The Takshashila PLA Insight: Issue No 10: China’s Missile Test, Cambodia: China’s New Military Outpost, PLA Transfers, AI and PLA, Z-20 Helicopters

The Big Story: China’s Missile Test in South China Sea

The NBC reports that China has fired at least one anti-ship ballistic missile this week in the South China Sea. The missile was launched from the areas around contested Spratly Island. The report attributed this information to two anonymous US military officials with knowledge of the matter.

The Pentagon has called this test disturbing and has blamed China for not abiding to its pledge of non-militarising the South China Sea. Pentagon spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn said, “Of course the Pentagon was aware of the Chinese missile launch from the man-made structures in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands. I’m not going to speak on behalf of all the sovereign nations in the region, but I’m sure they agree that the PRC’s behaviour is contrary to its claim to want to bring peace to the region and obviously actions like this are coercive acts meant to intimidate other claimants.”

China has neither confirmed nor denied the missile test. China’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the issue and has deferred the question to the Chinese Ministry of Defence.

China, post its humiliation of 1996 Taiwan crisis, has heavily invested in developing deterrence capabilities in San Hai (three seas). The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has assessed China’s Anti Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) – sea denial capacities for the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea. According to CSIS, China’s A2/AD is due to the combination of ballistic and cruise missiles from air, land, and sea.

Following are Beijing’s ballistic and cruise missiles:

Missile             Class                     Range                          Status

DF-11               SRBM              280-300 km                 Operational
DF-26              IRBM           3,000-4,000 km             Operational
DF-16              SRBM               800-1,000 km             Operational
DF-4          IRBM/ICBM         4,500-5,500 km          Operational
DF-15             SRBM                     600 km                     Operational
HN 3        Cruise Missile          3,000 km                     Operational
HN 2        Cruise Missile        1,400-1,800 km            Operational

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