in the middle of a major strategic nuclear forces buildup that includes four new ICBMs – the DF-41, JL-2, DF-31A, and another road-mobile missile called the DF-31 that is assessed to have less range than the DF-31A.

The DF-31A has been deployed since the mid-2000s and has an estimated range of 7,000 miles, enough to give China the capability of hitting Washington or European capitals in a nuclear strike.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on China’s military with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said China has deployed up to four DF-31A missile brigades.

“Assuming that a brigade counts up to 12 mobile launchers and 12 missiles, this may amount to 48 DF-31A missiles, or multiples of 48 if the [People’s Liberation Army] plans reloads for this ICBM,” Fisher said.

The DF-31A and its reload missile are likely stored in the 3,000 miles of tunnels used by the Second Artillery Corps, as China’s nuclear and conventional missile forces are called.

The tunnels, first disclosed several years ago by China and later publicized by a Georgetown University arms control study, are large-scale facilities used to store missiles and warheads, as well as to protect underground nuclear production facilities.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, also reported the same day of the DF-31A test that China’s strategic missile forces have fully transitioned from “troops in the mountains” to “troops on the wheel” during the past 10 years.

Full article: Chinese Missile Tests Continue (Washington Free Beacon)