China on the Launch Pad
SINGAPORE – Behind a veil of secrecy, China’s development of strategic and tactical missiles is well into its third generation of modernization. While the development of Chinese long-range missile and nuclear forces has traditionally been characterized as conservative, incremental, and slow, it has taken place against a backdrop of steadily growing official emphasis on the country’s defense-industrial complex, particularly its aerospace sector.
This process has been accelerated by a confluence of defense-industry reforms, comprehensive military upgrading, and integration of innovative operational concepts. The net effect is a growing capability of China’s strategic missile forces and military space platforms.
Various reports suggest that China is selectively enhancing its strategic and tactical missile capabilities by developing solid-fuel motors; diversifying its range of warheads and increasing their accuracy; deploying missiles with multiple warheads; and upgrading its ballistic-missile defense countermeasures, such as decoys, chaff, jamming, and thermal shielding, and possibly maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRVs) and multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs).
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