China is moving quickly to develop and deploy advanced missile systems. For example, the Chinese air force (People's Liberation Army Air Force, or PLAAF) is preparing to deploy its first active radar anti-air missile.
The PLAAF has completed its first round of development tests on the PL-12 radar-guided missile. The Pi Li 12 is considered to be superior to the U.S. AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. The self-guided AMRAAM is the main long-range armament for all U.S. fighter jets.
The new Chinese Project 129 or PL-12 missile is a Sino-Russian collaboration drawn from the Russian AA-12 Adder and equipped with an indigenous Chinese high-power rocket motor.
Both Russian missile makers Vympel and seeker-designer AGAT are directly involved with the China Leihua Electronic Technology Research Institute (LETRI), also known as 607 Institute, in the PL-12 program.
The Chinese missile reportedly uses a Russian-made AGAT radar seeker directly related to the Russian R-77 (AA-12 Adder) air-to-air missile.
The PL-12 reportedly has a maximum head-on engagement range of 50 miles and a maximum speed of four times the speed of sound. The PL-12 recently completed a series of trials on the Shenyang J-8II, and integration tests are now under way on the Chengdu F-10 advanced fighter.
The missile is expected to be deployed on the F-10, the new FC-1 and the J-11, the Chinese licensed manufactured SU-27 Flanker.
Russian Weapons for Sale
Russia is also assisting the PLAAF to develop the F-10 jet fighter. Rosoboronexport, the Russian weapons export company, has signed a $300 million deal with the PLAAF to supply 100 Salyut Al-31FN turbofan jet engines for the F-10.
The jet engines are a modified version of the same Al-31 engines installed on the Sukhoi SU-27 operated by the PLAAF. The deal follows a sale of 54 Al-31FN engines last year.
The U.S. Defense Department also predicted the growing Russian weapons sale in its recently released "ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS: The Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2005."
"As China's defense industries continue to mature, Beijing is purchasing from abroad systems to meet near-term requirements. For example, China received deliveries of Su-30MK2 multi-role FLANKER aircraft in 2004 to fill a gap until the F-10 or a license-produced multi-role FLANKER could be deployed. China is also purchasing the Russian AL-31FN aero-engine for the F-10 fighter, while working on an indigenously produced turbofan engine," states the recently released report.
"Beijing has been acquiring foreign and domestic fourth generation tactical aircraft (e.g., Su-27 and Su-30 FLANKER variants, and the PLA's indigenous F-10, which will begin to enter service in 2005). The PLA has also acquired advanced air-to-surface missiles that will allow its air forces to attack surface targets, afloat and ashore, from greater distance and with more precision. Newer aircraft are also being equipped with advanced air-to-air missiles and electronic warfare technology that give these aircraft technological parity with or superiority over most potential adversaries," notes the report.
China has also continued to deploy dangerous first-strike missile systems designed to start and win a war. China has deployed some 650-730 mobile DF-11 and DF-15 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) to garrisons opposite Taiwan. The PLA has plans to increase this force to over 1,000 missiles.
According to the U.S. Defense Department, "deployment of these systems is increasing at a rate of about 100 missiles per year. Newer versions of these missiles feature improved range and accuracy."
In addition, Chinese long-range nuclear-tipped missiles can currently target the entire continental United States. China is modernizing its longer-range ballistic missile force by replacing older systems with newer, more survivable missiles.
Over the next several years China will begin to bring into service a new road-mobile solid-propellant intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM), the DF-31, an extended range DF-31A, and a new submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-2.
Many China apologists argue that the People's Republic is not aggressive and has never invaded another country. The U.S. Defense Department report noted, however, that China has invaded other nations in the recent past, taking military actions against India, invading Tibet and striking at Vietnam.
"Returning to the 1979 conflict with Vietnam, Beijing launched that invasion as a punitive measure to 'teach Hanoi a lesson' following its incursion into Cambodia. China used military coercion short of war when it launched missiles into closure areas off Taiwan in 1995 and 1996 to pressure Taipei," states the report.
China Is Unstable
The Defense Department report also noted that events inside China are not as stable as the PRC government would like the world to believe. The totalitarian regime already faces a great deal of internal trouble brought on by its rigid and brutal policies.
"Party leaders have relaxed their grip on the economic sphere and now allow greater public discourse on some issues, but continue to repress any challenges to their monopoly on political power," states the report.
"As documented in the latest U.S. Department of State report on human rights, independent trade and labor unions are suppressed, ethnic-Tibetan and Uighur minorities are repressed, and religious groups continue to face harassment. Since 1999, as many as 2,000 adherents of the spiritual movement Falun Gong have died in prison from torture, abuse, or neglect. By suppressing the sort of civil society that can provide stability in crises, the Party has become less susceptible to small impacts but remains vulnerable to larger perturbations," states the report.
"Domestic protests, mainly directed at local policies and officials, have grown violent over the past year, posing increasing challenges to China's internal security forces," states the Defense report.
"The number of these incidents in 2004 reached an all-time high of at least 58,000, according to official Chinese estimates. The rising number of protests reflects growing popular dissatisfaction with official behavior related to property rights and forced relocations, labor rights, pensions, corruption, and political reforms."