Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR AUG 2015 Contents TECHNOLOGY FOCUS
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 12 | AUG 2015
China has given considerable priority to land-based ballistic and
cruise missile programs aimed at extending the PLA’s surface
(land and sea) strike capabilities against targets further from
the mainland. This priority has taken the form of development
and testing of several new classes and variants of offensive strike
missiles, forming additional missile units, upgrade of legacy
missile systems and resourcing the development of ballistic
missile defence systems.
The PLA’s Second Artillery Force has deployed at least 1,200
short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) to locations across from
Taiwan and also has a significant number of medium-range
ballistic missiles (MRBM). Advanced cruise missiles are also
being fielded, including the ground-launched CJ-10 land attack
cruise missile (LACM).
Coupled with the CJ-10 is an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM)
based on a variant of the CSS-5/DF-21D medium-range ballistic
missile and which was first fielded in 2010: the CSS-5 Mod 5.
“This missile provides the PLA the capability to attack aircraft
carriers in the western Pacific,” concludes the report. “ The CSS-
5 Mod 5 has a range exceeding 1,500km and is armed with a
manoeuvrable warhead. China also deploys the land-attack CSS-5
Mod 4, holding at risk targets on Okinawa and mainland Japan,
and is reportedly developing an intermediate-range ballistic
missile (IRBM) capable of holding US forces on Guam at risk.”
Dubbed the carrier killer, the CSS-5 Mod 5/DF-21D has an
estimated unit cost of US$5-$10 million (AUD$6.7-$13.5 million)
according to the US Naval War College.
The PLA Navy (PLAN) continues to develop and deploy ship,
submarine and aircraft-launched ASCMs, both Russian and
Chinese-built, in order to extend its strike range. There is also
concern that China may develop the capability to arm the new
Luyang III-Class guided missile destroyers (DDG) with LACMs,
giving the PLAN its first sea-based land-attack capability.
The 2014 deployment of the Song and Shang-class
submarines, equipped with ASCMs, supporting counter-piracy
patrols underscore China’s interest in protecting sea lines of
communications beyond the South China Sea, therefore making
support of power projection into the Indian Ocean possible.
The PLAN’s increasingly modern surface combatant and
submarine fleets include advanced missile and technological
capabilities that will strengthen the force’s core warfighting
competencies and enable credible combat operations beyond the
reaches of land-based defences.
Moreover, China’s current aircraft carrier and planned follow-
on ships will extend air defence umbrellas beyond the range of
coastal systems and help enable task group operations in “far
seas”, to use a term from Chinese leadership.
Sea-based land attack is also seen as an emerging requirement
for the PLAN, with Chinese military experts arguing that in order
to pursue a defensive strategy in far seas, the PLAN must improve
its ability to control land from the sea through long-range LACM
The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) is continuing to improve its
capability to conduct offensive and defensive offshore operations
including strike, air and missile defence, strategic mobility, early
warning and reconnaissance missions.
The development of stealth aircraft technology and a number
of reportedly stealthy combat aircraft designs such as the
J-20 and J-31 and the Lijian unmanned combat air vehicle is
continuing and maturing toward initial fielding and/or first flight
The PLAAF’s latest H-6K bomber has a reported combat radius
of 3,500km and the ability to carry six CJ-20 LACM (air launched
version of the CJ-10), providing a not insignificant stand-off
offensive strike capability. The H-6M model also has the ability to
carry LACM, in this case two KD-20/K-AKD-20 with a range of
The acquisition of three IL-78 Midas air-to-air refuelling (AAR)
aircraft will increase the PLAAF’s ability to extend the range of
both fighter and strike aircraft operating over the East China Sea
and South China Sea.
Recognising its deficiency in strategic airlift, testing of the
new Y-20 heav y-lift jet transport aircraft continues following
its first flight in January 2013. In addition to being China’s
first indigenous heav y lift jet transport, the Y-20 could also be
configured to undertake additional missions such as airborne
warning and control (AWAC) and AAR.
TOP: The CJ-10 land attack cruise missile seen here on a truck-
ABOVE: The ground-launched CSS-5 Mod 5 (Mod 3 shown) anti-
ship ballistic missile – also known as the DF-21D – has the ability
to hit carriers in the western Pacific, the Pentagon says.
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