China`s Conventional Precision Striking Ability

The PLARF fields multiple missiles capable of conducting strikes beyond the first island chain. Among these are the CSS-5 Mod 5 ASBM with a range of 1,500 km and a MaRV to challenge ballistic missile defenses.


The PLARF fields multiple missiles capable of conducting strikes beyond the first island chain. Among these are the CSS-5 Mod 5 ASBM with a range of 1,500 km and a MaRV to challenge ballistic missile defenses. China also deploys the land-attack CSS-5 Mod 4 and the ground-launched CJ-10 LACM, placing targets on Okinawa and the main Japanese islands at risk. The DF-26 IRBM has a maximum range of 4,000 km and is capable of conducting precision strikes against ground and ship targets, potentially threatening U.S. land and sea-based forces as far away as Guam.

Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (300-1,000 km). The Rocket Force has approximately 750-1,500 SRBMs. These missile systems include advanced variants with improved ranges and accuracy as well as more sophisticated payloads; earlier generations are being phased out and replaced by variants with true precision strike capability.

Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (1,000-3,000 km). The PLA is fielding approximately 150-450 conventional MRBMs to increase the range at which it can conduct precision strikes against land targets and naval ships operating out to the first island chain.

Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (3,000-5,500 km). The PLA’s DF-26 is a road-mobile, nuclear and conventional capable IRBM capable of near-precision strike capability as far away from China as the second island chain. The PLAN is also expanding its network of sky wave and surface wave OTH radars. In conjunction with reconnaissance satellites, these OTH systems provide targeting capabilities at extended distances from China to support long-range precision strikes, including employment of ASBMs.

Land-Attack Cruise Missiles. The PLA fields approximately 270-540 ground-launched LACMs for standoff precision strikes. The PLA continues to develop additional LACM-variants for deployment with the PLAN and PLAAF.

Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles. China deploys a wide range of advanced ASCMs with the YJ-83 series as the most numerous, and it is equipping the majority of China’s ships as well as multiple aircraft. China has also outfitted several ships with YJ-62 ASCMs. The YJ-18 is a long-range, torpedo tube-launched ASCM with a supersonic terminal sprint. It has likely replaced the older YJ-82 on SONG, YUAN, and SHANG class submarines, and China claims the new LUYANG III-class DDG and RENHAI CG are outfitted with a vertically launched variant of the YJ-18. China has also developed the long-range supersonic YJ-12 ASCM for the H-6 bomber. At a 2018 exhibition, China displayed a ship-to-ship variant of the YJ-12 called the YJ-12A and the ground-launched anti-ship variant YJ -12B. China has deployed the YJ-12B to several outposts in the South China Sea. China also carries the Russian SS-N-22 SUNBURN on four Russian-built SOVREMENNYY-class DDGs and the Russian SS-N-27b SIZZLER on eight Russian-built KILO-class submarines.

Ground Attack Munitions. The PLAAF has a small number of tactical air-to-surface missiles (ASM) as well as precision munitions; guidance options include satellite positioning, laser, electro-optic, and imaging infrared. China is developing or adapting a range of smaller ASMs and guided bombs for use on its increasing range of armed UAVs.

Anti-Radiation Weapons. The PLA imported Israeli-made HARPY UAVs and Russian-made anti-radiation missiles during the 1990s. China is integrating the YJ-91, an indigenous version of the Russian Kh-31P (AS-17), into its fighter-bomber force and advertising the ASN-301 anti-radiation drone, an improved domestic variant of the HARPY.

Artillery-Delivered High Precision Munitions. The PLA is fielding long-range rocket artillery systems with the range to strike targets within or even across the Taiwan Strait. The most common of these systems is the PHL-03 12×300 mm multiple-rocket launcher – similar to the Russian 9A52-2 SMERCH – with a 150 km range. Improved warheads for these rockets may include vertical penetrators and sensor-fuzed munitions.

Source: Annual Report to US Congress

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