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China Is Filling Gaps In Its Military With Lots And Lots Of Missiles

July 29, 2011


China missile

PLA DF-31A mobile ICBM TELs

Image: AUS Airpower

Despite the stealth jets, an aircraft carrier and drones, China’s military is relatively weak, according to military analyses parsed by Wired. To compensate Beijinghas been buying lots and lots of missiles:“All kinds of missiles: short-range and long-range; land-based, air-launched and sea-launched; ballistic and cruise; guided and “dumb … “For every category of weaponry where the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) lags behind the Pentagon, there’s a Chinese missile to help make up the difference.”

One disadvantage for China, for instance, is a dearth of air-refueling tankers — just 14 compared to 500 in the U.S. Air Force alone. This means of the 1,500 jet fighters in the PLA’s fleet only 50 or 60 can be used in battle at any one time. In a fight with Taiwan, hundreds of miles of the Chinese coast, those 60 jets will have just a few minutes fight time. With that limitation, Wired points out China’s four-to-one advantage over Taiwan shrinks to a seven-to-one disadvantage.

China overcomes this shortfall with its 1,000 ballistic and cruise missiles — hoping to take out as much of the Pacific Fleet and Taiwan’s defenses — before any air battles begin.

Attempting a “super-saturation” the Chinese could launch 100s of ballistic missiles simultaneously, but with  U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems, there’s no guarantee they’d succeed.

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