China needs more nuclear warheads to deter US threat, military says
Commentary says the existing stockpile is big enough to prevent ‘bullying’ but should be expanded as Washington changes strategy
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 9:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 11:27pm
26 Jan 2018
China must expand its nuclear stockpile so it can better deter and hit back at an enemy strike as geopolitical uncertainties mount and the US appears bent on a nuclear build-up, according to the Chinese military’s mouthpiece.
In the PLA Daily on Tuesday, a commentary said China had enough nuclear weapons to prevent “bullying” by other nuclear powers but still needed to respond to changes in US strategy.
“To enhance China’s strategic counterbalance in the region and maintain China’s status as a great power, and protect national security, China has to beef up and develop a reliable nuclear deterrence capability,” it said.
It also said China would still stick to the “no first use” doctrine, meaning there were no circumstances in which it would be the first to use nuclear weapons.
The commentary comes as the administration of US President Donald Trump is expected to unveil its new military weapons policy later this week.
A leaked draft of the document says Washington will ramp up new nuclear projects and deploy more “low yield” nuclear bombs, according to the Huffington Post.
Military analysts said China was poised to increase its own arsenal of nuclear warheads but there were no plans to rival the United States.
Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said China only needed to add about 100 warheads to its stockpile to counter threats from the US and India.
“Nuclear weapons are hugely expensive to maintain and China is very pragmatic. Beijing will not spend too much money on an arms race,” Zhou said.
China has never declared the scale of its nuclear stockpile but the Washington-based Arms Control Association puts the country’s total at 270 warheads, the fourth-biggest of the five main nuclear states. Russia has 7,000, the US 6,800, France 300 and Britain 215, the association estimates.
Song Zhongping, a former member of the People’s Liberation Army’s Second Artillery Corps, the predecessor to the PLA Rocket Force, said China needed to have several hundred nuclear warheads deployed at all times.
“[But] it does not need as many as its US and Russian counterparts,” Song said.
“China can assemble many nuclear weapons in a short time if there is a war. The PLA’s ultimate goal is to strengthen the effectiveness of its nuclear counterstrike power.”
The US and Russia have reversed decades of non-proliferation efforts to modernise and possibly expand their nuclear weapons arsenals.
The US is developing at least six new-generation nuclear weapons, including various missiles, the B-21 Raider long-range stealth strategic bomber to deliver conventional or thermonuclear weapons, and a more advance nuclear submarine.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said earlier this month that the bulk of his country’s nuclear arms should be upgraded over the next few years, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.
China fires up advanced hypersonic missile challenge to US defences
New warhead glide technology could one day be used to take out controversial THAAD anti-missile system, military analyst says
PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 January, 2018, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2018, 10:34am
China’s new “hypersonic” ballistic missiles will not only challenge the defences of the United States but also be able to more accurately hit military targets in Japan and India, according to Chinese military specialists.
The assessment comes after Tokyo-based The Diplomatmagazine reported that China’s rocket forces conducted two tests late last year of a new “hypersonic glide vehicle”, or HGV, known as the DF-17, citing US intelligence sources.
HGVs are unmanned, rocket-launched, manoeuvrable aircraft that glide and “skip” through the earth’s atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds.
Compared to conventional ballistic systems, HGV warheads can travel at much higher speeds, lower altitudes and less-trackable trajectories. The approach leaves defence systems less time to intercept the warhead before it drops its payload.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force carried out the first test on November 1 and the second one two weeks later, the report said.
Both tests were successful and the DF-17 could be operational by around 2020, the US intelligence sources were quoted as saying.
Chinese military specialists said the DF-17 was one of several iterations of glider systems developed by the PLA, including the DF-ZF which has been through at least seven tests.
Song Zhongping, a former member of the PLA’s Second Artillery Corps, the rocket wing’s predecessor, said the DF-17 was the weaponised model of the DF-ZF prototype.
Song, a military commentator for Hong Kong’s Phoenix Television, said the HGV system could be used with various kinds of ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles with a range of at least 5,500km.
He also said multiple HGV warheads could be used with the DF-41, which has a range of at least 12,000km and can hit anywhere in the US in less than an hour.
Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said HGVs could also be used to target and destroy a US anti-missile system known as THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defence.
South Korea installed the THAAD anti-missile system last year to ward off dangers from North Korea’s nuclear programme but China also sees THAAD as a threat to its own defences.
“China’s HGVs … could destroy the THAAD radar system if there is war between the two countries,” Wong said.
“Once the THAAD radars fail to function in the first stage, it could reduce the window to raise the alarm about the PLA’s [ICBMs] … leaving the US without enough time to intercept.”
The DF-17 test missiles were launched from the Jiuquan launch centre in Inner Mongolia and flew about 1,400km during the trial, The Diplomat reported.
Chinese state media first reported on the country’s HGV technology in October, with footage of the system in a hypersonic wind tunnel in various arrays.
Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said HGV technology had become part of the nuclear strategy between the world’s three big nuclear powers: China, the US and Russia.
“Compared to conventional ballistic missiles, HGVs are more complex and difficult to intercept,” Zhou said.
“The US, Japan and India should be worried about China’s developments in HGV technology because it can reach targets quicker and more accurately, with military bases in Japan and even nuclear reactors in India being targeted.”
Song and Zhou said the US and Russia were also developing hypersonic glider technology, but the US trailed China and Russia in some areas because it had focused on more advanced hypersonic aircraft and put HGV development on hold for years.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: china’s new missile will challenge U.S. defence
China enlists top scientists in mission to become military tech superpower
Experts from within the military to work for its top research institute as China modernises its armed forces to give them cutting-edge equipment and arms
PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 8:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 11:33pm
China has gathered 120 researchers from around the military to work for its top research institute as part of a push to develop military applications for artificial intelligence and quantum technology, state media reported.
The military has selected the researchers from across armed forces’ commands to join the Chinese Academy of Military Science, the highest-level research institute of the People’s Liberation Army, according to the PLA Daily.
More than 95 per cent of the new recruits enlisted into the academy hold PhD degrees and are highly specialised in certain fields, particularly artificial intelligence assisted unmanned vehicles and quantum technology, the report said.
Analysts said the recruitment was part of China’s efforts to become a military technological superpower and to catch up with the technical superiority of US armed forces.
President Xi Jinping has launched a massive overhaul and modernisation of the country’s military and he said in a speech given to the military science academy last July that China should aim at building world-class military technology institutes.
Collin Koh, a military expert at the maritime security programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said: “PLA quests in these tech fields are motivated by the US or the West in general.
“China has a long-term desire to be on a par with these leaders in military tech, both for national defence purposes and to position itself also as a global arms supplier.”
He added that China hoped breakthroughs in technology could counter US military dominance in the Asia-Pacific region.
“China’s quest into these military tech fields is also in line with its military strategy and posture, which looks at nullifying via asymmetrical means the general US military superiority in envisaged regional flashpoints such as the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
A group led Pan Jianwei at the University of Science and Technology of China is one of the teams heading China’s research into quantum technology. The research can involve developing applications that take advantage of scientists’ increasing understanding of how the world works at a subatomic level, through particles smaller than atoms and electrons.
Analysts believe China could gain a military advantage if it manages to apply any breakthroughs in quantum technology for use by its armed forces.
Ben Ho, a researcher at the military studies programme at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said: “One key benefit is that it enables the user to have better sensors and concomitantly, greater situational awareness.
“Information is king in the modern battle and the side with the better picture would have a clear edge over its opponent. After all, you cannot fight what you cannot see,” said Ho.
China successfully launched the world’s first satellite in August 2016 to test ways of using quantum technology to communicate from space.
It is also using quantum research to develop a new type of satellite that can track targets that are currently invisible from space, such as stealth bombers taking off at night.
Ho added that quantum technology and computers could in the coming years also help crack the encrypted codes of adversaries.