Monday, 28 January, 2008

Russia Looks to China for Partnership

After many years of lukewarm relations, Russia and China are finally strengthening their economic ties, especially in the energy sphere. About two weeks ago it was announced that Russia would double its electric power deliveries to China. On Monday, China's Premier Wen Jiabao said that Russia will considerably boost oil exports by rail to its neighbor

In 2005, Russia will deliver 500 million kWt/hrs of electric energy to China, the deputy chairman of Russia's power grid monopoly Unified Energy System, Leonid Drachevsky, said. A relevant cooperation agreement was signed in Beijing by the head of the Federal Grid Company Andrei Rappoport and head of the State Grid Corporation of China. In 2004, Russia delivered to China 300 million kWt/hrs, while in 2006 this figure is set to grow to 800 million kWt/hrs. The UES official also said that the Russian power monopoly may attract Chinese investments into the development and renovation of the country's power assets. "I see no reason why Chinese capital cannot take part in the Russian energy system," Drachevsky said.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, the Chinese Prime Minister said that oil exports by rail from Russia, the world's second largest oil exporter to China, the world's second largest oil consumer, would rise to 10 million tons in 2005 and 15 million tons in 2006. Over the last year, China's total crude imports from Russia soared by 105% to 10.77 million tons. The oil export drive to China will be led by the state-owned Rosneft Oil Company which will supply 4 million tons this year and 8.9 million tons annually for the next five years. Another 4 million tons will come from oil major Lukoil.

"We have reached important consensus on energy cooperation," Wen Jiabao said. "Energy cooperation between China and Russia is of equal and mutual benefit". The two countries also would strengthen cooperation in oil and natural gas exploration and development, he said. Wen said he would further discuss energy cooperation with his Russian counterpart in the second half of this year. "This is the best period in the history of Russian-Chinese relations," the Chinese Premier stressed.

Russia and China have a lot to offer each other as long as both sides have a clear understanding of what one wants from the other. China has strategic needs in the sphere of energy consumption while Russia has the means to satisfy China's demand for oil and electricity. China also needs markets for the goods that it's rapidly growing economy produces. It wasn't for anything that Wen Jiabao said that by 2010 the volume of bilateral trade between China and Russia should reach $60-80 billion, up from the current $20 billion. And what is it that China has that may be interesting and useful to Russia? China can offer Russia a strategic political partnership - the idea of which scares the U.S. and European politicians. But political partnership is something that one has to be very careful about. China is a very pragmatic partner ready to change its position at any moment as the situation demands. Therefore, while a "Russia-China" political block would be a powerful new player on the international scene, Russia and its authorities should concentrate for now on the economic relations. What China has is the spare funds to invest in the Russian economy and the willingness to do this. What the Russian authorities need to do is to work out the conditions for investment that would satisfy both sides. China needs to feel that it's investing money wisely and will be able to reap the fruits of its investment. Russia needs to feel that it's not selling control over any of its precious natural resources to some "foreigners". The experience of other countries with a wealth of natural resources shows that such an investment scheme which satisfies both sides is possible. Now it is up to the Russian authorities to do this quickly enough before China changes its mind and finds other places for investment.

Trio:Anti American

In the past few years, the Trio met to the sounds of bombing in Iraq as a united group that condemned the war and worried over America's disdain for international law. In this sense, the addition of Spain looks logical. The coming to power of a new Social-Democratic government radically changed Madrid's attitude to the Iraq war, promoted the pullout of Spanish troops, and paved Mr. Zapatero's way to the European Trio.

Some people think the informal club is anti-American, but they would be better advised to note the three leaders' desire to reconstruct the global balance that has been disrupted by the egoistic broad use of military might by the United States. Old Europe is alarmed by George Bush's messianic doctrine and would like to join forces with Russia to search for a political counterbalance to the U.S. global ambitions.

The background for the four-party summit in Paris will differ from the situation in which previous three-party meetings were held. The four leaders' criticism of the Iraq war (and U.S. conduct in the world at large) has been confirmed by the events of the past months. Despite the publicized success of the Iraqi election, the U.S. is bogged down there and the withdrawal of its 150,000 troops has been put off for an indefinite time. None of the four European leaders, including Vladimir Putin, can imagine Bush spending his second term on one more military adventure. It is one thing to threaten Syria and Iran, but a completely different to send troops there.

The declining status of a "hyperpower," as French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine once described America, seems to be changing the partnership of Europe and the U.S., turning it from Atlantic (read: universal) into selective, where the interests of the sides clash increasingly often. Disregarding Washington's protests, the EU plans to lift the arms embargo imposed on China after Tienanmen Square. The U.S. is also outraged by European plans to create a system of European security outside NATO, the ratification by many European countries (including Russia) of the Kyoto protocol, and the resistance of many European capitals to Washington's attempt to undermine the authority of the International Criminal Court.

As a result, the idea of Paris, Berlin and Moscow to create a constructive counterbalance to the largely arrogant foreign policy of the U.S. that rests on military might, an idea which Madrid seems to have accepted, is gradually becoming reality.

However, counterbalance does not mean anti-Americanism. Just as democracy works better when there is a healthy opposition, so the U.S. may find positive elements for harmonizing its foreign policy in the alternative centers of world power - if the latter take a clearer form.

The agenda of the four-party working meeting in Paris is broad and will largely depend on improvisation. The possible issues include the role of the UN in the modern world, Iraq and the Middle East, and the nuclear problems of Iran and North Korea.

Putin plans to raise the issue of developing Russia's relations with the EU and to hold bilateral talks with Chirac after the summit.

Moreover, the Italian premier will inevitably influence the four leaders' discussion of Iraq. Silvio Berlusconi's announcement that the 3,000-strong Italian group would start to withdraw from Iraq in September confirms the thoughts of a growing number of Anglo-American coalition members: The domestic price of loyalty to the U.S. in Iraq is becoming intolerably high. Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine and several other countries have refused to pay any more. They have announced they will pull their troops out or have already started the withdrawal process.

Berlusconi's decision, made with due regard for the 2006 parliamentary election, will be a serious blow to Bush's attempt to divide responsibility for the Iraqi campaign. It also confirms the growing feeling of independence, if not opposition to Washington, in Greater Europe.

America knows what this can lead to. And the four leaders in Paris will most probably note with satisfaction Washington's recent U-turn on Iran's nuclear program. For months Moscow, Paris and Berlin have sought to secure a diplomatic solution to the problem, whereas the U.S. continued to threaten Iran with a repetition of Iraq. Washington changed tactics right after Bush's recent European tour. Displaying unexpected generosity, it has offered Iran economic benefits in return for abandoning its alleged nuclear weapons program. One of the benefits is a real gift - it is a pledge not to protest against Iran's accession to the WTO, which the U.S. has been preventing for a decade.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Washington wants to support the Europeans and not to benefit the Iranians. In reality, it was the common stand of the Europeans, including Russia, that forced Washington to drop the stick and take up the carrot in relations with Iran. One would like to view this as a good sign. Bush's foreign policy team, led by his new secretary of state, is becoming aware of the need to act jointly with Greater Europe (including Russia) in critical situations. These rules of conduct suit the new world that has developed after the Iraq war, which was not very successful for America.

Putin is also in Paris to discuss Russia's relations with the EU, which are mostly impressive. The parties say they are to develop the so-called four common spaces in the economy, domestic and external security, science and culture. But the events in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova spotlighted the European trend of supporting political forces in the former Soviet republics depending on the distance they put between themselves and Russia. In reality, the bureaucrats in Brussels are facing Tbilisi, Kiev and Chisinau with a false choice between the West (meaning the EU and NATO) and Russia.

Vladimir Putin cannot accept this attitude, and it seems that this does not suit France, Germany and other Old European countries either. They reject Russophobic sentiments brought to the enlarged EU by such new members as Poland and the Baltic countries. The summit in Paris will show if Old Europe is ready to stop this unproductive anti-Russian trend. In this year of the 60th anniversary of victory over Nazism, the attempts by Brussels bureaucrats and radical newcomers to the EU to create new division lines in Europe look like an archaism and sacrilege.

Saturday, 26 January, 2008


urya 1 and 2 : India's ICBM's
The Surya-1 is an intercontinental-range, surface-based, solid and liquid propellant ballistic missile under development. It is based upon a space launch vehicle . This project would result in India’s first intercontinental-range ballistic missile. The Surya-1 and -2 will be classified as a strategic weapon. It will likely be used to extend the Indian nuclear deterrent force to targets deeper within China. India can only hit a limited number of targets within China, even upon the completion of the Agni-3 missile. The development of a true ICBM would make almost any strategic target within China vulnerable and decrease India’s relative weakness. This would develop a credible deterrent for India against any Chinese aggression. The Surya-1 will have an expected range of some 8,000 km (4971 miles). It reportedly has a length of 40 m and a launch weight of 80,000 kg. As the missile has yet to be developed, the payload and warhead are as yet unknown. It is believed to be a three-stage design, with the first two stages using solid propellant and the third-stage using liquid. The Surya-2 is a longer-ranged variant of the Surya-1. It has a reported range of 12,000 km (7456 miles). This is likely accomplished by decreasing the payload.


eries of questions on this nightmare scenario: 1. Can the U.S. invade China in the first place? 2. Are America's technological and firepower advantages helpful in the long run against 1 billion people? 3. How effective would U.S. airpower be? 4. Is it safe to say every Chinese citizen would fight? 5. Can the U.S. hold up against a modern military supported by guerrilla warfare? 6. Any other thoughts? I think China is one enemy the U.S. will need a miracle to defeat. I see it sort of as a whole bunch of people lining up against the Chinese coast to prevent an amphbious assault. An airborne assault is pretty dumb as well. The only advantage America will have is our airpower and sea-launched missiles, but that won't last forever. In the end, I think it's a lose-lose situation for the U.S. Also, does anyone know of any tactics or warplans the U.S. has in store regarding China?

Wednesday, 16 January, 2008

PLAAF's Doctrine and Strategy

The PLAAF's evolution of operational capabilities is tied to the evolution of the PLA.­s overall doctrine and strategy. Chinaƒ­s communist leaders have long seen themselves as encircled by real or potentially hostile forces threatening the regime's security. They have also long sought to define a doctrine and strategy to deal with this situation. The PLA's doctrine has evolved from Mao Zedong's basic doctrine of people's war, which still retains a measure of influence in Chinese thinking, at least in broad conceptual terms. In 1985, the CMC radically revised China's doctrine and strategic defense policy by directing the armed forces to change from preparation for an "early, major, and nuclear war" to preparing for "local limited wars around China's borders, including its maritime territories and claims." Following the Gulf War, this doctrine was amended to "fight local wars under modern, high-technology conditions." Thus, people's war has evolved as a blend of defense and offense, and has been modified to incorporate various strategies, including active defense and the rapid-reaction strategy.

In its essence, the people's war doctrine reflects a strategy of weakness. Since the PLA was founded in 1927, it has had to develop strategies for defeating adversaries which had superior weapons and equipment. That this dilemma should continue into the 21st century is no doubt frustrating to members of the current military hierarchy.

While people's war places special emphasis on defensive strategy and on the factor of manpower over weapons, the PLA has never ignored the need for an offensive strategy. The PLA's involvement in the Korean and Vietnam wars, plus its attacks against India in 1962 and Vietnam in 1979 - which were followed by quick, unilateral withdrawals - were all described as defensive operations. At the same time, Mao long recognized the value of utilizing superior force to overwhelm China's adversaries. Within the people's war doctrine, the basic military strategy Mao formulated, known as active defense, was one of a protracted, defensive war.

In a recent paper, Dr. Paul Godwin states that "the PLA has been shifting over the past twenty years from continental defense in depth to peripheral defense and maritime force projection, and from a ground-force dominated approach to war, to a multi-service joint operations doctrine. In conceptualizing the battlefield, the PLA has shifted from a two dimensional concept, where the ground war was the central focus, to a multidimensional battlespace, where space and cyberspace play roles as important as the traditional air-land-sea dimensions. The PLA has faced the major difficulty of the absence of any period of stability in which it could complete the organizational, training, and logistics changes required to implement a revised strategy and operational doctrine."

Although PLAAF writings mention the broader PLA doctrine and strategic concepts of people's war, people's war under modern conditions, and people's war under modern, high-tech conditions, they tend to focus more on campaign strategy, campaign tactics, and tactical training.

As an arm of the PLA, the PLAAF has traditionally conducted its combat operations as a series of subordinate campaigns within the PLA's overall campaign. The PLAAF describes a campaign as "using from one to many aviation, air defense, or airborne units to carry out a series of combined battles according to a general battle plan to achieve a specified strategic or campaign objective in a specified time." During March 1997, Commander Liu stated the PLAAF must improve its capabilities in actual combat by highlighting campaign and tactical training. He emphasized that campaign training involves air deterrence, air interdiction, air strikes, and participation in joint exercises.

Although the PLA has always had an active defense strategy, one of the PLAAF's most significant developments in the past couple of years has been the public emphasis by Chinese leaders, including CMC Chairman Jiang Zemin, on the PLAAF's capability to fight offensive battles. What this means is that the PLAAF is beginning to acquire the types of weapon systems, such as the Su-27 and Il-76, that will allow the PLAAF to change its doctrine appropriately and move away from its purely defensive missions.PLAAF Rapid-Reaction Force

The PLAAF's Airborne Troops

One of the PLAAF's most important changes in campaign strategy took place in 1992, when the Air Force's 15th Airborne Army began changing into a rapid-reaction force (RRF). Although PLAAF airpower discussions in the late 1980s included ideas about fist units, these discussions centered on the airborne forces and not the aviation units. While the airborne forces were clearly included in plans for the RRF, it appears that the airborne forces did not actually form any operational RRFs until around 1992.

images from PLA Daily

According to an October 1993 Jane's Defence Weekly report, China was in the process of changing the 15th Airborne Army's three brigades into divisions, in order to boost their rapid-response power. The 43rd Brigade, based in Kaifeng, was the first brigade to undergo expansion to a division. The other two brigades, the 44th at Yingshan and 45th at Huangpi, followed suit shortly thereafter. Military planners had apparently decided that brigade-size forces were too small for their assigned combat missions. Chinese brigades normally have about 3,000 to 4,000 troops, and ground force divisions have about 15,000 troops. The airborne units are composed of eight types of troops: scouts, infantry, artillerymen, signalmen, engineers, antichemical warfare corps, and automobile corps.

The 1999 Department of Defense's (DoD) assessment of the PLA describes the 15th Airborne Army as consisting of three airborne divisions, each with about 10,000 troops. The 15th Airborne Army is China's primary quick reaction force and has been designated as a strategic rapid reaction unit, but the airborne units remain handicapped by insufficient airlift. Acquisition of additional aircraft and modern equipment, together with the increased emphasis on utilizing airborne forces during training exercises, would marginally improve the airborne army's combat capabilities.

According to Commander Liu, however, since the PLAAF began receiving several Russian Il-76 transports in 1992, the airborne troops now have all-terrain, all-weather, omni-directional combat capabilities. (21) In order to adapt to various adverse operational conditions, the airborne units have conducted exercises in the snowfields of the Greater Khingan (Da Xingan) Mountains, the hot jungles on the Shiwan Mountains in Guangxi, and the Kunlun Plateau, located 4,600 meters above sea level where the air is thin.

Airborne troop training over the past few years appears to have focused primarily in and around Tibet. At the same time, however, some airborne training has also concentrated on a Taiwan scenario. By reporting this type of activity, the government is apparently trying to send a signal to inhabitants of Tibet, Taiwan, and Xinjiang that the airborne forces are preparing for internal contingencies, should the need arise. Reporting of these types of exercises also points out some of the airborne forces' limitations. For example, during the 1996 military exercise opposite Taiwan, the PLAAF inserted a small contingent of airborne troops onto Haitan island, but this portion of the exercise was scaled down due to inclement weather, again calling the reliability of Liu's statement into question.

Aviation Rapid Reaction Force Units

Serious discussions about establishing aviation RRF units did not occur until around the early 1990s, which coincided with China's purchase of the first Russian Su-27s and Il-76s. According to interviews with foreign air force officers in Asia, the PLAAF's rapid-reaction aviation units are currently composed of J-7, J-8, and Su-27 fighters and Il-76 transports. Although the bulk of the PLAAF consists of J-6 fighters, the RRF does not include any of these aircraft.

The PLA's rapid-reaction strategy is based on the premise that China will only be engaged in local wars for the foreseeable future, and that the PLA must strike quickly to end the war and meet Beijing's political objectives. Furthermore, cost is a big factor, since equipment is becoming more expensive and the cost of maintaining older weapon systems is rising.

PLAAF Missions and Organizational Structure (1/2)

Over the past fifty years, the PLAAF has endeavored to undertake an exceptionally broad range of operational missions. The first mission the CMC assigned to the PLAAF in 1949 was the air defense of Beijing and Shanghai against Nationalist air raids. This mission expanded to include northeast China during the Korean War and to the southeast provinces during the 1958 Taiwan Strait crisis. Although Western writings normally refer to air defense as including aircraft, AAA, and SAMs, the PLAAF makes a clear distinction between its aviation troops (aircraft) and air defense (AAA/SAM) troops.

Today, the PLAAF still describes its primary mission as defending China's territorial airspace. However, this mission can best be described as defending China's major cities and industrial areas, which can clearly be seen by looking at the location of the PLAAF's airfields, combat aircraft, SAMs, and AAA. As the PLAAF acquires aircraft and SAMs with longer ranges, these envelopes will gradually expand. Although the PLAAF states that its secondary mission is supporting ground and naval forces, it has never successfully carried out direct support to the ground troops and officially states that it can only support them indirectly. The PLAAF still describes a joint exercise as having aircraft airborne at the same time that its own SAM and AAA units or that some ground force units are active in a different area. It is also questionable just how much the PLAAF can actually support the ground and naval forces in the future. The PLAAF lacks the proper aircraft and joint experience to accomplish close air support or interdiction and has only recently made nascent inroads into the over water training necessary for naval air support. Support for the naval forces is left up primarily to the Naval air force.

The PLAAF also supports other maritime activities. For example, according to a May 1998 Xinhua report from Guangzhou, the PLAAF was to conduct inspection flights in the coastal waters off Guangdong Province, as well as the Zhujiang River delta area, in order to enforce the May to September fishing ban. Guangdong Province and the South China Sea Branch of the National Bureau of Oceanography had requested the inspections in order to counter serious problems in excessive, unpaid, and disorderly utilization of maritime resources.

In the absence of broader PLAAF mission statements, one must look at the PLAAF's organizational structure, operational branch functions, force locations, weapon systems, and planned weapons acquisitions, in order to analyze the PLAAF's full range of missions.

Administratively, the PLAAF's chain-of-command is organized into four levels: headquarters air force; seven military region air force (MRAF) headquarters; air corps and command posts; and operational units. Headquarters Air Force is equivalent to the US Air Force's Air Staff and is organized administratively into four first level or major departments - headquarters, political, logistics, and equipment - and their subordinate elements (second level departments, bureaus, divisions, offices, and sections). The PLA's military region (MR) headquarters is responsible for combined operations, and the MRAF commander, who is also an MR deputy commander, is responsible for flight operations within the MR. The seven military regions are Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Jinan, and Chengdu. Each echelon below Headquarters Air Force from the MRAF headquarters to the lowest level in the chain-of-command basically mirrors this administrative structure.

In order to perform its operational missions, the PLAAF is organized into branches - aviation, AAA, SAM, radar, and communications. The PLA's airborne troops belong to the Air Force, and sometimes, but not always, are noted as the PLAAF's sixth branch. The PLAAF also has schools, logistics units, repair facilities, research institutes, hospitals, and sanitoriums as part of its organizational structure. The Air Force's Logistics Department has its own water transport craft and boat troops to ship fuel to PLAAF units along the Yangzi River and coast. The PLAAF's political structure ensures Party control at all levels. By looking at modernization of the PLAAF's six branches, it is possible to understand more fully the scope of the Air Force's operations and capabilities.

The PLAAF's Aviation Branch

The PLAAF was formed around its aviation troops (hangkongbing), which remain the Air Force's main arm. The aviation troops are organized into fighters, ground attack aircraft, bombers, transports, and reconnaissance aircraft. These aircraft are organized into air divisions, regiments, groups, squadrons, and associated maintenance, logistics, and support units. The support units are organized into regiments, battalions, and companies. There are also independent air regiments and groups, which conduct specialized missions, such as operational test and evaluation of equipment, reconnaissance and surveying, troop transport, and reforestation. For the most part, these special mission aircraft include reconnaissance fighters and Il-14 and Yun-5 transports. Air divisions can be directly subordinate to Headquarters Air Force, an MRAF headquarters, an air corps, or a command post.

A typical air division headquarters consists of the command staff and administrative organization. These organizations are responsible for combat, training, political training, supply, and maintenance support for the division. Each division and regiment has a Party committee and a standing committee, of which the political commissar serves as the secretary for both committees. The division's Party committee consists of the standing committee, which includes the division's command staff, plus the commanders and political commissars of each subordinate regiment.

Because the PLAAF has historically been synonymous with the aviation troops, the Headquarters Department's second level Operations Department has basically functioned as the Aviation Troop Department. The Operations Department also is responsible for the airborne troops. This is in contrast to the separate second level departments that have been established for the radar, communications, and AAA/SAM branches. This separation of aviation and air defense permeates the entire chain-of-command, keeping administrative firewalls between the aviators and the rest of the PLAAF. PLAAF Missions and Organizational Structure (2/2)

Origins of the Aviation Branch

When the PLAAF was established, its aviation troops were organized into several brigades with three to four regiments each. For example, the 4th Combined Brigade was established at Nanjing in June 1950 and became the PLAAF's first aviation troop unit. It consisted of 10th and 11th Pursuit Regiments, the 12th Bomber Regiment, and the 13th Attack Regiment. By the end of 1950, these brigades reduced the number of regiments to two, dropped the type of unit (Pursuit/Attack/ Bomber) from the name, and became air divisions.

Since 1951, the number for regiments per division has fluctuated between two and three, depending upon the number of aircraft available and the changing missions. Some flying academies have up to four regiments. By the end of May 1951, the PLAAF had seventeen air divisions, each with two regiments, including twelve pursuit divisions, two attack divisions, two bomber divisions, and one transport division. This expanded rapidly, so that by March 1953, a total of twenty-eight air divisions and fifty-six air regiments were formed. At the same time, each division began changing from two regiments back to three. By early 1954, the PLAAF had twenty-eight air divisions and seventy air regiments, with 3,000 aircraft.

From 1960-1965, more air divisions were created to guard the coast. From 1966-1976, aviation troop units were expanded to cover the rest of China. Although the PLAAF had fifty air divisions by the mid-1980s, the number was reduced to around forty-five by 1990 as older aircraft were gradually taken out of the inventory.

According to the 1999 DoD report, the PLAAF currently numbers over 400,000 personnel with approximately 4,500 combat aircraft organized in some thirty air divisions. The PLAAF also maintains about 150 transport aircraft in two air divisions. A PLAAF air division can have one or more air regiments per airfield, with each airfield assigned a field station for logistics support. Although a division can have more than one type of aircraft (i.e., J-7s and J-8s), each regiment typically has the same type of aircraft. The table of organization and equipment (TO&E) for a typical air regiment consists of from 25-32 aircraft, but may actually have more or less assigned. The regiment is the basic organization for training and operations. Each regiment has three flying groups and one aircraft maintenance group. Each flying group is further divided into three squadrons.

The division has about one and one-half to two pilots per aircraft. Although the pilots are assigned to squadrons, each with three to five pilots, the aircraft are assigned to the regiment as a whole, not just to the squadrons. Each pilot, however, normally only flies one to three airframes, so they become familiar with each aircraft's handling capabilities. The average pilot remains in the Air Force until he or she retires. The PLAAF established age limits for its pilots in the 1980s: fighter and ground-attack pilots, 43-45 years; bomber pilots, 48-50 years; transport pilots, 55 years; helicopter pilots, 47-50 years; and female pilots, 48 years. The average fighter and ground-attack pilot is 28 years old.

Flight Training (1/3)

To help build esprit de corps, the PLAAF began awarding four pilot ratings in 1986 - special, first, second, and third grade - which are awarded after the pilots complete their initial and upgrade training at an operational unit. The criteria includes time-on-station, flying hours, "flying in weather," and special missions. In addition, the PLAAF awards aircrew ratings to navigators, communications and gunnery personnel, and instructor pilots. According to a 1989 PLAAF report, of the 10,000 pilots in the entire PLAAF at that time, seven percent of the total and fifteen to twenty percent of the fighter pilots were special grade. There are differing reports about the educational background of today's PLAAF pilots. In April 1999, Commander Liu stated that all air division and regiment leaders are special-grade or first grade pilots, and one-half of the pilots in the flight units are college-educated. This is in contrast to an interview in 1989 with then-PLAAF Political Commissar Zhu Guang, who stated that all the pilots had a college education or above, and to a 1999 article by John Lewis and Xue Litai that states,

In 1997, the PLAAF finished drafting its training programs for high-tech wars, but in carrying them out, it has encountered a fundamental problem because only 20.7 percent of the air officers are college graduates. Quick fixes or short-term training classes cannot solve the lack of qualified technical personnel to operate high-tech air weapons in an environment that attracts the best to civilian occupations.

There are no ready explanations for this apparent drop in college educated officers, especially since all PLAAF officers must attend a PLAAF four-year academy, many of which now offer post graduate degrees as well.

Based upon an analysis of Chinese literature and interviews in China, it is evident that PLAAF pilots do not fly as many hours as their Western counterparts. According to interviews with PLAAF and foreign air force officials, the PLAAF's flying hours have not changed appreciably over the past fifteen years, but they have changed their training techniques. Since the end of the 1970s, bomber pilots have consistently flown an average of 80 hours per year; fighter pilots 100 to 110 hours; and A-5 ground attack pilots up to 150 hours. This compares to about 215 hours per year for US Air Force bomber, fighter, and attack crews. USAF pilots also conduct numerous hours training on advanced simulators.

Based on interviews in Asia, it appears that PLAAF pilots are flying the Su-27s between 60-100 hours per year, and supplementing this with flight time in J-7s. These interviews also indicate that every country considers the PLAAF's Su-27s as their primary concern, regardless of how many hours the pilots train. The acquisition of these aircraft has definitely had a significant psychological impact on China's neighbors.

Since 1996, PLAAF pilots have been noted flying in more sophisticated simulated air-to-air combat with newly-formed aggressor units, employing jamming, flying over the Taiwan Strait, conducting live missile firings over the East China Sea, and dropping parachute-retarded bombs at a bomb range. There are also Chinese writings that the PLAAF conducts post mission analysis of aerial combat using information from flight data recorders which contain information from the air data computer and possibly some fire control data. The Chinese are also seeking Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) pods similar to those used by Western forces. These pods send information to ground personnel so they can evaluate aerial engagements on a real-time basis.

Although the PLAAF may not fly as many hours as the USAF, the PLAAF believes that its training is improving and is adequate to conduct its missions. Some Air Force leaders firmly believe that their intelligence, mobility, and attack capabilities will be sufficient to allow them to react appropriately to any situation, including gaining air superiority, supporting the ground forces, and conducting counterattacks against targets inside the enemy's borders. Furthermore, interviews with foreign air force officials indicate that they believe Western reporting does not take into account how the PLAAF matches up against China's neighbors. For example, Commander Liu noted that aviation units during 1996 exceeded their annual training plan requirements by 1.8 percent. Highlights during that time included night flying, live bombing and missile firing, training over the ocean, low-altitude flights, and emergency mobility deployments to other airfields. This type of training accounted for forty-five percent of the planned annual training time. What the article failed to state was that most of this training took place in a single exercise opposite Taiwan, and that several portions of the exercise were curtailed due to inclement weather.

To round out the PLAAF's tactical training and help make up for the limited number of flying hours per year, the PLAAF has increased its use of flight simulators. The PLAAF now reportedly conducts more than ninety percent of its tactical and technological training on simulators. The PLAAF has developed a full-spectrum spherical screen simulator, three-dimensional flight simulator, and in-flight refueling plane simulator for pilots to train and develop special flight and air strike skills under simulated combat conditions. Simulation capabilities have evolved from electromechanical simulation to laser, electronic, and computer simulation; from technical simulation to tactical and campaign simulation; and from the simulation of a single armament or aircraft type to integrated simulation of the main battle arms combined with multiple aircraft types and various forms of weaponry. If these types of simulators have, in fact, become operational at all aviation units, then they will definitely help supplement pilot training, which is minimal at best. During the 1980s, the Air Force only had a few, non-standard simulators. Most of the pilots trained on an instrument board - a mock cockpit with a wooden panel containing all of the cockpit's instrument dials on it.

In January 1999, PLAAF Deputy Commander Wu Guangyu emphasized the PLAAF's increased readiness by stating,

China's Air Force has significantly improved its combat readiness. During 1998, pilots achieved a record of per capita flying time, the highest since 1985, in spite of heavy summer flooding and a program to restructure the Air Force. Pilots paid particular attention to improving basic flying techniques. The fact that sixty-six percent of air units conducted highly successful long?distance mobile maneuvers under harsh weather conditions indicated that China's Air Force has greatly enhanced its combat readiness.

Commander Liu also discussed training reforms by stating that several units have been selected to carry out a series of reforms on tactics. Those units have tried, demonstrated, and refined a series of advanced combat theories and propositions in live-fire training exercises. They have scored excellent initial results in mobile operations, air strike, air superiority, air control, night attacks, and defensive operations

PLA Air Force Operation and Modernization

The Central Military Commission has called for the urgent upgrading of the country's Air Force to neutralize growing threats from regional neighbors and other countries....Our country now faces a serious challenge....China needs to develop airborne early warning systems and foster research in the development of high-tech electronic combat systems....If threatened from the air, China must have the ability to carry its defense strike capability to targets outside its own airspace.
- Jiefangjun Bao, 7 April 1996 (1)
The Chinese Air Force plans to acquire state-of-the-art weapons systems by early next century, including early warning planes, electronic warfare warplanes, and surface-to-air missiles. The PLA Air Force is now able to fight both defensive and offensive battles under high-tech conditions.
- Liu Shunyao, PLA Air Force Commander, April 1997 (2)

Chinaƒ­s Air Force has significantly improved its combat readiness. During 1998, pilots achieved a record of per capita flying time, the highest since 1985, in spite of heavy summer flooding and a program to restructure the Air Force. Pilots paid particular attention to improving basic flying techniques. The fact that sixty-six percent of air units conducted highly successful long?distance mobile maneuvers under harsh weather conditions indicated that China's Air Force has greatly enhanced its combat readiness.
- Wu Guangyu, PLA Air Force Deputy Commander, January 1998 (3)

We should build an Air Force capable of both offensive and defensive operations with Chinese characteristics.
- Jiang Zemin, March 1999 (4)

China's Air Force, known as the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), is in a crucial transition period, as it changes from an obsolescent giant to a modern force prepared to fight local, limited warsunder high-tech conditions. The PLAAF is slowly moving from a defensive force dominated by 1950s vintage combat aircraft with short legs and limited all-weather intercept capabilities to an offensive-oriented force with extended range and greater lethality. While new aircraft like the J-10, J-11 (Su-27), and Su-30 are gradually introduced into the force, older aircraft like the J-7 and J-8 are being modified with better avionics and air-to-air missiles to bridge the gap. The new combat aircraft force of the 21st century will be controlled by airborne early warning aircraft, refueled by tankers, and supported by electronic countermeasure and intelligence collection aircraft. The PLAAF is forging ahead with advanced tactics and logistics techniques for its newer aircraft, while sustaining the operational capabilities of its older inventory. In addition to its combat aircraft, the PLAAF is improving its surface-to-air missile force and mobility for its elite airborne corps. In ten years, the PLAAF will be a much smaller force, but will have greater range and lethality than the PLAAF of the 1990s. (5)

PLAAF writings indicate that it has an impressive history defending China. The PLAAF established its credibility during the Korean War, the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, and the Vietnam War, but it has not conducted any large-scale air battles since then. The official PLAAF history states that it has shot down 1,474 and damaged 2,344 aircraft of all types. Analysis of these figures shows that PLAAF aircraft have shot down or damaged only about 200 aircraft during air-to-air combat, most of which occurred during the Korean War. The PLAAF's antiaircraft artillery (AAA) and surface-to-air missiles (SAM) shot down or damaged the remaining 3,600 aircraft. The PLAAF's SAM forces are particularly proud of shooting down five Nationalist Air Force U-2 reconnaissance planes between 1963 and 1967. (6) The last PLAAF combat took place in October 1987, when a SAM shot down a Vietnamese MiG-21 that had crossed the border.

The PLAAF readily admits that its equipment is backwards, but modernization is taking place across the board, including equipment, tactics, training, logistics, and maintenance. Unlike the 1980s, there are very few PLAAF leaders left who fought in the Korean War. Today's Air Force leaders have put forth an optimistic vision of the future. Unfortunately, the PLAAF does not provide many solid clues as to how it plans to reach that vision. One of the biggest problems foreigners have looking at the PLAAF is the lack of open source information. Even when information is available, it focuses on the vision, not on the process. Most Western writings on the PLAAF tend to focus on the acquisition of hardware, such as the Russian Su-27s, Su-30s, Il-76s, and S-300s. (7) These articles pay little attention to the "software" issues, including leadership, missions and organization, strategy and doctrine, personnel, support equipment, operations, training, logistics, maintenance, and C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence). (8)

This paper will address the PLAAF's operational capabilities and modernization. The first part will provide statements by the PLAAF's commander, Lieutenant General Liu Shunyao, describing the PLAAF's past, present, and future. The next part will look at the PLAAF's missions and organizational structure, including the aviation, air defense, and airborne forces. The third part will assess the air activity that has occurred over the Taiwan Strait in reaction to President Lee Teng-hui's 9 July 1999 statements about "state-to-state" relations between Taiwan and the mainland. The paper will also address China's neighbors' perceptions of the PLAAF. The final part will provide conclusions.
PLAAF Commander's Assessment (1/2)

Lieutenant General Liu Shunyao has had several interviews with Chinese reporters since he became PLAAF commander in December 1996. (9) The first of these interviews coincided with Taiwan's receipt of the first group of 150 F-16 fighters from the United States and 60 Mirage 2000-5s from France. The interviews also came after the PLAAF had already received several Russian Su-27 fighters, Il-76 transports, and S-300 SAMs. The PLAAF had also deployed its first indigenous B-6 airborne refueling aircraft for its J-8II fighters, and had ordered the first Il-76 airborne early warning platform from Russia and Israel.

During the interviews, Commander Liu stressed that the aviation troops formed the Air Force's backbone. The PLAAF culture has always focused on the role of aircraft as the core of the force, even though the air defense (SAM and AAA) forces have shot down more aircraft. He also emphasized that the PLAAF's 15th Airborne Army, which has also become more integrated into the PLA's joint operations, has established 'fist' units that are now more mobile and have longer range as a result of acquiring several Russian Il-76 transports. (10)

While discussing the PLAAF's current capabilities, Commander Liu has focused on the ability to fight defensive and offensive battles under high-tech conditions. The shift from strictly defensive to offensive capabilities derived from the PLAAF's post-Gulf War realization that precision guided missiles (PGMs) and long-range cruise missiles had changed the rules of warfare. This realization was one of the driving forces for the PLAAF to acquire modern weapon systems from Russia. As a result of modernizing its weapon systems, the Air Force has been able to changes its tactics, extend its combat range, and practice providing support for ground and naval operations.

Liu and other PLAAF officials continue to emphasize that three-quarters of its pilots are now able to fly in all-weather conditions, the percentage of category "A" combat regiments, an indicator of the Air Force's combat effectiveness, has reached 95.5 percent, and that the Air Force has a sixteen year flight safety record. (11) As for flying in all-weather conditions, there is some question as to exactly what types of flying the pilots conduct under visual flight regulations (VFR) and night flying conditions. Are these types of flights flown only on cloudless, moonlit nights, or during cloudy, pitch black conditions over long distances while engaged in air intercept training? Since the Chinese media rarely reports aircraft accidents, there is no way to verify the accuracy of the flight safety record, but this claim, also, is questionable. For example, there are credible reports that Cao Shuangming, the PLAAF commander from 1992-1994, was relieved of duty partly due to a series of aircraft accidents that took place under his command. Furthermore, since the PLAAF rarely trains using rapid aircraft turn around sorties and most engines can only be used from 100 to 300 hours before they are overhauled, the maintenance record would probably be reduced considerably during periods of sustained use, such as during a conflict.

Given the PLAAF's current limitations, Commander Liu and other Air Force leaders have expressed an optimistic vision of the future. As the Air Force upgrades the capabilities of its current inventory with foreign technology, begins producing the J-10 and J-11 (Su-27) aircraft, and acquires new fighters (Su-30) and airborne early warning aircraft and SAMs, the PLAAF will be able to extend its range, increase its firepower, and change its tactics through the use of improved electronic warfare, night training, and joint campaign training. The PLAAF will also focus its efforts on research and development, while importing some high-tech weapons.

PLAAF Commander's Assessment (2/2)

The debate in China about importing weapon systems versus domestically producing them continues. For example, a July 1999 report in Science and Technology Daily, complained that China's achievements in many areas over the past twenty years have attracted world attention, but the aviation industry has increasingly lagged behind. The aviation industry continues to have a sprawling organization with weak facilities and low standards, and the gap between it and the aviation industries of the developed western countries is widening. The article lamented that this is cause for anxiety, because without a strong defense there can be no genuine overall strength. (12)

There is also a debate among foreign analysts about how much China's aviation industry has been able to learn from foreign aircraft manufacturers and transfer the knowledge to producing combat aircraft. Foreign aircraft manufacturers have routinely complained for almost two decades that they have spent time and money training Chinese technicians to work on a specific commercial aircraft project, only to have those technicians disappear to some unknown project and be replaced by a new batch of trainees.

While some observers see China's aviation industry as large and stagnant, other observers cite some centers of excellence. Facilities such as the Chengdu Aircraft Company, Xian Aircraft Company, and Shenyang Aircraft Company have made significant progress through joint ventures with Western companies and assistance from Russia and Israel. For example, Boeing 737 tail sections are produced in China with no U.S. backup. These ventures have provided access to Western manufacturing processes and provided valuable technical and managerial training. While these are derived from commercial aircraft manufacturing, the processes are generally the same for a mostly metal fighter aircraft like the J-10 and the Su-27. Only time will tell how these aircraft production programs will turn out. Because of the size of China's air forces, however, any modernization plan will require Chinese production to be economically feasible.

As the PLAAF upgrades its weapons systems, it must also modernize its organizational structure, tactics, training, and support capabilities. One problem associated with analyzing the PLAAF is determining which changes are being tested and which changes are being implemented. PLA journals often discuss research or changes that have taken place at the unit level. Some analysts, however, assume that these changes have been, or will be, implemented throughout the force. This is not necessarily the case. The PLAAF, like the PLA as a whole, has a complex method of introducing new ideas, weapon systems, and tactics into the force. The General Equipment Department has attempted to streamline this process, but only time will tell whether or not it is successful.

After identifying a problem, the PLAAF systematically seeks a solution. First, the appropriate research institute and/or the PLAAF Command College studies the problem from a theoretical perspective and makes recommendations. (13) Next, PLAAF Headquarters approves the recommendations. After this, the theories are tested at the unit level. Occasionally, separate units test different alternatives simultaneously. Based upon evaluations, competing theories may be accepted, modified, or rejected. After the competing theories are tested and accepted at the unit level, they are tested at the next level, and so forth up the organizational structure. At some point, the PLAAF selects one of the theories and begins implementing it force-wide, starting again at the unit level.

This is a time consuming process and involves a tremendous amount of coordination. The problem becomes even more complex if the theory being tested involves more than one PLAAF branch or PLA service. Whereas a change in flying tactics involves only the PLAAF's aviation branch, changes in the logistics system to support joint service operations involves the entire PLA. For example, the 1995 and 1996 exercises opposite Taiwan were intended as a show of force, but they also provided the PLA with the opportunity to test joint training that had been evolving since the end of the Gulf War.

China Improves its Air Force

For the last decade PLAAF doctrine has been shifting from a stress on defensive operations to a new emphasis on "active defense." This term includes a range of operations that can be considered "offensive." Chinese scholar of the PLA You Ji has further listed a range of new tactical operations that stress rapid mobilization, and pre-emptive attacks, and independent operations that all fall under a doctrine of "active defense." The current doctrinal challenge for the PLAAF is to devise tactics and operations that conform to a more recent PLA stress on joint-service operations. All of this points toward the development of a modern vision for the employment of air forces.


In the past PLAAF training was criticized for its lack of realism, an unwillingness to put aircraft at risk, and its stress on following ground control orders. While open source information is limited, it appears that with more advanced aircraft like the Su-27, the PLAAF is exercising harder and is trying to simulate more realistic combat scenarios. There also appears to be a greater emphasis on obtaining modern simulators, which are critical for training multirole fighter operations. The PLA may also be developing it own Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation system, which allows aerial operations to be recorded and analyzed on computer monitors.


Perhaps the most visible manifestation of the new stress on "active defense" is the PLAAF's current expansion of its attack-capable multirole fighters. It now appears that most new PLAAF fighters will be multirole aircraft. According to recent reports, the total number of modern multirole fighters could reach between 300 and 400 aircraft by 2005. If realized, this would constitute a rapid transformation of PLAAF capabilities.

The most potent multirole fighter now entering PLAAF service is the Su-30MKK, a twin-seat dedicated attack variant of the Su-27. Recent Russian reports suggest that the PLAAF could acquire 100 of these fighters, perhaps by 2005. Comparable to the U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle, the Su-30MKK is the first PLAAF strike fighter capable of all-weather attack missions with modern precision-guided missiles. It is also a very effective air superiority fighter. With aerial refueling its combat radius can exceed 2,500 miles, which allows strikes against Okinawa, Guam and most of the South China Sea.

Recent reports suggest that China may build up to 500 of its long-awaited Chengdu J-10 fighter. After a twenty-year development period, this F-16 size fighter will soon enter production. Having benefited from Israeli design advice and Russian components, the J-10 will likely also be a potent multirole fighter capable of aerial combat and ground-attack missions with precision-guided weapons.

The PLAAF's urgency in acquiring multirole fighters is demonstrated by its continued acquisition of seemingly obsolete fighters like the Shenyang J-8II and the Xian JH-7. The J-8II is a very old design, yet the PLAAF could build or modify up to 100 with new Russian multimode radar that make this fighter attack capable. The JH-7 is an indigenous Chinese attack fighter that is far less capable than the Su-30MKK, yet China is also persisting with this program by acquiring more British Rolls Royce engines to make more fighters. Though obsolete airframes, the PLAAF understands that with advanced radar and attack munitions, these aircraft can make a valuable contribution to a campaign for Taiwan.


It is also apparent that the PLAAF is following foreign trends and investing more in "smart" long-range munitions that allow the aircraft to avoid enemy air defenses. In the last year the PLAAF has unveiled a new supersonic ramjet-powered attack missile and a new land-attack variant of an older antiship missile. Both were featured on models of the JH-7 attack fighter. The PLAAF is also buying new Russian attack missiles like the Kh-31P anti-radar missile and the Kh-59 television-guided attack missile. At the recent August 2001 Moscow Airshow a new 285km range antiship variant of the Kh-59 was revealed, with strong indications that the PLAAF is its primary customer.


Dedicated radar, tanker and intelligence aircraft are essential for modern air combat, and the PLAAF is investing in all three. Its first capable airborne warning and control system (AWACS), the Russian A-50E, may be delivered in 2002. These will be able to direct both offensive and defensive operations over the Taiwan Strait. The PLAAF is converting old H-6 (Tu-16) bombers to aerial tankers and is reported to have purchased more capable Russian Ilyushin Il-78M aerial tankers. The PLAAF is also acquiring a small number of dedicated electronic reconnaissance aircraft and may be developing new drone aircraft for photo reconnaissance.


Recent reports from Taiwan suggest that the 15th Airborne Army may be substantially expanded to a force that exceeds 50,000 men. This plus recent reports that the PLAAF will acquire thirty to forty more large Il-76 transport aircraft, and many other reports of the development of new light armor vehicles, point the potential for a more capable PLA Airborne force in the future. The danger is that such a force could prove instrumental in either scaring Taiwan into submission, or, if used correctly, could deliver the final blow needed to force Taiwan's surrender. However, the airborne forces are not at this stage just yet.


Often overlooked, the PLAAF is also investing heavily in new radar and anti-aircraft weapons. The PLA understands that to support modern offensive operations, bases and critical logistic nodes require far greater protection. The PLA's radar and electronic warfare capabilities are already quite respectable. The last decade has seen the PLA buy new Russian anti-aircraft missiles and possibly seek Russian help in developing new families of Chinese anti-aircraft missiles. The PLA has also place a high priority on defending against U.S. cruise missiles and precision-guided weapons. PLA systems like the "Bodyguard" combine laser dazzlers plus smoke and chaff to confuse U.S. laser-guided bombs. The PLA is also investing in a number of radar technologies to defeat the U.S. advantage in stealth aircraft.

Monday, 7 January, 2008

Chinese black helicopters circle Google Earth

Here's a comparison of the Chinese model and the Google Earth image of the region in question........
It's clear that a huge amount of time and resources has been invested in this perplexing scale model, which incidentally represents an area of around 450 by 350 kilometers. The big question is: why?
The only sensible explanation we can come up with is that it's a training aid for pilots - possibly helicopter jockeys - designed to familiarise them with the landscape should military action ever be required.No doubt you lot can come up with some better suggestions, but while you ponder this mystery keep one eye open for the black helicopters of Huangyangtan.
Those among you who like your skies darkened by black helicopters are invited to mosey on down to the remote Chinese village of Huangyangtan which hosts what must be the strangest military installation ever spotted by the Google Earth Community:

Zooming in for a closer look, we have what appears to be a 900x700m scale model of a mountainous landscape.....complete with lakes, valleys and snow-capped peaks:

China's Nuclear and Missile Espionage Heightens the Need for Missile Defense

Early in the next decade, China will begin to field modern, long-range ballistic missiles that will be capable of reaching the continental United States. Two recent reports from the U.S. Congress explain in disturbing detail the ways in which China's missile programs have benefited from the theft of U.S. nuclear and missile technology secrets over many years. The most comprehensive report is that of the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, chaired by Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA), which was issued on May 25, 1999. A second important report was released in April by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.The sobering revelations in these reports, especially when viewed in light of the volatility of U.S.-China relations and China's record of conducting provocative missile tests to pressure Taiwan and the United States, make it imperative that the United States develop and deploy a national missile defense (NMD) system as soon as possible.This means the Bush Administration should abandon its adherence to the defunct 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which prevents the United States from developing effective missile defenses, and increase funding for existing national and theater missile defense programs.
Today, China may have 18 to 26 DF-5 intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs). These missiles, with a range of 8,000 miles, are unwieldy due their use of liquid fuel, which takes a long time to fill. To remedy this deficiency, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is developing two new ICBMs and one submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Its most advanced missile program is the solid-fueled, 5,000-mile-range DF-31 ICBM, which would be capable of hitting the western United States. The Cox Report estimates this missile could be deployed by 2002. The DF-31 is expected to be nearly identical to China's next SLBM, the JL-2, which recent reports indicate China intends to test this year. If the test is successful, it will enhance the likelihood that the DF-31 will be deployed by 2002. Deployment of the JL-2 itself will take longer because China must complete building a new class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine that will be quieter and faster and reach greater depths than China's current submarines.

In 2005 and beyond, it is likely that China will field the 8,000-mile-range DF-41 solid-fueled ICBM. This missile could target almost the entire United States from bases inside China. Both the DF-31 and DF-41 are expected to be mounted on mobile transporter-erector-launchers (TELs) developed with the help of technology from Russia.Likely to be concealed within a network of mountainside caves, China's new missiles would be much more difficult to find, thanks to these TELs, and could be launched with much less warning for the United States. Both of the new ICBMs are expected to incorporate multiple independently targeted reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads. This means a single missile based in China could threaten a number of cities or military targets inside the United States.
Impact of U.S. Technology on China's New Missiles

China's potential near-term ability to threaten the United States with modern, solid-fueled ICBMs armed with multiple warheads is a direct consequence of its access--illegal and legal--to U.S. technology. The Cox Report and the Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence outline several areas in which stolen U.S. technology probably has assisted China's nuclear missile development programs and enabled them to advance much more rapidly than they otherwise could have. China has obtained U.S. information or technology in the specific areas of solid-fuel motors, nuclear warhead design, and missile guidance. In addition to becoming able to build new modern ICBMs, China also now has the ability to retrofit existing ICBMs to carry multiple warheads. U.S. technology has been instrumental to China's new ICBM programs in the following areas:
Solid-Fuel Motors.
Access to U.S. solid-fuel missile technology is perhaps one of the most important elements that have enabled China to build new modern, small-sized nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. China's existing ICBMs, like the DF-5, are somewhat less threatening to the United States because they are large, immobile, and use slow-loading liquid fuels. China now is able to make modern ballistic missiles, however, that have a high degree of flexibility and can be launched much more rapidly because it acquired U.S. solid-fuel technology in the course of commercial cooperation with a U.S. company. In 1994, with the approval of U.S. Department of Defense monitors, a U.S. corporation helped China to perfect its Perigee Kick Motor (EPKM), which "kicks" a satellite into a precise orbit. Prior to this help, the EPKM failed repeatedly because of poor motor wall insulation. U.S. know-how apparently helped to solve the problem. According to a Chinese former rocket motor engineer, this new knowledge was applied quickly to the motors of China's DF-21 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) and the DF-31 ICBM. According to this defector, before the U.S. assistance, the DF-21 had a record of failure and the DF-31 program was at a standstill.
Nuclear Warhead Design.
Equally important to China's new ballistic missiles as U.S. solid-fuel motor technology is U.S. technology for making small, accurate nuclear warheads. China has had to rely on large, unwieldy liquid-fueled missiles in part because it could not build small, lightweight nuclear warheads. The Cox Report details the ways in which, most likely since the late 1970s, China has infiltrated agents into U.S. nuclear laboratories who have "stolen classified information of every currently deployed thermonuclear warhead in the U.S. ICBM arsenal." The Cox Report concludes that China's next-generation small nuclear warheads will emulate U.S. designs, most likely either the W-70 Lance warhead or the W-88 Trident D-5 warhead. China also has stolen very important "legacy codes" that are critical to testing the reliability of nuclear weapons by computer without the need to detonate a nuclear device. This stolen information could have saved China 2 to 10 years of effort.
by Richard D. Fisher, Jr., and Baker Spring
Backgrounder #1303

Early in the next decade, China will begin to field modern, long-range ballistic missiles that will be capable of reaching the continental United States. Two recent reports from the U.S. Congress explain in disturbing detail the ways in which China's missile programs have benefited from the theft of U.S. nuclear and missile technology secrets over many years. The most comprehensive report is that of the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, chaired by Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA), which was issued on May 25, 1999. 1 A second important report was released in April by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 2

The sobering revelations in these reports, especially when viewed in light of the volatility of U.S.-China relations and China's record of conducting provocative missile tests to pressure Taiwan and the United States, make it imperative that the United States develop and deploy a national missile defense (NMD) system as soon as possible. This means the Bush Administration should abandon its adherence to the defunct 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which prevents the United States from developing effective missile defenses, and increase funding for existing national and theater missile defense programs.

Today, China may have 18 to 26 DF-5 intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs). These missiles, with a range of 8,000 miles, are unwieldy due their use of liquid fuel, which takes a long time to fill. To remedy this deficiency, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is developing two new ICBMs and one submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Its most advanced missile program is the solid-fueled, 5,000-mile-range DF-31 ICBM, which would be capable of hitting the western United States. The Cox Report estimates this missile could be deployed by 2002. The DF-31 is expected to be nearly identical to China's next SLBM, the JL-2, which recent reports indicate China intends to test this year. If the test is successful, it will enhance the likelihood that the DF-31 will be deployed by 2002. Deployment of the JL-2 itself will take longer because China must complete building a new class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine that will be quieter and faster and reach greater depths than China's current submarines.

In 2005 and beyond, it is likely that China will field the 8,000-mile-range DF-41 solid-fueled ICBM. This missile could target almost the entire United States from bases inside China. Both the DF-31 and DF-41 are expected to be mounted on mobile transporter-erector-launchers (TELs) developed with the help of technology from Russia.

Warhead Accuracy.
Thanks again to technology stolen from the United States, China's new nuclear warheads will be much more accurate. Along with information on the nuclear payload of the warhead, China also obtained information on modern U.S. reentry vehicles. The shaping of warhead reentry vehicles is essential to improving the accuracy of such nuclear warheads, and increased accuracy is needed to compensate for the reduced nuclear yield of the smaller-sized warhead. A brochure of the Beijing Institute of Aerodynamics shows China's small, modern shape reentry vehicles in development. 11 In contrast with China's early nuclear reentry vehicles that were large and blunt, and thus less accurate, the new warheads will feature sharp conical bodies characteristic of modern, accurate reentry vehicles.
Multiple Warhead Delivery.
U.S. technology also has been critical to enabling China to develop MIRVs. To increase their effectiveness against a larger number of targets, most modern ICBMs are equipped with these MIRV warheads. MIRV delivery requires an advanced warhead "bus" that is able to point and release warheads with precision. Although it does not appear that any stolen or purchased U.S. technology has helped China to develop such a warhead bus, commercial interaction with a U.S. satellite maker did provide China the impetus to build a Smart Dispenser that allows a single space launch vehicle to place multiple satellites in orbit. The technology required for the satellite Smart Dispenser is virtually identical to that needed for a MIRV bus. To date, Motorola has launched 12 of its Iridium communication satellites from China's Long March LM-2C/SD rockets that use the Smart Dispenser bus. According to the Chinese engineer mentioned earlier, the Smart Dispenser project was moribund until it was revived by commercial funding from U.S. firms. The Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concludes that commercial interaction with a U.S. company had a "pulling effect" on China's satellite Smart Dispenser program.
Because of its progress in building small, accurate nuclear warheads and its development of a satellite Smart Dispenser that can be converted to a MIRV bus, China now has the option to retrofit its existing 8,000-mile-range DF-5 ICBMs to carry multiple warheads. In fact, the Long March LM-2C/SD used to launch the communication satellites is only a slightly modified DF-5 ICBM. Outfitting China's estimated 26 DF-5s with an 8-warhead MIRV bus would increase the number of nuclear weapons carried by the DF-5s from 26 to 208.

Missile Design, Testing, and Reliability.
In the course of commercial cooperation with U.S. companies, China has acquired information that can improve the design, testing, and reliability of its satellite space launch vehicles--information that can be used to improve current and future strategic missiles. Following the failure of two Long March launches in 1992 and 1995 that destroyed satellites made by a U.S. company, China was given information to improve the cone, or "fairing," atop the missile that covers the satellite. This same information could be used to build better fairings for MIRV ICBMs. China also received analysis of the ways in which stress affects missiles, thereby helping it to improve the reliability of future missiles. 14 In the course of the review of the February 14, 1995, failure of a Long March LM-3B launcher, which also destroyed a U.S. company's communication satellite, China was given information that could improve the reliability of missile inertial guidance systems and diagnostic processes that could reduce the failure rate of future missiles.A DEFENSIVE RESPONSE

The impending improvements to China's missile arsenal carry several important implications for the future of the U.S. NMD program. First and foremost, China's advances increase the urgent need for missile defense just to address the threat to the United States and it allies. It is clear that China's strategic nuclear missile arsenal of the future will be mobile--deployed on trucks or submarines--and therefore more difficult to target with offensive forces. This is not to say that U.S. offensive strategic forces will have no role in holding China's missile arsenal at risk; 16 instead, it acknowledges that the technology for making U.S. offensive weapons capable of countering missiles mounted on trucks and advancements in anti-submarine warfare are not yet sufficient to counter China's emerging missile threat effectively. Missile defenses are the logical near-term answer to the mobile missile threat.

The second implication is that the U.S. missile defense program will have to accelerate the development and deployment of systems that are capable of destroying ballistic missiles in their ascent or boost phases. It is clear that the ability to build smaller nuclear warheads will allow China to mount more than one warhead on each missile. It also is likely that China's future missiles will include decoys and penetration aids that can be used to overwhelm or fool certain kinds of missile defense systems.
Ascent-phase Missile Defenses

The missile defense systems that are susceptible to being overwhelmed or deceived are those that perform intercepts in the midcourse or terminal phases of a ballistic missile's flight, after each warhead, decoy, or penetration aid has separated from the booster. On the other hand, a defense capable of intercepting missiles in their ascent phase--or, even better, their boost phase--could destroy a missile before individual warheads and decoys or penetration aids could be released. Thus, an ascent-phase defense would undermine the military purpose of deploying multiple warhead missiles that included decoys or penetration aids.

There are several additional reasons that a boost-phase missile defense system is preferable. First, during its ascent phase, and even more so during its boost phase, a ballistic missile travels fairly slowly. It also emits a large plume of heat and light at this stage. Taken together, these two characteristics of ballistic missile flight make such a missile relatively easy to track and target, and therefore intercept, during these early stages of flight. Moreover, a boost-phase defense could be coupled with midcourse and terminal defense systems to provide a layered defense capability. This layered system would provide the opportunity to shoot at the attacking missile several times during the course of its flight. Obviously, a multiple-shot defense would be more capable than a single-shot defense, particularly against the kinds of sophisticated missiles that carried multiple warheads, decoys, and penetration aids.
Countering China's Nuclear Strategies

Finally, an ascent-phase defense would provide the United States with the greatest leverage for countering what may be China's emerging nuclear strategy. Because of the small number of deliverable strategic nuclear warheads currently in China's arsenal (several dozen) and the low alert status of the missiles (indications are that, on a day-to-day basis, the missiles are neither mated to their warheads nor fueled), the speculation is that China has adopted a "limited deterrence" nuclear strategy. Such a strategy assumes that China's leaders see their nuclear arsenal as essential to deterring enemy attacks by maintaining a capability to inflict unacceptable damage in a retaliatory strike.

China's strategic modernization effort, however, may signal the intention of its leaders to jettison their existing strategy of limited deterrence in favor of a more aggressive strategy to actually fight a nuclear war.If China is pursuing such a strategy, its success will depend on obtaining a more survivable strategic nuclear arsenal that is appropriate for warfighting against perceived regional rivals and for deterring a U.S. military response. It almost certainly would involve targeting Taiwan with nuclear weapons and even Japan, a strong ally of the United States. Most important, it would target U.S. territory in an attempt to deter a U.S. intervention to protect its friends and allies in Asia. Ascent-phase missile defenses, which are capable of protecting both U.S. territory and U.S. allies, would directly undermine the viability of China's more threatening potential nuclear strategy. In ideal circumstances, the deployment of such defenses could serve to persuade China's leaders to retain the less threatening nuclear strategy they are thought to have today.
First from the Sea
The Heritage Foundation released a report in March 1999 that was prepared by a panel of experts on missile defense chaired by Ambassador Henry Cooper, the former director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) in the Bush Administration. The missile defense plan outlined in the Heritage study would give a limited capability for countering ballistic missiles in their ascent phase (prior to the release of individual warheads, decoys, or penetration aids) by the deployment of sea-based interceptors. A much more robust boost-phase intercept capability could be achieved from the later deployment of space-based interceptors (SBIs) and space-based lasers (SBLs).

To field a global, sea-based ballistic missile defense system, the Heritage experts recommend upgrading what is called the Navy Theater-Wide (NTW) system for defending against IRBMs. The cost of acquiring 650 interceptor missiles, to be deployed on existing U.S. Navy Aegis cruisers, would be about $3 billion. With streamlined management, this system could be deployed as early as 2003. An undated and unclassified summary of a classified study undertaken by the Department of Defense's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) confirms that the NTW system could be refined and adapted for intercepting long-range missiles of the type China is working to modernize. Making the NTW system fully capable also would require that it be supported by a constellation of sensor satellites deployed in low-earth orbit. This system, currently under development, and is called the Space-Based Infrared System-Low (SBIRS-Low). If the program were accelerated and managed as a national priority, this satellite constellation could begin operations as early as 2003 as well. It would cost some $5 billion to acquire.

Under certain circumstances, this enhanced NTW system would be capable of intercepting ballistic missiles in their ascent phase, and even their boost phase. The limitations on the NTW system's ability to perform ascent-phase and boost-phase intercepts are derived in part from the range of the target missile and the location of the Navy ship relative to the launch site of the target missile. Generally speaking, the longer the range of the target missile and the closer the ship is to the launch site, the more likely the NTW system is to intercept and destroy the target missile in the ascent or even boost phase. The NTW system has been hampered, however, by the Clinton Administration's policy of constraining the development and testing of the system. The Administration has reduced the velocity of the NTW system's interceptor missile and denied the use of external sensor data in the course of tests on the system. These restraints should be removed in order to allow a demonstration of the system's ability to counter missiles of the kind China soon will begin to produce. Specifically, Congress should require that the BMDO conduct an intercept test of the NTW system against a target missile with the flight characteristics of a modern ICBM in a way that demonstrates the ability to intercept the target missile in its ascent phase. The urgency of the threat dictates that this test should occur no later than the end of fiscal year (FY) 2001. Finally, the BMDO should be required to maintain the speed of the NTW interceptor at 4.5 kilometers per second to allow it to counter faster, long-range missiles, and to allow the use of external sensor data during the intercept tests.
And Then from Space

Building a more advanced capability for performing intercepts of long-range missiles in the ascent phase than what is available with the NTW system would require developing, testing, and deploying SBIs and SBLs. Both systems would have greater capabilities for defending against long-range missiles in the boost phase than an upgraded NTW system would. Because SBLs still are in the technology demonstration phase, the best option would be to resume the development and testing of SBIs, which could be deployed within five years for an initial investment of $4 billion to $5 billion.

The Clinton Administration cancelled the SBI program in 1993. Thus, it is up to Congress to revive the program. It could do so by allocating $250 million of the $836 million the Administration plans to make available for the development of an NMD system. 22 Congress should insist that the BMDO test an SBI against a target test missile with the flight characteristics of a modern ICBM similar to what China is working to develop, to demonstrate the interceptor's ability to counter such missiles in the ascent phase. This requirement would mirror the one proposed for the NTW system. In this case, however, the required test should occur no later than the end of FY 2003.
The primary reason the Clinton Administration has restrained the NMD program is its policy of honoring the ABM Treaty with the former Soviet Union. The ABM Treaty barred the deployment of a territorial NMD system. It also imposed a variety of restrictions on even the development and testing of certain kinds of missile defense systems, including those that could be deployed at sea and in space. It is likely that, for these reasons, China supports the ABM Treaty and even has suggested that it become party to the treaty.The ABM Treaty, however, no longer is legally binding, if for no other reason than the only treaty partner with the United States, the Soviet Union, no longer exists. No individual state or group of states--including Russia--is capable of assuming the obligations of the Soviet Union under the treaty.

Despite the ABM Treaty's lack of legal standing, the Clinton Administration honors its terms on a unilateral basis. Further, it in effect is trying to revive the treaty through the adoption of a new treaty with four states, which was signed by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on September 26, 1997. This new treaty contains many of the provisions of the old ABM Treaty, but would apply them to a new, multilateral setting. This new treaty requires the approval of the Senate prior to ratification. But the Administration has not transmitted the treaty to the Senate yet, let alone obtained its approval.

The tests of the NTW and SBI systems proposed above are not consistent with the Clinton Administration's policy. Enactment of these requirements by Congress effectively would end the Administration's policy. Such tests also would be inconsistent with the new multilateral treaty, at least according to the Administration's descriptions of the ways it intends to interpret and apply it if it is ratified. Thus, enacting these testing requirements would be tantamount to rejecting the new treaty because statutory requirements supersede the provisions of even ratified treaties, and certainly of treaties that have been signed but not ratified.

Although the two tests would not necessarily violate a provision of the ABM Treaty directly--if it remained in force--they would not be consistent with the Clinton Administration's "narrow interpretation" of the treaty. The subsequent deployment of the upgraded NTW system and the SBI system generally would be viewed as inconsistent with the treaty, if it were still in force. As a result, the enactment of these testing requirements would signal that the United States no longer considered itself bound by the ABM Treaty and would codify in U.S. law the fact that the ABM Treaty has lapsed under international law.

Establishing these legal precedents, however, should not be the primary purpose of performing the tests of the NTW and SBI systems. The primary purpose should be to develop, test, and deploy the most capable missile defense technologies obtainable to counter the growing missile threat presented by China and other countries. Only in the absence of ABM Treaty-derived restraints would the United States become able to address the urgent missile threat from China and similar serious threats from such rogue states as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. This is the reason it is important--indeed vital--that the United States abandon these restraints now. It is important to note that China never has been party to the ABM Treaty and always has been free to develop, test, and deploy any kind of missile defense system it is capable of producing.

China expresses "grave concern" that USS Kitty Hawk passed Taiwan on way back to Japan

China said Tuesday it had expressed "grave concern" that the USS Kitty Hawk passed through the Taiwan Strait on its way back to Japan after it was barred from entering Hong Kong for a Thanksgiving port call.

Mainland Chinese authorities reversed their decision but by then the ships were too far out to sea and did not turn back.

"U.S. officials informed China at that time that it took the route because of a storm," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a briefing. "China expressed grave concern to the U.S. and requested the U.S. to take prudent moves in this highly sensitive area."

Before the Kitty Hawk incident, ties between the two sides were already frayed over the U.S. Congress giving the Dalai Lama its highest civilian honor and American arms sales to China's rival, Taiwan.

Although the Tibetan spiritual leader is lauded in much of the world as a figure of moral authority, Beijing demonizes the monk and claims he seeks to destroy China's sovereignty by pushing for independence for Tibet.China also still regards Taiwan part of its territory although the two split in 1949 during civil war and has threatened force if the island moves to formalize its de facto independence.

Washington's decision to sell Taiwan an anti-missile defense system has been a sensitive point with China, which says it encourages the self-ruling island's independent identity.

Washington encourages the sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan and is obligated by the Taiwan Relations Act to maintain sufficient force in the Pacific as a deterrent against China.

But the act does not require the defense of Taiwan by U.S. forces if the island comes under attack from the mainland.

In recent weeks, the Chinese have also denied entry to the USS Reuben James, a Navy frigate, and two Navy minesweepers.

Friday, 4 January, 2008

China has significantly reorganized facilities believed to be launch sites for nuclear ballistic missiles near Delingha

China has significantly reorganized facilities believed to be launch sites for nuclear ballistic missiles near Delingha in the northern parts of Central China, according to commercial satellite images analyzed by the Federation of American Scientists.

The images indicate that older liquid-fueled missiles previously thought to have been deployed in the area may have been replaced with newer solid-fueled missiles. From the sites, the missiles are within range of three Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) fields and a bomber base in the southern parts of central Russia.

Analysis of Changes

The Chinese launch sites, which are located at an elevation of approximately 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), are in an area that for years has been rumored to be a deployment area for liquid-fueled DF-4 long-range nuclear ballistic missiles. In November 2006, FAS and NRDC published Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning, which used satellite images to describe the two launch sites. Several other apparent sites nearby did not have any infrastructure and many appeared abandoned.
The southern launch site has changed most dramatically. In late-2005, the site had what appeared to be a large missile garage, approximately 40 small buildings (possibly crew quarters), and more than half a dozen service trucks. A gate was also visible. In the new image from late-2006, all of those features are gone with only a single service truck visible on the launch pad, and the access road appears to have been paved.The second launch site some 2.5 miles (4.3 km) to the north has also changed significantly, but here operations appear to have increased. In late-2005, this site included what appeared to be a missile garage, an underground facility, approximately 15 buildings, and less than a dozen service trucks of various sizes. The new satellite image from late-2006, however, shows that the large garage has been removed, the number of buildings nearly doubled, the access roads paved, and work appears to be in progress next to the underground facility.Most interestingly, clearly visible are eight 13-meter trucks lined up on the launch pad. The satellite image is not of high enough resolution to identify the trucks and their features with certainty, but they strongly resemble the six-axle transport erector launchers (TELs) in use with the 10-meter DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile. A vague line across the trailer two-thirds toward the rear resembles the position of the hydraulic pumps used to erect the missile canister to a vertical position.Changes to Other Delingha Sites

The two launch sites described above are the most actively visible in the satellite images. But there are more sites that appear to be involved in missile operations. North along the main road is what appears to be five smaller dispersed parking or launch platforms. None of these sites had any vehicles or infrastructure visible in 2005, but the new image shows one 13-meter truck present at four of the five sites. One of the sites appears to be upgrading with new access roads, a building, and half a dozen service vehicles (see right).

Further to the west, approximately 10 miles (17 km) from site 1 and 2, is another road leading north into the mountains. Along this road, another eight possible dispersal launch sites are visible. No 13-meter trucks, buildings, or other vehicles are visible at these sites.

The DF-21 Medium-Range Ballistic Missile

The DF-21 is a medium-range ballistic missile estimated by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to have a range of approximately 1,330 miles (2,150 kilometers). It is China's first solid-fueled ballistic missile and believed to carry a single warhead with a yield of 200-300 kilotons. Full operational deployment began in 1991. The missile is approximately 33 feet (10 meters) long and launched from a six-axle transporter erect launcher (TEL). Two versions of the missile are deployed, according to the DOD. Some might have been converted to carry conventional warhead.The Defense Intelligence Agency estimated in 1996 that the DF-21 was expected to complement and possibly take over the strategic targeting role of the DF-3 by 2000. But introduction was slow. Whether this is now happening, and whether the DF-21 is also replacing DF-4s in some roles is unknown. The DOD’s annual report on China’s military power for years showed great uncertainty about the number of DF-21s, the 2006 report listing a range of 19-50 missiles on 34-38 launchers. The 2007 report, however, lists 40-50 missiles on 34-38 launchers, which suggests the DOD believes the number of missiles has increased while the number of launchers has stayed the same.Uncertainties and Implications

It is important to caution that there is no information publicly available that confirms that the Delingha sites are launch sites for ballistic missiles, or that the 13-meter trucks indeed are DF-21 launchers. First, the changes at the sites may be routine because nearly all of China's ballistic missile are mobile, and the support units are designed to follow the launchers wherever they go. Second, the rumored DF-4 deployment in the area may have been wrong, or the DF-21 may have moved in years ago but only been publicly visible now. U.S. and Russian spy satellites probably have monitored the changes at Delingha on a daily basis and provided a much more detailed understanding of what is happening at the sites.

Yet the indications that the DF-21 is deployed at Delingha appear to be strong. And if the dozen 13-meter trucks visible on the satellite images at Delingha indeed are DF-21 TELs, then 32-35 percent of China’s estimated inventory of DF-21 launchers are deployed in central China.

With a DIA-listed range of 1,330 miles (2,150 kilometers) the DF-21s would not be able to reach any U.S. bases from Delingha, but they would be able to hold at risk all of northern India including New Delhi. Moreover, and this is perhaps the most interesting implication of the discovery, DF-21s would be within range of three main Russian ICBM fields on the other side of Mongolia: the SS-25 fields near Novosibirsk and Irkutsk, the SS-18 field near Uzhur, and a Backfire bomber base at Belaya.

Whereas targeting New Delhi could be considered normal for a non-alert retaliatory posture like China's, targeting Russian ICBM fields and air bases would be a step further in the direction of a counterforce posture. But again, it is unknown exactly what role the Delingha missiles have, and the DF-21 may not be accurate enough to pose a serious risk to hardened Russian ICBM silos. Regardless of targeting, Delingha appears to be very active.One of the most striking features about the sites is their high vulnerability to attack. All appear to be almost entirely surface-based facilities (although Site 2 has an underground structure), and a mobile missile launcher is extremely vulnerable once it has been discovered. The sites were possible DF-21 launchers were detected are located within a distance of about six miles (10 kilometers). A single high-yield nuclear warhead would probably be sufficient to neutralize the entire force visible in the images.

But an adversary might not even have to cross the nuclear threshold. A single U.S. B-2 bomber loaded with non-nuclear JDAM bombs (see this video) would probably be sufficient to neutralize the dozen launch sites seen in the images. The United States has begun to incorporate such advanced conventional weapons into its strategic strike plans to give the president "more options." Since China has repeatedly pledged that it "will not be the first to use such [nuclear] weapons at any time and in any circumstance," some might conclude that a conventional strike on Chinese nuclear forces would not trigger Chinese use of nuclear weapons. But whether Beijing (or anyone else) would indeed stand idle by as its nuclear forces were taken out by conventional weapons is highly questionable.

Chinese Army to modernize its logistic sector by 2020

China has published a guideline for the development of the logistic sector of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), that plans the route to a modern, efficient and flexible logistic sector for the Army by the year 2020.

Hu Jintao, State President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, recently signed a decree to circulate the "Guideline on the Comprehensive Development of the Modern Logistic Sector" for the Army.

By 2010, the PLA will make substantial achievements in logistic modernization, to make it capable of meeting logistic demands for fighting emergency wars; and by 2020, the Army will achieve an overall modernization for its logistic sector, so as to be able to fight and win wars in the Information Age, according to the guideline.The guideline, which went into effect on Dec. 12, will "greatly accelerate our Army's logistic modernization," said Lieutenant General Li Maifu, deputy director of the PLA General Logistic Department, in an interview with Xinhua on Monday.

According to the Lieutenant General, the PLA started its logistic reform on a trial base in 2004, and in April this year, the reform entered a new stage as the PLA Jinan Military Area Command took the lead to adopt an integrated logistic supply for all its subordinate units, no matter if they were army, navy or air force units.For decades, the PLA had organized its own logistic supply. Now, under the guideline, the Army will introduce more and more civilian suppliers.

So far, 5,200 barracks of the PLA have employed civilian suppliers for catering and medical services. Meanwhile, 95 percent of the Army's clothing and quilts are provided by civilian manufacturers.Through reforms, the Army has cut its staff working for logistics service by more than 60,000.