Chinese Missile Systems : Discussions


Staff member
Nov 30, 2017
New thread on Chinese missile developments.

China now has two anti-ship supersonic cruise missiles for export:

Chaoxun-1 (CX-1)

The CX-1 is a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) that can travel up to Mach 2.8-3 at an altitude of 17,000 m (56,000 ft). It travels along a low-high-low flight profile and has a range of 40–280 km (25–174 mi; 22–151 nmi) using a two-stage booster, descending to 10 meters above the water when 10 km (6.2 mi; 5.4 nmi) from the target. The 260 kg (570 lb) warhead has a 20 m (66 ft) circular error probability (CEP)

YJ-12 (CM-302)

The Chinese YJ-12E, also known as CM-302, is a supersonic, anti-ship, cruise missile developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC). The CM-302 missile has a maximum range of 290 kilometers carrying a 250 kg warhead with a kill probability of 90 percent. The missile is an export version of the YJ-12 missile and was unveiled at the Zuhai Air Show in November 2016.

These are based on russian P-800 Oniks and P-270 Moskit designs respectively.
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Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
New Delhi
Chinese DF-26 Missile Launchers Deploy To New Missile Training Area

Posted on Jan.21, 2019 in Arms Control, ballistic missiles, China, Nuclear Weapons by Hans M. Kristensen

By Hans M. Kristensen

[Updated] Earlier this month, the Chinese government outlet Global Times published a report that a People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) unit with the new DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile had carried out an exercise in the “Northwest China’s plateau and desert areas.” The article made vague references to a program previously aired on China’s CCTV-7 that showed a column of DF-26 launchers and support vehicles driving on highways, desert roads, and through mountain streams.
As it turns out, the exercise may have been west of Beijing, but the actual location is in upper Central China. Several researchers (for example Sean O’Connor) have been attempting to learn more about the unit. By combining scenes from the CCTV-7 program with various satellite imagery sources, I was able to geolocate the DF-26s to the S218 highway (39.702137º, 105.731469º) outside the city of Jilantai (Jilantaizhen) roughly 100 km north of Alxa in the Inner Mogolia province in the northern part of central China (see image below).

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The DF-26s appear to have been visiting a new missile training area established by PLARF since 2015. By combining use of Google Earth, Planet, and Terra Server, each of which has unique capabilities needed to scan vast areas and identifying individual facilities, as well as analyzing images purchased from Digital Globe, I have so far been able to identify more than 100 launch pads used by launchers and support vehicles during exercises, a support base, a landing strip, and at least eight launch unit camp sites covering an area of more than 1,000 square kilometers (400 square miles) along a 90-kilometer (55-mile) corridor (see image below).

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The Chinese military has for decades been operating a vast missile training area further west in the Qinghai province, which I profiled in an article a decade ago. They also appear to operate a training area further west near Korla (Beyingol). The best unclassified guide for following Chinese missile units is, of course, the indispensable PLA Rocket Force Leadership and Unit Reference produced by Mark Stokes at the Project 2049 Institute.

It is not clear if the DF-26 unit that exercised in the Jilantai training area is or will be permanently based in the region. It is normal for Chinese missile units to deploy long distances from their home base for training. The first brigade (666 Brigade) is thought to be based some 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) to the southeast near Xinyang in southern Henan province. This was not the first training deployment of the brigade. The NASIC reported in 2017that China had 16+ DF-26 launchers and it is building more. The CCTV-7 video shows an aerial view of a launch unit camp with TEL tents, support vehicles, and personnel tents. A DF-26 is shown pulling out from under a camouflage tent and setting up on a T-shaped concrete launch pad (see image below). More than 100 of those pads have been identified in the area.

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The support base at the training area does not have the outline of a permanent missile brigade base. But several satellite images appear to show the presence of DF-16, DF-21, and DF-26 launchers at this facility. One image purchased from Digital Globe and taken by one of their satellites on October 24, 2018, shows the base under construction with what appears to be two DF-16 launchers (h/t @reutersanders) parked between two garages. Another photo taken on August 16, 2017, shows what appears to be 22 DF-21C launchers with a couple of possible DF-26 launchers as well (see below).

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The DF-26, which was first officially displayed in 2015, fielded in 2016, and declared in service by April 2018, is an intermediate-range ballistic missile launched from a six-axle road-mobile launchers that can deliver either a conventional or nuclear warhead to a maximum distance of 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles). From the 666 Brigade area near Xinyang, a DF-26 IRBM could reach Guam and New Delhi (see map below). China has had the capability to strike Guam with the nuclear DF-4 ICBM since 1980, but the DF-4 is a moveable, liquid-fuel missiles that takes a long time to set up, while the DF-26 is a road-mobile, solid-fuel, dual-capable missile that can launch quicker and with greater accuracy. Moreover, DF-26 adds conventional strike to the IRBM range for the first time.

Click on map to view full size
The 666 Brigade is in range of U.S. sea- and air-launched cruise missiles as well as ballistic missiles. But the DF-26 is part of China’s growing inventory of INF-range missiles (most of which, by far, are non-nuclear), a development that is causing some in the U.S. defense community to recommend the United States should withdraw from the INF treaty and deploy quick-launch intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the Western Pacific. Others (including this author) disagree, saying current and planned U.S. capabilities are sufficient to meet national security objectives and that engaging China in an INF-race would make things worse.
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Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
New Delhi
YJ-18C: the new "containerized" Chinese anti-ship missile?

We know the two underwater versions, the YJ-18 and YJ-18B, an anti-ship that launched from torpedo tubes, the other vertical launch cruise missile for land targets. And we also know the YJ-18A, a Sea-Sea missile that fires the new destroyers of the Chinese navy such as the Type 052D and the Type 055. While we were waiting rather for a new version of ground attack for the ships of surface, as indicated more than a year ago in our file " What we know about the naval missile YJ-18 ... ", it is finally the variant "Container", supposed YJ-18C, which seems to be undergoing tests, at least if we believe what the American sources reveal recently.

In his March 27 article on the Free Beacon website , Bill GERTZ, journalist and reporter close to the American government, reveals the existence of this YJ-18C which can be "camouflaged" and launched from standard containers served in the transport goods.

The information relayed by GERTZ comes from US Defense officials, according to which this new Chinese missile, designed to hit targets on the ground, is currently in the trial phase. For the moment the Defense Intelligence Agency and the US Navy declined any comment.

On the Chinese side, no indication reveals the existence of such a system for the moment. The YJ-18 missile family and variants are designed by the 3rd Academy of the Chinese aerospace group CASIC, but so far there is no publicly available evidence of the development or preparation for testing of a containerized version, while traces have been listed for all other versions. The YJ-18C, unofficially, was a reference rather to the version for the shot on the ground.

There are still three Chinese documents, from various institutional sources, whose subject is approaching. The first, dated September 1, 2011, is written by two military engineers working for the Chinese Rocket Force, who analyze the impact of the appearance of the Club-K system, the "container" version of the 3M-54 system Kaliib . The second, published two months later in the same year, is on the same type of analysis and also on the same weapon but this time co-written by professors from the Academy of Chinese Naval Submarines .

The third document, meanwhile, was released in 2015 by several researchers from the Chinese Air Force, who carry out a risk assessment on the transport of missiles in containers. Given its content and also the organization of which the authors belong, it is very unlikely that the document has any connection with this hypothetical "YJ-18C" container version.

In the analysis of the first document, for example, the authors emphasized the basic application of the Club-K system, which is to use it as a "distributed" coastal defense, so that Enemy forces can not easily neutralize attack capabilities during an attack, and thus create a kind of "psychological deterrence" among the opponent's decision-makers.

Regarding the impact generated by the introduction of this type of system, the Chinese study first mentions a possible proliferation of missile weapons that can not be, or at least with difficulty, controlled. Secondly, it warns any party considering using such weapons to properly assess the risk of introducing this ambiguity between a purely military target and a civilian target, such as a port or a merchant ship, which adds new challenges to both parties, including and especially the one that holds such a "militarized container".

The study done by the Chinese submariners Academy broadly shares the same observations as their colleagues from the Rocket Force, but points out that such a weapon is not necessarily "immoral", drawing a parallel between the appearance of the Club-K system and that of the submarines.

  • The Russian Club-K system (Image: Internet)
  • Container SR-5 from the NORINCO Group
It should be noted that containerization of missile systems is not exclusive to Russia. In the early 2000s, DARPA and the US Army had funded container missile studies known as NLOS-LS or NetFires. The program was canceled in January 2011, the rather mediocre performance of the tests would be the main cause.

In Europe, the Finnish company Patria has also developed the "Nemo" system , a 120mm mortar installed in a 20-foot container. The naval force of the United Arab Emirates would be the main interested party.

Since 2016, the Chinese armaments group NORINCO has been offering its new containerized rocket launcher SR-5 system for export. The system stands in a standard 40-foot container and includes a control compartment, refills and launcher. At least three types of ammunition - 70km guided rocket, 140km anti-ship missile and 200km ballistic missile - can be integrated into the system.

The 20 countries with the largest container ship fleets in the world in 2018 (Source: United Nations)
As for the "ground attack cruise missile YJ-18C", as the US sources have mentioned, its allocation to the scale by the Chinese army is seriously lacking motivation. On the one hand because China already has so far many ground attack capabilities and most are already mobile, that is to say, potentially less vulnerable. On the other hand, it must be remembered that China holds one of the largest container ship fleets in the world, which is vital for its economy and development.

To introduce an ambiguity in its own vital logistic lines and to risk retaliation on the installations or civil means, for offensive operations, while the country continues to increase its naval platforms capable of delivering these same capacities, seems not only unjustified but especially unlikely.

On the other hand, it is not excluded that a limited number of these containers, in coastal and anti-ship defense, may exist as complementary means. But even that does not seem to be the priority of the moment, given the already very substantial devices deployed and renewed since the 90 '.
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Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
Chinese Z-10A Attack Helicopter Shows Off New Missile During Live-Fire Exercise
Video has emerged from China showing Z-10A attack helicopters from the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force launching what’s reportedly a new type of missile during a live-fire exercise. The footage appeared online after screengrabs showing the new air-to-surface weapon were posted on social media last week. These first images originated from the state-owned China Central Television 13 (CCTV 13) channel and showed crews loading the missiles onto four-round racks on the Z-10A’s outboard stub-wing hardpoints before they were launched at an undisclosed location.

The missiles engaged a variety of armored vehicle targets, including tanks. The range at which these were knocked out is likely indicative of a fire-and-forget weapon and the use of Z-10As in combination with at least one Z-19A suggests that the latter type may have provided targeting data using its mast-mounted millimeter-wave (MMW) radar, forming a hunter-killer team.

Interestingly, China military expert Andreas Rupprecht, who goes by @RupprechtDeino on Twitter, has suggested that the weapon may already have completed its development and is now in frontline use — or, at least, is undergoing the final phase of pre-service trials.

The anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) bears some resemblance to the China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) Blue Arrow 21 (BA-21), a weapon that’s thought to have a range of around 11 miles and guidance based on a dual-mode millimeter-wave radar/semi-active laser seeker.

Offered for export at Airshow China at Zhuhai in 2018, the helicopter-launched BA-21 is reportedly an enhanced derivative of the AKD-10 missile that is used by the PLAGF’s Z-10 and Z-19 attack rotorcraft and that is broadly equivalent to the U.S. AGM-114 Hellfire. The Chinese missile has a reported range of around 4.3 miles. While the initial AKD-10 employed semi-active laser guidance, later iterations of the weapon reportedly incorporate an MMW seeker.

Previously, a drone-launched BA-21 version was displayed at Zhuhai in 2016, intended as part of the armory of the Wing Loong II unmanned combat air vehicle, among others.

As well as two missiles on each of the four-round launchers, the Z-10As were also seen carrying unidentified pods mounted below the weapons. The function of this store is unclear, but it has some similarities with training pods used by other helicopters to simulate targets for engagement as well as hits to the aircraft itself.

Another possibility is that these pods contain data-link equipment, which would potentially allow targeting data to be handed from the Z-19A and then passed on to the missile once launched by the Z-10A. This would allow a single radar-equipped helicopter to provide targeting coordinates for multiple Z-10As.

Still, such a system would not offer the same ‘fire-and-forget’ capability that the Apache Longbow system provides.

The launching helicopter would have to maintain line-of-sight for a period of time after launch.

Finally, it could be some kind of independent radar illuminator for self-targeting the radio-frequency-guided missiles, but it would probably have to be tied to the helicopter’s electro-optical system, which would seem to defeat the point to some degree.

In addition to employing a new missile, the PLAGF’s Z-10 has recently been active in the maritime domain, with deck trials on board a Type 072A landing ship of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), reportedly conducted in the Taiwan Strait.

The Changhe Aircraft Industries Group Z-10 — locally named Pi Li Huo, or Thunderbolt — is the PLAGF’s first modern attack helicopter, first flown in April 2003 and entering service in pre-production form in late 2010.

Before the emergence of this new missile, its main weapons were understood to be eight AKD-9 or AKD-10 ATGMs, plus a 23mm cannon and various rocket pods. It can also be armed with PL-90 air-to-air missiles. Primary sensors are a WXG1006 package in the nose that contains a forward-looking infrared, TV camera, laser rangefinder, and laser designator. The definitive production version for the PLAGF is the Z-10A that incorporates some detailed changes in terms of the targeting system and, perhaps, features uprated engines.

The Z-19, meanwhile, which was seen in the video working alongside the Z-10, was developed by the Harbin Aircraft
Industry Group as a light scout/attack helicopter. First flown in May 2010, it reportedly entered service in 2012 and is named Hei Xuan Feng, or Black Cyclone. As well as KD-9 or KD-10 ATGMs and PL-90 AAMs, it can be armed with gun pods and rockets. The definitive Z-19A version is fitted with a mast-mounted MMW phased-array radar, making it an ideal complement to the Z-10 for armed reconnaissance and target designation. It can use this system to locate, classify, prioritize, and engage targets in any weather, day or night. In this case, it may now be able to data-link those targets to a nearby Z-10.

Rupprecht identifies the Z-10As and Z-19As in the video as belonging to the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force’s (PLAGF) 161st Air Assault Brigade, which is assigned to the 83rd Group Army. The brigade is headquartered at Xinxiang, in Henan province and is part of the Central Theater Command.

While we await more details about the Z-10A’s new missile, it’s clear that the People’s Liberation Army is continuing to make serious efforts to improve the capabilities of its attack helicopter fleet — and at the same time, it seems to be refining its concept of operations.


Senior member
Dec 4, 2017

China is building more than 100 new missile silos in its western desert, analysts say​

Researchers using commercial satellite images spotted 119 construction sites where they say China is building silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles. The image has been annotated to show site locations. (Planet/Center for Nonproliferation Studies)
Joby Warrick
June 30, 2021 at 8:25 p.m. GMT+1

China has begun construction of what independent experts say are more than 100 new silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles in a desert near the northwestern city of Yumen, a building spree that could signal a major expansion of Beijing’s nuclear capabilities.

Commercial satellite images obtained by researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif., show work underway at scores of sites across a grid covering hundreds of square miles of arid terrain in China’s Gansu province. The 119 nearly identical construction sites contain features that mirror those seen at existing launch facilities for China’s arsenal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.
The acquisition of more than 100 new missile silos, if completed, would represent a historic shift for China, a country that is believed to possess a relatively modest stockpile of 250 to 350 nuclear weapons. The actual number of new missiles intended for those silos is unknown but could be much smaller. China has deployed decoy silos in the past.

During the Cold War, the United States developed a plan to move its ICBMs across a matrix of silos in a kind of nuclear shell game, to ensure that Soviet war planners could never know exactly where the missiles were at any given time.
The construction boom suggests a major effort to bolster the credibility of China’s nuclear deterrent, said researcher Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on China’s nuclear arsenal and part of a team that analyzed the suspicious sites, first spotted by colleague Decker Eveleth as he scoured photos taken by commercial satellites over northwestern China. Lewis described the scale of the building spree as “incredible.”
“If the silos under construction at other sites across China are added to the count, the total comes to about 145 silos under construction,” Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, part of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said in a summary of his findings provided to The Washington Post. “We believe China is expanding its nuclear forces in part to maintain a deterrent that can survive a U.S. first strike in sufficient numbers to defeat U.S. missile defenses.”
Analysis: China contributing to ‘Cold War mentality’
The discovery follows recent warnings by Pentagon officials about rapid advances in China’s nuclear capability. Adm. Charles Richard, who commands U.S. nuclear forces, said at a congressional hearing in April that a “breathtaking expansion” was underway in China, including an expanding arsenal of ICBMs and new mobile missile launchers that can be easily hidden from satellites. In addition, the Chinese navy has introduced new nuclear-weapons-capable submarines to its growing fleet.
A commercial satellite photo taken Monday over northwestern China shows what experts say is a construction site for a new silo for a nuclear-tipped ICBM. The construction site is hidden under a 230-foot cover, a common concealment practice observed at other Chinese missile sites. (Planet/Center for Nonproliferation Studies)
The reported silo construction project could provide China with yet another means of concealing its most powerful weapons. The construction sites spotted on satellite photos are arrayed in two huge swaths, covering parts of a desert basin stretching to the west and southwest of Yumen, a city of 170,000 people along China’s ancient Silk Road.

Each site is separated from its neighbors by about two miles, and many of the sites are concealed by a large, dome-like covering, following a practice observed at known construction sites for missile silos in other parts of China. At sites where the dome is not in place, construction crews can be seen excavating a characteristic circular-shaped pit in the desert floor. Another construction site appears to be a partially built control center.
Lewis said the silos are probably intended for a Chinese ICBM known as the DF-41, which can carry multiple warheads and reach targets as far away as 9,300 miles, potentially putting the U.S. mainland within its reach. Major excavation work on the sites began early this year, although preparations were probably underway for months, Lewis said.
Emails and faxes seeking comment from China’s Foreign Ministry in Beijing and the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not receive a response.

A Defense Department spokesman declined to comment on the satellite images or to discuss U.S. intelligence assessments of China’s nuclear program. But the spokesman, John Supple, noted that Pentagon reports and analysts have previously raised concerns about the proliferation of China’s missile silos. “Defense Department leaders have testified and publicly spoken about China’s growing nuclear capabilities, which we expect to double or more over the next decade,” Supple said.
Missile silos are easily spotted by trained imagery analysts, and they are vulnerable to destruction by precision-guided missiles in the early hours of a nuclear war. For those reasons, Lewis sees the silo construction project as part of an expanded deterrent strategy by a country whose nuclear arsenal is dwarfed by those of the United States and Russia, which collectively possess more than 11,000 nuclear warheads.
Rather than engaging in an expensive arms race with Washington and Moscow, China has traditionally embraced a “limited deterrence” doctrine that prioritizes a lean but robust nuclear arsenal that ensures Beijing’s ability to retaliate against any adversary if attacked.
U.S.-China space race is heating up
In recent years, however, Chinese officials have complained that their country’s nuclear deterrent is losing credibility because of nuclear modernization programs proposed or already underway in Russia and the United States. Beijing has resisted calls to join new arms-control talks because of fears that new limits would forever enshrine its status as a second-rate nuclear power compared with Washington and Moscow.
Commercial satellite photos show suspected construction sites for missile silos in China. (Planet/Center for Nonproliferation Studies)
Photos of the Gansu construction project were supplied to Lewis and Eveleth by the commercial satellite company Planet, which provided a continuous stream of updated images showing progress at each of the construction sites over time. Based on his analysis, Lewis said, there was “a very good chance that China is planning a shell game” in which it hides a relatively small number of warheads across a network of silos. Still, he said, the sudden appearance of so many new launch sites could increase pressure on U.S. officials to speed up efforts to modernize the U.S. arsenal.

“We’re stumbling into an arms race that is largely driven by U.S. investments and missile defense,” Lewis said. The Pentagon has announced plans for an extensive upgrade of U.S. nuclear weapons and delivery systems over the next two decades, including a new air-launched cruise missile and at least two new types of warheads.
In February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed in a statement that the Biden administration would “pursue arms control to reduce the dangers from China’s modern and growing nuclear arsenal.” He did not explain how that goal would be accomplished but said the administration would seek “effective arms control that enhances stability, transparency and predictability while reducing the risks of costly, dangerous arms races.”

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