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China's Strategic strike capability

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Andrei Chang
Hong Kong (UPI) Sep 7, 2007
China has been upgrading its H-6 bombers and producing H-6K bombers in an effort to improve its aerial nuclear strategic deterrence. The subsonic speed of the H-6 and non-stealthy sorties prevented it from breaking through the air-defense networks of Russia, the United States and Japan. Fitted with D-30-P2 engines of greater thrust power, the H-6K has a greatly increased range and combat payload. The two engines, each with a thrust power of 12,000 kilograms, may enhance the H-6K's ammunition capacity to around 12 tons, enabling it to carry large long-range cruise missiles.

Before 2006, China had no effective long-range air-launched cruise missiles. Judging from their exterior structure, the range of the YJ-63 cruise missiles it has fitted on the H-6H is no more than 200 kilometers. The deployment of this cruise missile in its 10th Bomber Division appears to be aimed at reinforcing strike capability on tactical targets in Taiwan.

The H-6K has a reinforced fuselage structure and uses more composite materials, and the hardpoints fitted on it are also newly designed. Armed with long-range cruise missiles, even though it is still a subsonic bomber, the H-6K now has the operational capability to project nuclear deterrence. The fire control software of the H-6K will also undergo necessary modifications.

A careful analysis of the configuration of the six cruise missiles loaded on the H-6K bomber, a picture of which appeared recently on Chinese Web sites, indicates China may have imitated the Russian KH-55A air-launched cruise missiles. In the mid-1990s, China acquired six such missiles from Ukraine through smuggling -- a feat confirmed by Ukrainian authorities.

Although the image of the H-6K is blurred, it can be seen that the air-intake channel is close to the stabilizing fin at the tail, very similar to the pneumatic structure of the KH-55A. This indicates that the H-6K bomber is powered by turbofan engines. This photo also indicates that China very likely has started to produce a Chinese version of the KH-55.

The KH-55 and KH-55SM can be either conventional or nuclear cruise missiles. It is not likely that the development of such long-range aggressive weapons was intended for conventional offensive operations. Such missiles can be armed with a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead. Thus the Chinese version of the KH-55 could be fitted with both conventional and nuclear warheads. The KH-55 has a length of 8.09 meters and a diameter of 0.514 meters -- 0.77 meters for the KH-55SM. The KH-55 has a wingspan of 3.1 meters, a weight of 1,700 kilograms and a flying speed of Mach 0.48-0.77. The total weight of the 6 KH-55 missiles is 10.2 tons. These figures give some idea as to why China is upgrading its H-6H to the H-6K.

The acquisition of the H-6K and new generation long-range cruise missile is an epoch-making event for the PLA air force. When used for conventional precision offensive operations, the Chinese KH-55 fired from Chinese air space will put the entire Korean peninsula within strike range, and also much of Japan, including the whole of Okinawa, parts of Honshu Island and all of Kyushu and Shikoku.

If the Chinese KH-55 has the 2,500-kilometer strike range of the original Russian KH-55, H-6K bombers taking off from an airport in northeast China could directly launch attacks within China's own air space upon almost all targets in Tokyo, Hokkaido and Honshu. Moreover, the H-6K bombers deployed in the 8th Bomber Division under the southern Guangzhou Military Region could be forward-deployed and launch aerial attacks upon Guam.

From the official Chinese news release after the successful flight tests of the H-6K, it can be clearly sensed the Chinese military has high expectations for this bomber. It is not just an upgraded variant of the H-6 or intended only for tactical purposes. The news release described its test flight as an event that "20,000 Xian Aircraft Company staff have been longing for, for 13 long years." Guests invited to observe the maiden flight of the bomber included top leaders from the Central Military Commission and the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

It appears that the entry into service of the H-6K has given the Chinese air force genuine operational capability to launch nuclear attacks upon adversary targets.

(Andrei Chang is editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly.)

Source: United Press International
related report
Chinese hackers form US military cyber attack plans
London (AFP) Sept 8 - Chinese military hackers have drawn up a plan to disable the United States' battle carrier fleet through a cyber attack, British newspaper The Times said Saturday, citing a Pentagon report.

The blueprint is part of a plan by Beijing to establish "electronic dominance" over its global rivals by 2050, particularly the United States, Britain, Russia and South Korea, said the daily.

The newspaper said two hackers working for China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) came up with the plan.

The Pentagon report says China's military regards offensive computer operations as "critical to seize the initiative" in the early stages of a war, The Times said.

"China's ambitions extend to crippling an enemy's financial, military and communications capabilities early in a conflict," said the newspaper.

According to The Times, Larry M. Wortzel, author of the US Army War College report, said: "The thing that should give us pause is that in many Chinese military manuals they identify the US as the country they are most likely to go to war with. They are moving very rapidly to master this new form of warfare."

The PLA hackers produced a "virtual guidebook for electronic warfare and jamming" after studying NATO and US manuals on military tactics, the report said.

The Times said the Pentagon logged more than 79,000 attempted intrusions in 2005, of which about 1,300 succeeded.

China on Thursday denied that its military had hacked into the the websites of any foreign government, after press reports said Britain was the latest nation to fall victim to Chinese cyber attacks.

related report
Australian PM says trilateral security talks no threat to China
Sydney (AFP) Sept 9 - Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Sunday said landmark security talks with the United States and Japan were not "anti-China" and he had seen no evidence Beijing was concerned by them.

Howard met US President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit Saturday for security discussions believed to have touched on China's growing regional influence.

The Australian leader said he was not concerned that Beijing would see the talks as a move to contain China.

"The trilateral security dialogue is in no way anti-Chinese, that is just a complete furphy (falsehood)," Howard told reporters at the end of the 2007 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting in Sydney.

Howard said it was natural for the three allies to discuss security and Chinese President Hu Jintao had raised no concerns about the talks when they met during the APEC summit.

"People keep asking me about this reaction (from China) and I'm still searching to find it," he said.

"I don't think I can find it because I think deep down the Chinese government understands precisely what I've said -- that this trilateral security dialogue is a natural, positive expression of the relationship that exists between the great Pacific democracies, that is Japan, Australia and the United States."

Howard pointed out that Australia had also agreed to annual security talks with China on the sidelines of the APEC summit.

The trilateral meeting, the first between the three nations, was held over breakfast on Saturday morning.

Japanese officials said after the meeting that the talks included discussion on how to engage with China positively, as well as the war in Iraq and North Korea.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Saturday that the informal talks were dominated by India's growing weight in Asia, which commentators have suggested could pose a counterbalance to China's rising military might.

Source: Agence France-Presse
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