China’s newly formed Rocket Force will impose strong strategic deterrence with missiles capable of launching nuclear weapons.
However, China’s nuclear capability will be kept at the minimum level required for safeguarding its national security, Chinese MoD spokesperson Yang Yujun said at a press conference yesterday.
The spokesperson reiterated its no-first-use nuclear weapons policy while advocating a strong defensive nuclear strategy.
The Rocket force is an upgrade of the previous Second Artillery Force, which operates strategic as well as conventional missile weapons. In recent times China has conducted a number of long range missiles capable of hitting targets as far as the US mainland.
At a military parade late last year, China unveiled a truck mounted long range missile system which observers said is meant for high mobility shoot-and-scoot type of operations.
China already has two Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), namely DongFeng 5A and DongFeng 31A.
The DF-5A ICBM is capable of striking targets within the range of 13,000km. It is an improved version of the 12,000km-range DF-5 ICBM and is capable of reaching targets within the continental United States (CONUS). The DF-5A ICBM is fired from launch pad or land-based silo. Inertial guidance system and on-board computers provide direction to the missile. Two-stage rocket engines using a liquid bi-propellant provide the required propulsion.
The DF-31 is a long-range ICBM with a range of 11,200km. The ICBM can carry a single thermal nuclear warhead of 1,000kt. A submarine-launched Julang-2 (JL-2) missile is also being developed from the land-based DF-31.