Moon of Alabama – Oct 1, 2019
The People’s Republic of China held a great parade (3h video, shorter version with comments) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding. Some interesting new weapons were on display that are of strategic significance.
China has, like Russia and Iran, used the decades the U.S. military wasted with counter insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan to build strength where the U.S. military has weaknesses. Those weaknesses are most visible in the Navy:
New classes of quiet diesel submarines and new developments in mine and torpedo technology make operations close to tense coastlines far more dangerous today than in the past. As a result, U.S. aircraft carriers are no longer immune from risk when entering waters within range of enemy forces.
More serious still is the deployment of Russian and Chinese area denial systems, like the so-called carrier killer DF-21 antiship missile developed in the last decade by China. Its range of over 1,000 miles far outstrips the range of any warplane on U.S. flight decks today. Sailing a U.S. carrier strike force through the Taiwan Strait these days—in a show of support for pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong, for instance—would risk catastrophe.
Iran does not yet possess anything as sophisticated as China’s DF-21. However, its domestically produced Noor antiship missile (itself a reverse-engineered rip-off of an earlier Chinese cruise missile) is dangerous at over 100 miles. […] The combination of these missiles and Iran’s fleet of fast and cheap patrol boats has been enough to keep the USS Lincoln out of the Persian Gulf as tensions between Iran and the United States increased this summer.
The carrier killer DF-21 is no longer China’s top weapon. It is a ballistic missile and a U.S. carrier group may be able to use its missile defenses to take it down. China used the last years to exceed its capabilities.
AP reports of today’s parade:
One closely-watched weapon unveiled Tuesday was the Dongfeng-17, a glider capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Foreign analysts say is designed to maneuver at high speed to evade anti-missile defenses.
Another missile displayed, the Dongfeng-41, is believed to have a range of up to 15,000 kilometers (9,400 miles), which would make it world’s longest-range military missile. Analysts say it may be able to carry as many as 10 warheads to hit separate targets.
Here are some screenshots from the parade video.
The DF-17 is a road mobile system. Its first stage is a solid fuel missile. The second stage is the hypersonic glider which can fly beyond mach 5 and is maneuverable. This is another aircraft carrier killer against which the U.S. has absolutely no defenses.
The DF-41 is a road mobile beast. The 8 axle vehicle can transport, erect and launch the missile. The DF-41 is supposedly a solid fuel missile. That means that it only requires a very short time to deploy and launch. It will be difficult to interdict while it is still on the ground. There were a total of 16 of these monsters in the parade.
There were other systems of interests.