News


-- July 10, 1997

New Chinese missiles target all of East Asia

By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
China is upgrading its medium-range missile forces with newer mobile systems designed to hit targets in Russia, India, Taiwan, Japan and other parts of East Asia, according to a classified Pentagon report.
. . . . Details about China's intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) nuclear forces, including numbers of launchers and deployment areas, have never been made public before.
. . . . Currently, China has about 40 CSS-2 refire-capable launchers at six field garrisons and launch complexes, according to the report by the National Air Intelligence Center. Many of those launchers are being converted to handle new, solid-fuel CSS-5 Mod 1 launchers and missiles.
. . . . The Air Force believes the number of CSS-2 sites likely will be reduced because the United States no longer operates bases in the Philippines and because China's M-9 short-range missiles deployed along the eastern coast can be used to attack Taiwan instead, according to the report.
. . . . "China's IRBM force translates into overwhelming strategic leverage in Asia," says Richard Fisher, a defense specialist at the Heritage Foundation.
. . . . Chinese medium-range missiles, including a future variant of the CSS-5, called Mod 2, "are designed to provide strategic dominance over East Asia," Mr. Fisher said in an interview.
. . . . The Air Force intelligence center said last year that China is expected to field a new mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-31, around 2000, which will give Beijing "a major strike capability" against U.S. and allied forces in the Pacific and parts of the western United States.
. . . . According to the NAIC report on the medium-range missiles, labeled "secret," satellite photographs of IRBM missile launch complexes and field garrisons in China indicate the People's Liberation Army is "downsizing the CSS-2 force."
. . . . The CSS-2, a liquid-fuel missile with a range of about 1,922 miles, is being replaced in some deployment areas with "the mobile, solid-propellent CSS-5 Mod 1" with a range of about 1,333 miles, the report says.
. . . . Solid-fuel missiles can be launched more quickly, and most modern missiles use that type of propellant.
. . . . The CSS-5 deployments so far have been limited to areas closer to China's borders to ensure "adequate target coverage" of areas where CSS-2s were once aimed.
. . . . In the interior of China, where greater range is needed, CSS-2 activity "remains unchanged," a sign the system will remain in service for the next five years.
. . . . "In areas deeper inside China, where longer range is necessary for target coverage, CSS-2 activities are relatively high, indicating the missile could remain in service in these regions until new missiles such as the CSS-5 Mod 2 are deployed," the report says. "Once the CSS-5 Mod 1 and Mod 2 deployments are adequately under way, the CSS-2 will likely be removed completely from service, perhaps by 2002."
. . . . Mr. Fisher said the IRBM upgrades increase the danger China will sell older CSS-2s or their technology to rogue states, as China has done with other missile systems.
. . . . The Pentagon report provides details of medium-range missile activity and targets at four general locations in China.
. . . . "Datong is an ideal deployment site for the CSS-2 as the site is much less vulnerable to air attack than the coast areas," the report states. "From Datong, the CSS-2 can strike targets in India and Russia."
. . . . The Air Force has spotted "recent demolotion activity" at Datong indicating the facility is undergoing conversion in apparent preparation for deployment of China's most modern IRBM, the CSS-5 Mod 2.
. . . . According to Mr. Fisher, the Mod 2 version of the CSS-5 will be comparable to the U.S. Pershing II IRBM, which was dismantled under a 1987 arms pact, and will employ advanced radar guidance that makes it extremely accurate.

Copyright © 1997 News World Communications, Inc.