Sea Logistics

China Accelerating Rocket Force Capability


HALIFAX FORUM NEWS: China’s New Rockets Called Asymmetric Threat to U.S. Navy


The DF-26 ballistic missile at a military parade.

Wikipedia via IceUnshattered

The Chinese military has been boosting its capability dramatically since Chairman Xi Jinping came into power in 2012 and is notably expanding its rocket forces, said the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

“They’re creating very advanced platforms — and weapons systems to go with those platforms — in the naval or maritime sphere, with their air forces [and] with their rocket forces,” said Adm. Philip Davidson. “China will test more missiles — conventional and nuclear associated missiles — this year than every other nation added together on the planet.”

There is an “incredible asymmetry” in the region due to the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force and what it’s capable of doing both in terms of capability and quantity, he said during a pre-recorded interview at the Halifax International Security Forum, which this year is being hosted both in person in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“That presents a threat not only to its key security concerns along the border, but certainly along the whole First Island chain,” he said, referring to major archipelagoes out from the East Asian continental mainland coast. “It’s one of the reasons that I’ve been a key advocate for integrated air-and-missile defense.”

Both Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands need to have such a capability to be protected, he said.

“It’s an important statement for the United States … to have an integrated air-and-missile defense capability station right there in Guam,” he said.

Davidson noted that China earlier this year tested two new anti-ship ballistic missiles — the DF-26 and DF-21D — against a moving vessel. The missiles have been called “carrier-killers” by some, but Davidson pushed back on the term.

“We’ve known for years that they were in pursuit of a capability that could attack moving targets,” he said. “I don’t use the term ‘carrier-killer,’ and I don’t think others should because it indicates that the Chinese are targeting a specific asset. Trust me, they’re targeting everything.”

However, the United States can counter that threat, he said.

“I’m quite confident that the tactics, techniques, procedures and the counters that our forces out here — not just the maritime forces — but all of our forces, including cyberspace forces, are pursuing will help counter such threats and be able to deliver the offensive fires that we need to be able to deliver … to prevent Chinese objectives and impose costs where necessary,” he said.

Besides capability development, Beijing is increasing its military modernization in three other crucial areas including training, joint structure and combat support, Davidson said.

Since the summer, Beijing has been involved in what Davidson called a “deep multi-theater exercise” which is expected to continue for a few more weeks.

During these “exercises they’re getting after the third thing that they’re advancing, which is a joint structure, and we’re seeing a much deeper joint integration across all those domain forces, cyberspace and the terrestrial ones — air, maritime and land forces and rocket forces as well,” he said.

The fourth area of modernization is combat support which includes logistics, munitions, sustainment and command and control, he noted.

“It is a severe challenge with not only one of those areas, but absolutely in all four of those areas for our allies and partners in the region, as well as the United States,” he said.

Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite, who also…



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