11 July 2013

National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) Issues 2013 “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat” Report

National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, 2013).

Click here to read the full text of the report.

Hans Kristensen’s evaluation can be accessed here.

Issued four years after the previous iteration, this detailed report is to be welcomed. Perhaps due to the vagaries of bureaucratic processes, it may not mesh perfectly with other official statements, but the data are numerous and no other single source puts them all together like this. The matrices offering specific numbers of each type of missile are particularly useful.

Here’s the China-relevant text from the report (I’ve highlighted what I view as the most important points):

China has the most active and diverse ballistic missile development program in the world. It is developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading missile systems, and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses. The Chinese ballistic missile force is expanding in both size and types of missiles. China continues to field conventionally armed SRBMs opposite Taiwan, and is developing a number of new mobile, conventionally armed MRBMs. Missiles such as the CSS-5 ASBM are key components of the Chinese military modernization program, specifically designed to prevent adversary military forces’ access to regional conflicts. China is adding the CSS-10 Mod 2 (DF-31A) to the ICBM force and future ICBMs could utilize multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). The number of Chinese ICBM nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States could expand to well over 100 within the next 15 years. The new JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is also under development.”

China has deployed a very large force of modern solid-propellant SRBMs in the vicinity of Taiwan, and according to Taiwanese government officials, China has recently started to deploy a new SRBM known as the Dong Feng 16 (DF-16/CSS-11 Mod 1).”

“China continues to maintain regional nuclear deterrence, and its long-term, comprehensive military modernization is improving the capability of its ballistic missile force to conduct high-intensity, regional military operations, including ‘anti-access and area denial’ (A2/AD) operations. The term A2/AD refers to capabilities designed to deter or counter adversary forces from deploying to or operating within a defined space. Currently, China deploys the nuclear armed CSS-2, CSS-5 Mod 1, and CSS-5 Mod 2 for regional nuclear deterrence. China is also acquiring new conventionally armed CSS-5 MRBMs to conduct precision strikes. These systems are likely intended to hold at-risk or strike logistics nodes, regional military bases including airfields and ports, and naval assets. Notably, China has likely started to deploy the DF-21D, an ASBM based on a variant of the CSS-5.”

China is strengthening its strategic nuclear deterrent force with the development and deployment of new ICBMs. China retains a relatively small number of nuclear armed, liquid-propellant CSS-3 limited range ICBMs and CSS-4 ICBMs capable of reaching the United States. It is also modernizing its nuclear forces by adding more survivable, road-mobile delivery systems. Both the road-mobile, solid-propellant CSS-10 Mod 1 and the longer range CSS-10 Mod 2 ICBMs have been deployed to units within the Second Artillery Corps. The CSS-10 Mod 1 is capable of reaching targets throughout Europe, Asia, and parts of Canada and the northwestern United States. The longer range CSS-10 Mod 2 will allow targeting of most of the continental United States. China may also be developing a new road-mobile ICBM capable of carrying a MIRV payload, and the number of warheads on Chinese ICBMs capable of threatening the United States is expected to grow to well over 100 in the next 15 years.”

“China currently has a single XIA Class SSBN that is intended to carry 12 CSS-NX-3/JL-1 missiles. In addition, China will deploy the new CSS-NX-14/JL-2 SLBM on new 12-tube JIN Class SSBNs. This missile will, for the first time, allow Chinese SSBNs to target portions of the United States from operating areas located near the Chinese coast.”

China is producing technologically advanced ballistic missiles and has sold ballistic missile  technology to other countries. China has an extensive theater missile program and has deployed a  large force of ballistic missiles in the vicinity of Taiwan. China is expanding the reach of this force to attempt to prevent foreign powers from becoming involved in any future regional conflict. China can already target the United States with a relatively small force of ICBMs. Its ICBM force will grow quantitatively and qualitatively.”


For the latest analysis on China’s ASBM development, see:

Andrew S. Erickson, How China Got There First: Beijing’s Unique Path to ASBM Development and Deployment,” Jamestown Foundation China Brief 13.12 (7 June 2013).

Andrew S. Erickson, Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Development: Drivers, Trajectories, and Strategic Implications, Jamestown Occasional Paper (Washington, DC: Jamestown Foundation, May 2013).

Andrew S. EricksonChina Channels Billy Mitchell: Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Alters Region’s Military Geography,” Jamestown Foundation China Brief 13.5 (4 March 2013).