ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS
Military Power of the People's Republic of China
Military Power of the People's Republic of China
Force Modernization Goals and Trends
Force Modernization Goals and Trends
opportunities to achieve leapfrog development in national defense and army modernization."
- President Hu Jintao
"We should achieve developments by leaps and bounds in the modernization of
weaponry in our armed forces."
- General Li Jinai
China has stated its intentions and allocated resources to pursue a broad-based military buildup encompassing force-wide professionalization; improved training; more robust, realistic joint exercises; and the accelerated acquisition of modern weapons. The Intelligence Community estimates, however, that China will take until the end of this decade or later for its military modernization program to produce a modern force capable of defeating a moderate-size adversary. Recognizing this deficiency, China's leaders have placed a near-term emphasis on asymmetric programs and systems to leverage China's advantages while exploiting the perceived vulnerabilities of potential opponents - so-called Assassin's Mace (sha shou jian) programs.
As China's military expansion proceeds, its military forces seem focused on preventing Taiwan independence while preparing to compel the island to negotiate a settlement on Beijing's terms. As part of this effort, China seeks to deter or counter third-party intervention in any future cross-Strait crises. China's approach to dealing with Taiwan centers on developing what the 2006 QDR refers to as disruptive capabilities: forces and operational concepts aimed at preventing an adversary from deploying military forces to forward operating locations, and/or rapidly destabilizing critical military balances. It is the combination of weapons employed in coordinated operations that pose a disruptive threat, not individual technologies or new capabilities.
For example, evidence suggests the PLA is engaged in a sustained effort to interdict, at long ranges, aircraft carrier and expeditionary strike groups that might deploy to the western Pacific. Following the experience of U.S. intervention with carrier battle groups during the 1995 and 1996 Taiwan Strait crises, evidence suggests the Chinese military has invested in research, development, and technology acquisition oriented on anti-carrier operations. Similarly, China's placement of longrange SAM systems capable of providing coverage over Taiwan's airspace, combined with expansion of SRBM and amphibious forces, is introducing a destabilizing capability.
Consequently, as PLA modernization progresses, there are twin misperceptions that may lead to miscalculation or crisis. First, other countries may underestimate the extent to which Chinese forces have improved. Second, China's leaders may overestimate the proficiency of their forces by assuming that new systems are fully operational, adeptly operated, adequately supplied and maintained, and well integrated with existing or other new capabilities.
Emerging Area Denial Capability
China is developing forces and concepts focused on denying an adversary the ability to deploy to locations from which it can conduct military operations. Increasingly, China's area denial forces overlap, providing multiple layers of offensive capability.
PLA planners are focused on targeting surface ships and submarines at long ranges. Analysis of current and projected force structure improvements suggest that in the near term, China is seeking the capacity to hold surface ships at risk through a layered defense that reaches out to the "second island chain." China has expressed interest in developing naval anti-access capabilities that use a comprehensive C4ISR network to direct and coordinate naval, air, space, and missile forces.
One area of apparent investment involves the pursuit of medium-range ballistic missiles, an extensive C4ISR system for geo-location of targets, and onboard guidance systems for terminal homing to strike surface ships on the high seas or their onshore support infrastructure. This capability would have particular significance for regional stability, owing to the preemptive and coercive options that it would provide China's leaders.
A layered system to achieve local sea denial would also employ submarines, maritime strike aircraft, and modern surface combatants equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). China's development of numerous varieties of mines, its acquisition of the KILO, SONG, and YUANclass diesel submarines, and development of the SHANG-class SSN illustrate the importance the PLA is placing on undersea warfare in its pursuit of sea denial. The purchase of two new Russian SOVREMENNYY II-class DDGs and indigenous production of the LUYANG I/ LUYANG II DDGs equipped with long-range ASCM and SAM systems demonstrate a continuing emphasis on improving anti-surface warfare capabilities combined with mobile, wide-area air control.
China also appears to be emphasizing an anti-access role for its air forces. The PLA Navy Air Force (PLANAF), for instance, has recently purchased Russian Su-30MK2 fighters armed with AS-17/ KH-31A anti-ship missiles. The acquisition of IL-78/MIDAS and development of the indigenous B-6U refueling aircraft, integrated with strike aircraft armed with precision strike munitions will extend operational range for PLAAF and PLANAF aircraft, increasing the threat to surface and air forces at considerable distances off China's coasts. Additionally, Chinese acquisition of UAVs, including the Israeli HARPY and indigenous systems, provides additional options for long-range reconnaissance and strike.
Land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs), such as the DH-10 now under development, or special operations forces could be used to attack regional land bases. Strike aircraft, enabled by aerial refueling, could engage distant land targets using air-launched cruise missiles equipped with a variety of terminal homing warheads.
Chinese military analysts have concluded from studying U.S. and Coalition military operations over the last 15 years that logistics and mobilization are potential vulnerabilities in modern warfare, given the increased requirements for precisely coordinated transportation, communications, and logistics networks. PLA writings suggest a successful computer network attack against these systems could have a disruptive effect on an adversary's ability to generate its forces.
Strengthened Nuclear Deterrence
China is qualitatively and quantitatively improving its long-range nuclear missile force. China is pursuing strategic forces modernization to provide a credible, survivable nuclear deterrent and counterstrike capability in response to its perception of an increasingly complex nuclear security environment. The PLA Second Artillery is fielding mobile, more survivable missiles capable of targeting the United States, Japan, India, Russia, and other targets in Asia and the rest of the world. It currently deploys approximately 20 silo-based, liquid-fueled CSS-4 ICBMs, which constitute its primary nuclear means of holding continental U.S. targets at risk. In addition, it maintains approximately 20 liquid-fueled, limited range CSS-3 ICBMs that enable it to attack targets in the Asia region. China's "theater" nuclear force is made up of the CSS-2 IRBMs and solid-propellant, road-mobile CSS-5 MRBMs.
In its 2004 Defense White Paper, China declared that its nuclear strike forces have two missions: deterrence of a nuclear attack and nuclear retaliation. Beijing has consistently stated its adherence to a "no first use" nuclear doctrine, which is that China will never use nuclear weapons first against a nuclear weapons state, nor will China use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapons state or nuclear-free zone. Additional missions for China's nuclear forces include deterrence of conventional attacks against the Chinese mainland, reinforcing China's great power status, and increasing its freedom of action by limiting the extent to which others can coerce China.
By 2010, China's strategic nuclear forces will likely comprise a combination of enhanced silo-based CSS-4 ICBMs; CSS-3 ICBMs; CSS-5 MRBMs; solid-fueled, road-mobile mobile DF-31 (IOC in 2006) and DF-31A ICBMs (IOC 2007); and sea-based JL-1 and JL-2s SLBMs (IOC 2007-10).
Besides expanding China's inventory of nuclear ICBMs, the mobility of the new DF-31 and DF-31A ICBMs will make China's ICBM force more survivable. The JL-2 SLBM deployed aboard the JIN-class (Type 094) SSBN will provide China with an additional, survivable nuclear option. China will deploy several new conventional and nuclear variants of MRBMs and IRBMs for regional contingencies and to augment its long-range missile forces. China is also developing air- and groundlaunched cruise missiles that could have a nuclear capability.
Building Capacity for Precision Strike
PLA planners have observed the primacy of precision strike in modern warfare and are investing in both the offensive and defensive elements of this emerging regime. China is pursuing an array of improved ISR assets ranging from UAVs, constellations of various satellites, and more "informationalized" special operations forces. Such forces could provide targeting data for longrange precision strikes when linked by more robust communications systems.
The PLA envisions the use of precision strike to hold at risk such targets as western Pacific airbases, ports, surface combatants, land-based C4ISR and air defense systems, and command facilities. Most of the PLA units associated with precision strike are rapid reaction units and/or those that would likely lead any contingency operation around the mainland periphery.
- Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs) (conventionally armed). China's SRBM force constitutes the bulk of its precision strike capability. Its first-generation SRBMs do not possess true "precision strike" capability, but later generations have greater ranges and improved accuracy. According to DIA estimates as of late 2005, China's SRBM force totaled some 710-790 missiles, increasing at an average rate of about 100 missiles per year.
- Land-Attack Cruise Missiles (LACMs) (conventionally armed). China is developing LACMs to achieve greater precision than historically available from ballistic missiles for hard-target strikes, and increased standoff. A first- and second-generation LACM remain under development. There are no technological bars to placing a nuclear payload on these systems, once developed.
- Air-to-Surface Missiles (ASMs). China is believed to have a small number of tactical ASMs, and is pursuing foreign and domestic acquisitions to improve airborne anti-ship capabilities.
- Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs). The PLA Navy and PLANAF have or are acquiring nearly a dozen varieties of ASCMs, from the 1950s-era CSS-N-2/STYX to the modern Russian-made SS-N-22/SUNBURN and SS-N-27B/SIZZLER. The pace of indigenous ASCM research, development, and production - and of foreign procurement - has accelerated over the past decade.
- Anti-Radiation Weapons (ARMs). The size and scope of China's inventory of anti-radiation weapons - designed to acquire targets based on the targets' own radar emissions - remains unknown. The PLA has imported both the Israeli-made HARPY UAV and Russian-made anti-radiation missiles.
- Precision Artillery. The PLA is deploying increasingly long-range multiple rocket launcher (MRL) systems, including the A-100 300 mm MRL with a 100+ km range and developing the WS-2 400 mm MRL with a 200 km range. Additional precision-guided artillery munitions are being fielded or are under development.
Improving Expeditionary Operations
PLA expeditionary forces include three airborne divisions, two amphibious infantry divisions, two marine brigades, about seven special operations groups, and one regimental-size reconnaissance element in the Second Artillery. The capabilities of these units are steadily improving with the introduction of new equipment, improved unit-level tactics, and greater coordination of joint operations.
In addition to amphibious assaults, missions for these forces could include: special operations to facilitate amphibious operations and disrupt communications nodes, air defense and the movement of reserve forces reacting to amphibious operations; airborne assaults to seize airfields for follow-on infantry forces; and, reconnaissance to provide targeting information and battle damage assessments.
PLA ground forces in the Nanjing and Guangzhou Military Regions have received upgraded amphibious armor and other vehicles, such as tanks and armored personnel carriers, and may deploy additional armored vehicles and air-cushioned troop vehicles to improve lethality and speed for seaborne assaults. Airborne forces will likely receive priority use of the newly purchased IL-76/CANDIDs from Russia, and may acquire modern, armored vehicles that can be airdropped. The quality and quantity of army aviation training has increased in recent years. Army aviation regiments actively study and explore new fighting tactics and training methods to increase their joint operations capability.
The PLA has increased amphibious ship production to address its lift deficiencies; however, the Intelligence Community believes these increases alone will be inadequate to meet requirements. The PLA is also organizing its civilian merchant fleet and militia, which, given adequate notification, could augment organic lift in amphibious operations. Transport increases were accompanied by an increase of 25,000 troops, 200 tanks and 2,300 artillery pieces in the military regions opposite Taiwan, according to the latest figures from DIA. The increased troops and equipment in these military regions all appear capable of participating in expeditionary operations.
Expanding Air Defense
The PLA has shifted from point defense of key military, industrial, and political targets to a new Joint Anti-Air Raid Campaign doctrine based on a modern, integrated air defense system capable of effective offensive counter-air (OCA) and defensive counter-air (DCA). Under this doctrine, the PLA will use aircraft, surface-to-surface missiles, longrange artillery, special operations forces, naval forces, and guerrilla units to destroy an enemy's ability to conduct offensive air operations and provide comprehensive defense of PRC airspace. The most important aspect of the PLA's air defense development has been the acquisition and fielding of advanced, Russian-made SA-10 and SA-20 SAM systems and their placement along the Taiwan Strait. The PLA is also working to reverse-engineer a domestic variant of the SA-10 (the HQ-9) of equal capability. This year, the PLA is expected to field the extended range S-300PMU2, which will allow the Chinese to engage targets over Taiwan airspace.
The PLA Navy is acquiring new SOVREMENNYY II-class DDGs and LUYANG I/LUYANG II-class DDGs, which are scheduled to deploy with modern, long-range SAMs. These SAMs could form the basis for a mobile, sea-based air defense network to facilitate acquiring local air superiority during maritime operations.
In addition to these advanced missile systems, Beijing has acquired and deployed Russian-built and domestic fourth-generation tactical aircraft (e.g., Su-27 and Su-30 FLANKER variants, and the PLA's indigenous F-10). Newer aircraft equipped with advanced air-to-air missiles and electronic warfare technology give the PLAAF technological parity with or superiority over most potential adversaries.
Extended-Range Maritime Presence
Previously, China did not have the capability to maintain anything but symbolic naval presence on the approaches to the mainland. The PLA Navy, however, appears interested in expanding its presence through the Straits of Malacca and into the Indian Ocean. In 2005 Chinese naval vessels visited Pakistan, and for the first time conducted combined naval maneuvers outside their home waters.
At present, China's concept for sea denial appears limited to sea control in waters surrounding Taiwan and its immediate periphery. If China were to shift to a broader "sea control" strategy, the primary indicators would include: development of an aircraft carrier, development of robust, deep water anti-submarine warfare capabilities, development of a true area anti-air warfare capability, acquisition of large numbers of nuclear attack submarines, development of effective maritime C4ISR, and increased open water training.
Space and Counterspace Developments
China has accorded building a modern ISR architecture a high priority in its comprehensive military modernization, in particular the development of advanced space-based C4ISR and targeting capabilities. China's access to space will continue to improve as it develops newer boosters to replace the aging Long March system. Acquiring more sophisticated space systems will allow China to expand the reach of its anti-access forces and could serve as a key enabler for regional power projection.
- China participated in the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) program with the CBERS-1 and CBERS-2 remote sensing satellites. These satellites can take 20-meter resolution images in swaths exceeding 100 kilometers, and transmit those digital images to earth stations. The program will continue with follow-on satellites CBERS-2B, CBERS-3 and CBERS-4, which reportedly increase camera resolution substantially.
- In the next decade, Beijing most likely will field radar, ocean surveillance, and highresolution photoreconnaissance satellites. China will eventually deploy advanced imagery, reconnaissance, and Earth resource systems with military applications. In the interim, China probably will supplement existing coverage with commercial SPOT, LANDSAT, RADARSAT, Ikonos, and Russian satellite imagery.
China is interested in acquiring a disaster/environmental monitoring satellite constellation called Huanjing. Phase 1 of the program calls for three satellites, two of which are equipped for visible, infrared, and multi-spectral imaging while the third will possess a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to see through weather. Phase 2 of the Huanjing program allows for eight satellites (four imaging and four SAR) in orbit simultaneously.
Navigation and Timing. China launched three BeiDou satellites to provide navigation coverage with an accuracy of 20 meters over China and surrounding areas. BeiDou is an active positioning system that requires transmissions between satellite and the user, slowing the time it takes a user to receive a corrected position. The BeiDou system is best suited for use by troops, ships and vehicles that move slowly. The active part of Beidou also enables leadership to send and receive secure orders. China also uses the GPS and GLONASS navigation satellite systems, and has invested in the European Union's Galileo navigation system program.
Manned Program. China launched its second manned space mission on October 12, 2005, nearly two years after its first manned space mission. The two-person crew returned safely on October 17, 2005. This was the first occasion during which Chinese astronauts performed experiments in space. Press reports indicate China will perform its first space walk in 2007, and rendezvous and docking in 2009-2012. China's goal is to have a manned space station by 2020. The success of this program to date required a substantial amount of systems integration and planning, and serves as an indicator of China's rapid and relatively smooth rise as an emerging space power.
Communications and International Contracts.
China still uses foreign providers, like INTELSAT and INMARSAT, but is expanding indigenous capabilities - even marketing its technology, to include satellite development, manufacturing, and launch services, to the international market. China currently has two international contracts - one with Nigeria and one with Venezuela - for the design and manufacture of communication satellites based on their Dongfanghong-4 (DFH-4) spacecraft. China may be developing a system of data relay satellites to support global coverage, and has reportedly acquired mobile data reception equipment that could support more rapid data transmission to deployed military forces and units.
Small Satellites. China is studying and seeking foreign assistance for developing small satellites. It has launched a number of them since 2000, including an oceanographic research satellite, imagery satellites, and environmental research satellites. China is also developing microsatellites - weighing less than 100 kilograms - for remote sensing and networks of electro-optical and radar satellites. These developments could allow for a more rapid reconstitution or expansion of their satellite force given any disruption in coverage.
Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Weapons. Beijing continues to pursue an offensive anti-satellite system. China can currently destroy or disable satellites only by launching a ballistic missile or space-launch vehicle armed with a nuclear weapon. However, there are many risks associated with this method, and potentially adverse consequences from the use of nuclear weapons. Evidence exists that China is improving its situational awareness in space, which will give it the ability to track and identify most satellites. Such capability will allow for the deconfliction of Chinese satellites, and would also be required for offensive actions. At least one of the satellite attack systems appears to be a groundbased laser designed to damage or blind imaging satellites.
Exploiting Information Warfare
The PLA considers active offense to be the most important requirement for information warfare to destroy or disrupt an adversary's capability to receive and process data. Launched mainly by remote combat and covert methods, the PLA could employ information warfare preemptively to gain the initiative in a crisis.
Specified information warfare objectives include the targeting and destruction of an enemy's command system, shortening the duration of war, minimizing casualties on both sides, enhancing operational efficiency, reducing effects on domestic populations and gaining support from the international community.
The PLA's information warfare practices also reflect investment in electronic countermeasures and defenses against electronic attack (e.g., electronic and infrared decoys, angle reflectors, and false target generators.
Computer Network Operations. China's computer network operations (CNO) include computer network attack, computer network defense, and computer network exploitation. The PLA sees CNO as critical to seize the initiative and achieve "electromagnetic dominance" early in a conflict, and as a force multiplier. Although there is no evidence of a formal Chinese CNO doctrine, PLA theorists have coined the term "Integrated Network Electronic Warfare" to outline the integrated use of electronic warfare, CNO, and limited kinetic strikes against key C4 nodes to disrupt the enemy's battlefield network information systems. The PLA has established information warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and tactics and measures to protect friendly computer systems and networks. The PLA has increased the role of CNO in its military exercises. For example, exercises in 2005 began to incorporate offensive operations, primarily in first strikes against enemy networks.
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