03 September 2015

Showtime: China Reveals Two “Carrier-Killer” Missiles

Andrew S. Erickson,Showtime: China Reveals Two ‘Carrier-Killer’ Missiles,” The National Interest, 3 September 2015.

Republished on RealClearDefense.

“There was nothing subtle about the parade or its showcasing of Chinese military hardware.”

Yesterday’s Beijing V-Day parade addressed multiple audiences. Among them, clearly—the U.S. Navy, the U.S. military writ large and their regional allied and partner counterparts. After years of foreign speculation and surprising skepticism about an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), China has for the first time officially revealed two variants: the DF-21D and DF-26.

There were other hardware firsts, with DF-16 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) also revealed for the first time (the latter an air-launched missile on a display truck for parading purposes). The DF-5B ICBM officially confirmed as a “MIRV-ed nuclear missile” (分导核导弹), with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles that can greatly complicate its intercept by ballistic missile defenses. What makes these displays particularly significant: all the missiles on parade are currently in PLA service. That explains why China’s DF-41 ICBM and YJ-18 ASCM were nowhere to be found—they are not yet deployed. Otherwise, by raising concerns without demonstrating credible capabilities, China would risk reaping “the onus without the bonus.” A tremendous non-hardware-related announcement provided greater context: Xi Jinping’s statement in his speech at the parade, “I announce that China will reduce military personnel numbers by 300,000.” But what is arguably most significant in hardware terms is that Beijing used this high-profile occasion to reveal not one but two different ASBMs—both already deployed by China’s Second Artillery Force (SAF). …

Related analysis: 

Andrew S. Erickson, “Missile March: China Parade Projects Patriotism at Home, Aims for Awe Abroad,” China Real Time Report (中国实时报), Wall Street Journal, 3 September 2015.

Andrew S. Erickson, “Sweeping Change in China’s Military: Xi’s PLA Restructuring,”China Real Time Report (中国实时报), Wall Street Journal, 2 September 2015.

China Military Parade—3 September 2015—Your Complete Hardware & Logistics Guide (Updated Version)