New Pentagon Report on Chinese Military Forces

The 2009 Pentagon report shows hardly any changes of Chinese nuclear forces.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The new annual report on Chinese military forces published by the Pentagon shows essentially no changes in China’s nuclear forces compared with the previous report from 2008.

Perhaps most interestingly, the report shows that China has not increased the number of new DF-31 and DF-31A ballistic missiles, a deployment that has to pick up if the recent Defense Intelligence Agency projection that China’s “number of ICBM warheads capable of reaching the United States could more than double in the next 15 years” is to come true.

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3 Responses to “New Pentagon Report on Chinese Military Forces”

  1. 3.1415 March 26, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    No change is indeed the theme of the Report, which includes the same error published last year. On page 25, Figure 6 shows that JL-2 (yellow line) has a significantly smaller range than DF31 (green line), even though both are listed in the figure legend of having a range of 7200+ km. Should the DOD lable DF31 as 7200++ km to warrant this differential treatment?

  2. dylan March 31, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    A couple of interesting features I noted include:

    1. The range estimate for the DH-10 cruise missile has been dropped from 2000km+ to 1500km+.

    2. The persistence in Fig.22 of apparent doubt about the number of launch tubes of the Jin-SSBN, which is the way I read the 10-14 launchers given for JL-2. With the relative plethora of photos of Jin, it is hard to conceive why the Pentagon would not list it as 12 launch tubes.

  3. david korkia May 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    China’s small nuclear arsenal and no apparent attempt to rapidly increase it suggests that they are not planning for all-out nuclear war. They may however engage in a limited nuclear war by first using cyber-attacks to disable command and control systems and then using nukes to permannetly destroy sites capable of retaliating. They may also attempt to fight a limited conventional war should they decide to invade Taiwan or defend North Korea.
    One scenario involved the use of ballistic missiles against U.S. aircraft carriers.
    But tactical advantage would be lost in using these because of the trajectory, they must follow leaving time for countermeasures to be deployed. U.S. ships on high alert will have their defensive systems pointed in the most likely direction of attack. In this case, mainland China.
    But using a ballisitic miislie to attack would give away a tactical advantage since its trajectory would make it vunerable to defensive measures, But using sub launched cruise missiles would retain that advantage especially if attacking a carrier from the rear.. Given the number of crusie missiles China has compared to ballistic missiles, the following seems a likely scenario.
    U.S. carrier groups prepare to launch airstikes in response to a chinese invasion of Taiwan. Shadowing the U.S. carrier, a Chinese sub uses its passive sonar to listen for catapult noises and other sounds indicating a U.S. airstrike is being launched. At this point a cruise missile(s) are launched from the sub. Lauched from behind the carrier, the cruise missiles (CMs)cause them to fly parallel to and above the flight deck where cluster bombs are then deployed.
    As the cluster bombs explode, they cause sympathetic explosions among aircraft munitions and fuel supplies in effect acting as a force multiplier.
    U.S. dive bombers were so effective in sinking four Japanese carriers at Midway during WW II because they attacked while the carriers were full of aircraft in the process of being rearmed. Using this as an attack option would make the use of ballistic missiles conventional or nuclear unnecessary, except perhaps as part of a high-low attack strategy.(i.e. dive bombers and torpedo bombers) using ballistc missiles for high level attacks while cruise missiles are used for low level attacks.

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