Military vehicles carrying missiles march at the Tiananmen Square during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. China's President Xi Jinping and world leader inspected 12,000 troops marching across the square. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

China Building Missiles to Strike Guam


Ballistic and cruise missile threat to U.S. island is increasing, congressional commission says

BY:  May 11, 2016 5:00 am

China is building up intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles that pose a growing threat to Guam, the strategic Pacific island that is central to the U.S. military pivot to Asia, according to a congressional report made public Tuesday.

Six different missiles capable of reaching Guam from China are deployed or in late stages of development, says the report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

They include the DF-26 intermediate-range missile that Beijing unveiled during a recent military parade, and dubbed the “Guam-killer,” that can be armed with both nuclear and conventional warheads.

“The DF-26 is China’s first conventionally-armed IRBM and first conventionally-armed ballistic missile capable of reaching Guam,” the report said, noting that its inclusion in a September 2015 military parade in Beijing “indicates it has likely been deployed as an operational weapon.”

The report put the risk of a Chinese attack on Guam as low.

Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban said the Defense Department continues to monitor China’s military modernization and missile program. “Potential threats are continually factored into defense planning and capability investments,” he said, adding that the Pentagon’s most recent report on the Chinese military noted efforts by Beijing to target Guam with missiles.

However, publication of the report comes amid rising U.S.-China tensions in the South China Sea. On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that a U.S. guided missile destroyer, the USS William P. Lawrence, sailed within 12 miles of a disputed island occupied by China in the South China Sea.

It was the Navy’s third “freedom of navigation” operation since October intended to challenge Chinese claims to the disputed islands and reefs.

A Chinese government spokesman criticized the warship passage as “threatening” China’s sovereignty over the islands. China is claiming some 90 percent of the South China Sea as its maritime territory.

The Philippines’ government has challenged China’s claims to the Spratlys at an international court that is expected to rule against China in the coming weeks.

The court ruling is expected to further intensify military tensions in the region.

The South China Sea is a key strategic waterway linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans where an estimated $5 trillion in trade transits annually.

The report identified other new missiles capable of hitting Guam as an anti-ship variant of the DF-26, and several air- and sea-launched land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles. The missile has a range of between 1,800 miles and 2,500 miles, enough to hit Guam, which is located in the South Pacific about 1,500 miles from the Philippines.

The island is the focus of a major buildup of U.S. naval and air forces including attack submarines, strategic bombers, and long-range drones as part of the Obama administration’s “rebalance” to Asia.

“Guam … is growing in importance to U.S. strategic interests and any potential warfighting operations in the Asia Pacific, even as China’s ability to strike the island is increasing,” the report, written by commission analyst Jordan Wilson, says.

“Such attacks could hold key U.S. assets stationed on Guam at risk and also disrupt their region-wide response effort, slowing deployment timetables and reducing the effectiveness of U.S. forces in the theater.”

One worrying sign outlined in the report is China’s increased naval spying near Guam through PLA navy maritime intelligence-gathering ships.

“These ships likely have equipment enabling them to collect signals intelligence and map the ocean floor, suggesting the PLA Navy may be preparing for more routine naval operations in the vicinity of Guam in the near future,” the report said.

By threatening Guam with missile strikes, China’s communist leaders might be more willing to resort to military force in a crisis and limit the United States’ ability to deter conflict, the report said.

The report suggests the United States harden military facilities on Guam against missile attack, develop advanced missile defenses, and rethink continued adherence to the 1987 U.S.-Russia Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty that limits the Pentagon from building missiles with ranges between 300 miles and 3,000 miles.

Rick Fisher, a China military affairs analyst, said the report should be a wake-up call for U.S. policymakers who have insisted in the past that China’s modernization poses no threat.

“For decades scores of U.S. officials have been telling Americans that a strong China is good for America and the world,” said Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“The China Commission’s report blasts this delusion; a strong China is building a growing threat to the security of America and to all democracies,” he said. “China is spoiling for a war in the South China Sea and if its wins, or forces the U.S. to leave Southeast Asia, it will set its sights on Guam.”

Larry Wortzel, a former military intelligence officer and current commission member, said China’s military is countering the U.S. military rebalance to Asia by targeting Guam.

“The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has developed new classes of conventional ballistic missiles to increase its capacity to strike Guam while seeking to keep any conflict below the nuclear threshold,” Wortzel said.

“The PLA navy, air force, and naval air force also can target Guam with stand-off precision cruise missiles,” he added. “U.S. facilities in Guam need to be hardened and protected with effective ballistic missile and cruise missile defenses.”

The report says the road-mobile DF-26 is not yet a precision strike weapon but that it poses a concern if large numbers are deployed. The DF-26 anti-ship variant also has not been tested against a ship at sea but is being developed.

The drive for a missile capable of striking Guam is the result of leaders of the ruling Communist Party of China seeking capabilities to counter what they regard as U.S. military encirclement of China.

To counter U.S. and allied forces in Asia, China is developing weapons for fighting conflicts in two island chains, the first stretching from Japan, to the Philippines to the South China Sea, and the second including the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Palau, and eastern Indonesia.

A new air-launched cruise missile, the long-range CJ-20, is deployed on China’s newest and most capable bomber, the H-6K. The missile has a range of 932 miles and the bomber’s range is 2,175 miles.

However, the bombers lack radar-evading stealth technology and could be countered by U.S. and Japanese jets.

China’s new Type-095 nuclear attack submarines are likely to be armed with land-attack cruise missiles, along with new Luyang-III guided missile destroyers.

“Depending on their position, surface ships and submarines equipped with [land-attack cruise missiles] would be able to provide additional strike options against facilities on Guam,” the report said.

China’s new YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles can travel up to 334 miles and could threaten U.S. naval operations near Guam if Chinese warships manage to get close enough without being detected.

The Pentagon currently has deployed one battery of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile defense system on Guam. A battery includes three launchers, 24 anti-missile interceptors, and the AN/TPY-2 radar surveillance systems.

The DF-26 missile is the most significant threat to Guam “although it likely will remain extremely inaccurate until China extends its precision strike capabilities,” the report said.

The commission’s report makes clear that in addition to Taiwan, Okinawa, and the Philippines, the island of Guam is now being targeted in planned barrage strikes of Chinese missiles.

“As Guam is now a frontline American territory in the battle for dominance in Asia, it is necessary that Guam receive far greater priority in U.S. defense allocations, to include early stationing of ground-based electromagnetic rail guns for terminal missile defense, the stationing for more nuclear attack submarines to [defend against] PLA navy cruise missile carriers, plus fighters and refuelers to [defend against] PLA air force cruise missile carriers,” Fisher said.




The DF-26 is a Chinese intermediate-range ballistic missile. It is based on the earlier DF-21 , but has a longer range. Existence of this missile was revealed in 2014. The DF-26 was first publicly revealed in 2015. It appears to be in operational service for several years. This missile is in service with Second Artillery Corps, that are de facto strategic missile forces of the Chinese army.

   Chinese sources claim that currently the DF-26 is the most advanced intermediate-range ballistic missile in the world. It is worth noting that the United States and Russia can not develop missiles of this class due to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, that was signed back in 1987. The only other comparable missile is the Indian Agni V. Chinese sources claim that the DF-26 is superior to the Agni V.

   The DF-26 is a two-stage solid-fuel missile. Its estimated range is around 3 000 – 4 000 km. Other sources suggest that its maximum range is in excess of 5 000 km. It is believed that the DF-26 can carry payload of 1 200 to 1 800 kg. This missile is fitted with a nuclear warhead.

   It is likely that this missile has internal navigation system with indigenous Chinese BeiDou satellite navigation system. It should have an accuracy of less than 100 m. Possibly less than 10 m.

   Chinese sources report, that the DF-26 also has an anti-ship variant with conventional warhead. It is intended to attack ships at sea, such as aircraft carriers or destroyers. If it is true, such missile could target the US Navy ships out to Guam.

Image Image

Graphic comparing navy fleets of China, Japan and other asian countries

China has 205 ships over 500 tons
Japan has 78 ships over 500 tons
Vietnam has 55 ships over 500 tons
Indonesia has 8 ships
Malaysia has 2 ships
Philippines has 4 ships


Not in the graphic are India, South Korea and North Korea.

India has about 137 ships
As of 2015, the Indian Navy has a strength of 58,350 personnel and a large operational fleet consisting of two aircraft carriers, one amphibious transport dock, 9 Landing ship tanks, 9 destroyers, 15 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine, 14 conventionally-powered attack submarines, 25 corvettes, 7 mine countermeasure vessels, 47 patrol vessels, 4 fleet tankers and various other auxiliary vessels.

South Korea has about 160 ships
The ROK (south Korea) Navy has about 70,000 regular personnel including 29,000 Republic of Korea Marines (as of 2014). In addition, there are about 160 commissioned ships in service with the ROK Navy, including 12 destroyers, 10 frigates, 12 submarines, 21 corvettes and 84 patrol vessels (with a total displacement of about 193,000 tonnes). The naval aviation force consists of about 70 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The ROK Marine Corps has about 400 tracked vehicles including self-propelled artillery.

The ROK Navy aims to become a blue-water navy by 2020.

North Korea Navy – a lot of mostly obsolete ships

The annual report of North Korea’s military capabilities by the U.S. Department of Defense, released in early 2014, identified the North Korean Navy’s strength at 60,000 personnel, 70 submarines, 420 patrol combatants, 260 amphibious landing craft, 30 mine warfare vessels, and 30 support ships. North Korea’s submarine force purportedly consists of 70 mostly obsolete boats, primarily used for coastal defense and reconnaissance operations, with limited capability for more offensive anti-ship operations (partially mostly due to lack of long-range air cover). The Korean People’s Navy (KPN) is believed to possess 20 Romeo-class vessels, 1,800-ton diesel-electric subs based on 1950s Soviet technology; 40 home-built 370 tons Sang-O-class diesel-electric submarines specifically designed for the insertion of special operation forces into the South but also capable of laying mines and conducting antisurface warfare; and approximately ten 130 tons Yono-class midget submarines.

By 2020, China should have about 350 ships. by 2020 China’s navy will already increasingly look like a smaller version of the U.S. Navy and will be “the second most capable ‘far seas’ navy in the world.” In five years, the PLAN’s capabilities would dwarf most other navies – China would have as many aircraft carriers as Britain and India, more nuclear attack submarines than either Britain or France, and as many AEGIS-like destroyers as all the other non-US navies combined. China would have two aircraft carriers, 20-22 AEGIS like destroyers and 6-7 nuclear attack submarines, while United States would have eleven aircraft carriers; 88 AEGIS like destroyers; and 48 nuclear attack submarines.

See details of H-6K bomber: HERE

China’s Navy modernization and fleet composition

September 26, 2015


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