Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR AUG 2015 Contents 37
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 12 | AUG 2015
According to the US DoD’s
annual report, aspects of China’s
military modernisation have the
potential to reduce core US military
technological advantages in
ABOVE: Artist’s impression of a PLAAF H-6K
bomber launching a land attack cruise missile.
systems and networks, information operations and amphibious
and airborne assault.
The PLA, says the report, is developing and testing new
intermediate and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles
and long-range land attack and anti-ship cruise missiles
(ASCM). Such capabilities have the effect of extending the PLA’s
operational reach and place added pressure on adversary forces –
the US included – further from potential regional conflicts.
China’s growing power
projection and precision
THE PENTAGON’S ANNUAL report to Congress – Military and
Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2015
– paints an alarming picture of China’s expanding and multi-
pronged military expansion: “China is investing in capabilities
designed to defeat adversary power projection and counter third-
party – including US – intervention during a crisis or conflict.”
The PLA’s growing ability to project power also augments
China’s globally-oriented objectives to be viewed as a stakeholder
in ensuring stability and the predominant regional power.
Whilst the PLA will maintain a primary emphasis on
developing capabilities for a potential Taiwan contingency, it is
steadily expanding its operational flexibility to be able to meet
regionally and globally-focused missions.
Throughout 2014, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
continued to improve its capabilities for theatre contingencies,
including cruise missiles, short and medium-range ballistic
missiles, high performance combat aircraft, integrated air defence
The following inventory details the vast array of ballistic, anti-ship and
land attack cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles (ASuM) and precision
guided munitions (PGM) already fielded or being introduced into PLA
Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (less than 1,000km): The Second
Artiller y Force had more than 1,200 SRBMs at the end of 2014. The
Second Artiller y Force continues to field advanced variants with improved
ranges and accuracy in addition to more sophisticated payloads, while
gradually replacing earlier generations that do not possess true precision
Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (1,000-3,000km): The PLA is
fielding conventional MRBMs to increase the range at which it can conduct
precision strikes against land targets and naval ships operating far from
China’s shores out to the first island chain.
Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (3,000-5,000km): The PLA is
developing a conventional, road-mobile IRBM, which increases its capability
for near-precision strike out to the second island chain. The PLAN is also
improving its over-the-horizon (OTH) targeting capability with sky wave
and sur face wave OTH radars, which can be used in conjunction with
reconnaissance satellites to locate targets at great distances from China
(thereby supporting long-range precision strikes, including employment of
Land Attack Cruise Missiles: The PLA continues to field ground and
air-launched LACM for stand-off, precision strikes. Air-launched cruise
missiles include the YJ-63 , KD -88 , and the CJ-20 (air-launched version of
the CJ-10 ground launched cruise missile that also remains fielded in the
Second Artiller y Force) . China recently adopted the KD-88 LACM, with an
adver tised range of 100+ km, and may be testing a longer-range version.
China also is developing the CM-802AKG LACM, an expor t version that
can strike both land and ship targets from fighters or bombers.
Ground Attack Munitions: The PLAAF has a small number of tactical
air-to-surface missiles (ASuM) types as well as precision-guided munitions
including all-weather, satellite-guided bombs, anti-radiation missiles and
laser-guided bombs. China is developing smaller-sized ASuM such as the
AR-1, HJ-10 anti-tank, Blue Arrow 7 laser-guided and KD-2 missiles in
conjunction with its increasing development of weaponised unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAV). Additionally, China is also adapting GPS-guided
munitions such as the FT-5 and LS-6 , that are similar to the US Joint Direct
Attack Munition, to UAVs.
Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles: The PLAN is deploying a wide range of
advanced ASCMs. The most capable include the domestically produced
ship-launched YJ-62 ASCM and the Russian SS-N -22/Sunburn
supersonic ASCM, which is fitted on China’s Sovremenny-class DDGs
acquired from Russia. China’s submarine force is also increasing its ASCM
capability, with the long-range YJ-18 ASCM replacing the older YJ-82 on
the Song, Yuan and Shang classes. The YJ-18 is similar to the Russian SS-
N-27B/Sizzler ASCM, which is capable of supersonic terminal sprint and
is fielded on eight of China’s t welve Russian-built Kilo-class submarines.
In addition, PLAN Aviation employs the 200km range YJ-83K ASCM on
its JH-7 and H-6G aircraft. China has also developed the YJ-12 ASCM for
the PLAN, which provides an increased threat to naval assets due to its
long-range and supersonic speeds. It is capable of being launched from
Anti-Radiation Weapons: China is star ting to integrate an indigenous
version of the Russian Kh-31P (AS-17), known as the YJ-91, into its
fighter-bomber force. China may have developed an air-to-air version for
use against AWAC and AAR aircraft. The PLA impor ted Israeli-made Harpy
UAVs and Russian-made anti-radiation missiles during the 1990s.
Artillery-Delivered High Precision Munitions: The PLA is developing
or deploying ar tiller y systems with the range to strike targets within or even
across the Taiwan Strait, including the PHL-03 300mm multiple-rocket
launcher (MRL; greater than 100km range) and the longer-range AR-3
dual-calibre MRL (out to 220km range) .
Source: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of
China 2015, US DoD
PLA’S PRECISION STRIKE ARSENAL
In the background and largely behind the curtain, China
continues its work on counter-space, offensive cyber operations
and electronic warfare capabilities intended to deny adversaries
the advantages of modern, information-centric warfare in which
the West currently has marked superiority.
China also is focused on enhancing the PLA’s intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, which will enable
improved targeting and timely responses to perceived threats.
It is highly likely the PLAAF’s fleet of IL-78 Midas AAR aircraft will
grow from the current initial three units. Images: Internet
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