Sunday, 31 August, 2008

The Threat from China

Missile Strategy

In 2005, the Pentagon expressed its concerns over the speed of Chinas military buildup. While official Chinese sources claim that defense spending constitutes approximately $30 billion, the Pentagon estimates that Chinas defense sector could receive up to $90 billion in 2005, which makes China the third largest defense spender in the world after the United States and Russia, and the largest in Asia. Over the past decade, China has deployed these resources to build a technically sophisticated ballistic missile force: short-range missiles to prevent Taiwans independence; medium-range missiles to gain regional supremacy in East Asia; and long-range missiles to deter the United States from interfering in the first two objectives. China sees the United States as a strategic target and includes ICBM testing in military exercises aimed at Taiwan. In addition, China continues to export its missile technology to Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, and others.

Short-Range Missiles

Chinas SRBM force constitutes the bulk of its ballistic missile arsenal, the overriding function of which is military operations against Taiwan. Almost all of Chinas known CSS-6 (DF-15) and CSS-7 (DF-11) SRBMs are garrisoned opposite Taiwan in the Nanjing Military Region, which includes the Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, and Jiangxi provinces. In the event of an invasion of Taiwan, these SRBMs will most likely be deployed against crucial defense facilities as well as naval units, airbases, and missile launchers.

Chinas SRBM force totals some 650-730 missiles. The road-mobile, conventionally-armed CSS-6 and CSS-7 are essentially improved scud missiles, similar to those deployed by Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. They are used for striking military targets or bombarding civilian areas outside the range of traditional ordinance. Both the CSS-6 and the CSS-7 are road mobile and can disperse throughout the country to take up firing positions in support of a variety of military contingencies. Like the Iraqi ˜Scuds, Chinas first-generation SRBMs do not possess true “precision strike capability, but later generations have greater ranges and improved accuracy.

According to the Pentagon, the rate at which China is deploying these SRBMs near Taiwan is growing exponentially. The Defense Intelligence Agency estimates that China adds 75-120 new missiles per year. In addition to threatening Taiwan, these missiles threaten U.S. airbases, ports, surface combatants, land-based C4ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), and integrated air defense systems and command facilities in the Western Pacific.

Medium-Range Missiles

Chinas medium-range missile force is intended to establish regional supremacy in East Asia. China currently possesses 14-18 CSS-2 (DF-3) IRBMs and 19-23 CSS-5 (DF-21) MRBMs. The liquid-propellant CSS-2 is capable of delivering a 3 MT nuclear warhead over a distance of some 2,800 km. At present, the CSS-2 force is being reduced and replaced by the road-mobile, solid-propellant CSS-5. The CSS-5 has a range of 2,150-2,500 km and can carry a high explosive or a nuclear warhead of up to a 300 kT yield. In July 2002, tests of CSS-5 may have included the test of countermeasures, designed to overcome ballistic missile defenses.

Chinas CSS-2 and CSS-5 missiles are targeted principally against Russian cities and military targets, to deter Russian interference in whatever China might want to do in the Pacific Rim. In addition, these missiles are capable of striking Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. In the event of a future conflict, China would be able to isolate these countries from any help they might need to resist whatever military pressure China might choose to exert. By attacking the major ports of these countries, China could make it impossible for the United States to land enough troops and materials to interfere with whatever plans China might have. The Pacific Rim would be off limits to U.S. influence so long as these ports remain under missile threat.

Long-Range Missiles

Deterrence of U.S. interference with Chinese plans in East Asia is the main purpose of Chinas long-range missiles. China will not build, and does not need, the hundreds of long range missiles that would be required to dent U.S. military forces--never mind military capabilities. But the capacity to deliver tens of warheads on undefended U.S. cities will be enough to keep the U.S. out of a region that its other missiles will already have made into a Chinese bastion. As evidence of Chinas intentions, in July 2005 a prominent Chinese general stated that China is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. if attacked by Washington during a confrontation over Taiwan.

China currently deploys approximately 20 CSS-4 (DF-5) ICBMs, which are capable of striking the United States. The silo-based, liquid-propellant CSS-4 has a range of approximately 13,000 km and can deliver a 3 MT nuclear warhead with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles. In addition, China maintains approximately twenty silo-based, liquid-fueled, limited-ranged CSS-3 (DF-4) ICBMs to sustain its regional nuclear deterrent. However, China is qualitatively and quantitatively improving its strategic missile force in order to provide a credible, survivable nuclear deterrent and counterstrike capability. It is currently developing more survivable missiles capable of targeting virtually all of the U.S., as well as India, Russia, and the Asia-Pacific Theater as far south as Australia and New Zealand.

Chinas three main ICBM development projects include the CSS-9 (DF-31), the CSS-NX-5 (JL-2), and the CSS-X-10 (DF-41). The road-mobile, solid-propellant CSS-9 is currently being designed to supplement Chinas silo-based force. It will have a range of 8,000 km and an upgraded CSS-9 (DF-31A) will have a range of 12,000 km. The mobility of the CSS-9 missiles will enable these systems to operate over a larger area, making them more difficult to locate and neutralize.[8] The submarine-launched, solid-propellant CSS-NX-5 will provide an additional survivable nuclear option to Chinas ballistic missile arsenal. With an estimated range of 8,000 km, the CSS-NX-5 will enable China to target portions of the United States for the first time from operating areas located near the Chinese coast. The solid-propellant CSS-X-10 will represent the peak in Chinese ballistic missile technology. The missile is expected to have a range of 12,000-14,000 km, and will thus be easily capable of striking the United States and will most likely become the core of Chinas nuclear strike force.

China is along with Russia one of the main proliferators of nuclear and missile technology. The United States has previously sanctioned several Chinese companies for transferring missile technology to Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, and others. Despite official denials from both parties, there is overwhelming evidence that China has exported at least 30 M-11s (CSS-7 export version) to Pakistan in contravention of the Missile Technology Control Regime. China also appears to have reached an agreement with Iran to supply components and/or production technology to produce the M-11. Some reports suggest that this production technology includes both propellant and guidance system facilities. China is also known to have built a production facility near Semnan in Iran which has been producing Oghab artillery rockets and the Iran-130 BSRBM since 1987.

According to recent reports, China is aiding Syrian missile program to extend the range of Scud missiles from short to medium and intermediate. In July 2004, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced that Libya possessed blue prints and all components for a Chinese nuclear warhead. China is also known to have sold some 46 36 CSS-2s with conventional warheads to Saudi Arabia, which are maintained and operated by Chinese personnel. A further Chinese program, the CSS-8 (M-7) SRBM is a modified Russian SA-2 surface-to-air missile with solid-fuelled motors. China embarked on this program after stealing Soviet SA-2s destined for North Vietnam via the Chinese rail network in 1966 or 1967 and reverse-engineering them as the HQ-2 SAM. China exported at least 20 CSS-8s to Iran in 1992, although their relatively short range means that they would be useful only in defense of Iranian territory or for limited strikes against neighboring countries.

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