A report issued by the US National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) on Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threats has put in perspective the range of Chinese, Indian and Pakistani capabilities in this regard.StratPost publishes extracts from the report.
The key findings of the report with respect to China points out ‘China has the most active and diverse ballistic missile development program in the world. It is developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading certain missile systems, and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses. China’s ballistic missile force is expanding in both size and types of missiles. New theater missiles continue to be deployed in the vicinity of Taiwan, while the ICBM force is adding the CSS-10 Mod 1 (DF-31) and CSS-10 Mod 2 (DF-31A) ICBMs. The new JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is also under development. Future ICBMs probably will include some with multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicles’.
India and Pakistan continue to develop new short- and long-range ballistic missiles. Pakistan has tested its solid propellant Shaheen 2 MRBM six times since 2004 and India has tested its new solid-propellant Agni III IRBM three times since 2006. India has stated that the solid-propellant Agni II MRBM is ready for deployment.
Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs)
Missile Propellant Deployment Range(Miles)
CSS-6 Mod 1 Solid Road-mobile 370
CSS-6 Mod 2 Solid Road-mobile 550+
CSS-6 Mod 3 Solid Road-mobile 450+
CSS-7 Mod 1 Solid Road-mobile 185
CSS-7 Mod 2 Solid Road-mobile 370
CSS-8 Solid(1)/Liquid(2) Road-mobile 93
B611 Solid Road-mobile 93
(1) and (2) refer to stages.
Prithvi I Liquid Road-mobile 93
Prithvi II Liquid Road-mobile 155
Dhanush Liquid Ship-based 250
Agni I Solid Road-mobile 435
Hatf-1 Solid Road-mobile 50
Shaheen I Solid Road-mobile 280+
Ghaznavi Solid Road-mobile 250
CSS-6/CCS-7: More than 200
Prithvi-I/II: Fewer than 50
Agni I: Fewer than 25
Ghaznavi/Shaheen-1: Fewer than 50
The missile inventory may be much larger than the number of launchers, because launchers can be reused to fire additional missiles.
Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBMs) and Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs)
New MRBM and/or IRBM systems are in development in China, North Korea, Iran, India, and Pakistan. These are strategic systems, and most will be armed with non-conventional warheads. All of these countries except Iran have tested nuclear weapons. Neither Russia nor the United States produce or retain any MRBM or IRBM systems, because they are banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which entered into force in 1988. China has been very active in its development of MRBMs.
China’s long-term, comprehensive transformation of its military forces is improving its capacity for force projection and Chinese ballistic missiles play a key role in China’s effort to deny foreign military forces access to the region in any future conflict involving Taiwan. China currently deploys the nuclear-armed CSS-2, CSS-5 Mod 1, and CSS-5 Mod 2 for regional nuclear deterrence.
China is also acquiring new conventionally-armed MRBMs to conduct precision strikes at longer ranges. These systems are likely intended to hold at risk, or strike, logistics nodes and regional military bases including airfields and ports. Notably, China is developing an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) based on a variant of the CSS-5.
India continues to develop and improve its ballistic missiles. Indian officials have stated that the solid-propellant Agni II MRBM is ready for deployment. The new solid-propellant Agni III IRBM has been flight-tested three times since 2006. Indian missile developers have also stated that they have the capability to produce an ICBM, with a range of about 3,000-3,700 miles.
Pakistan continues to improve the readiness and capabilities of its Army Strategic Force Command and individual Strategic Missile Groups through training exercises that include live missile firings. Pakistan has tested its solid-propellant Shaheen 2 MRBM six times since 2004, and this missile system probably will soon be deployed.
Missile Stages Propellant Deployment Range(Miles) Number
CSS-2 1 Liquid Transportable 1,900 5 to 10
CSS-5 2 Solid Road-mobile 1,100+ <50
CSS-5 2 Solid Road-mobile 1,100+ <50
CSS-5 2 Solid Mobile 1,100 <30
CSS-5 2 Solid Mobile 900+ Not Yet Deployed
Agni II 2 Solid Rail-mobile 1,250+ <10
Agni III 2 Solid Rail-mobile 2,000+ Not yet deployed
Ghauri 1 Liquid Road-mobile 800 <50
Shaheen II 2 Solid Road-mobile 1,250+ Unknown
All ranges are approximate. There may be several missiles available for each launcher. The exported CSS-2 has a conventional warhead.
Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)
China’s ICBM force is intended as a strategic nuclear deterrent. China has a relatively small force of nuclear-armed, liquid-propellant CSS-3 limited-range ICBMs and CSS-4 ICBMs capable of reaching the United States, but China has been developing and deploying advanced new mobile, solid-propellant ICBMs. Both the road-mobile, solid-fueled, CSS-10 Mod 1 and the longer-range CSS-10 Mod 2 have been deployed to units within the Second Artillery Corps. The deployment of road-mobile ICBMs is enhancing the survivability of the Chinese strategic missile force. The CSS-10 Mod 1 is capable of reaching targets throughout Europe and Asia as well as parts of Canada and the northwestern United States. The longer range CSS-10 Mod 2 will allow targeting of most of the continental United States. China could develop MIRV payloads for some of its ICBMs, and the number of warheads on Chinese ICBMs capable of threatening the United States is expected to grow to well over 100 in the next 15 years.
Missile Stages Warheads Propellant Deployment Range(Miles) Launchers
CSS-3 2 1 Liquid Silo 3,400+ 10 to 15
CSS-4 2 1 Liquid Silo 8,000+ About 20
CSS-10 3 1 Solid Road-mobile 4,500+ <15
CSS-10 3 1 Solid Road-mobile 7,000+ <15
All ranges are approximate. These estimates do not include range-extension from the post-boost vehicle; some post-boost vehicles provide substantial range extension.
Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs)
China currently has a single XIA Class SSBN that is intended to carry 12 CSS-NX-3/JL-1 missiles. In addition, the Chinese will deploy the new CSS-NX-14/JL-2 SLBM on new 12-tube JIN Class SSBNs. This missile will, for the first time, allow Chinese SSBNs to target portions of the United States from operating areas located near the Chinese coast.
India is developing two new naval systems, the Sagarika SLBM (which is expected to become operational after 2010) and the Dhanush ship-launched ballistic missile (a naval version of the Prithvi land-based ballistic missile). The Dhanush is undergoing sea-based flight tests from an Indian naval surface ship.
Missile Stages Warheads Propellant Submarine Range(Miles) Number
CSS-NX-3/ 2 1 Solid XIA 1,000+ 12;
JL-1 ( Not yet deployed)
CSS-NX-14/ 3 1 Solid JIN 4,500+ 12;
JL-2 (Not yet deployed)
Sagarika Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown 180+
(Not yet deployed)
Land Attack Cruise Missiles (LACMs)
Missile Launch Mode Warhead Range(Miles) Operational By
YJ-63 Air Conventional Unknown Unknown
DH-10 Unknown Conventional/Nuclear Unknown Unknown
Brahmos-A Air Conventional 150+ 2010+
The report does not mention the Brahmos ground-launched version.
RA’AD Air Conventional/Nuclear 200 Unknown
Babur Ground Conventional/Nuclear 200 Unknown
The report also acknowledges, ‘China is producing technologically advanced ballistic missiles and has sold ballistic missile technology to other countries. China has an extensive theater missile program and has deployed a large force of ballistic missiles in the vicinity of Taiwan. China is expanding the reach of this force to attempt to prevent foreign powers from becoming involved in any future regional conflict. China can already target the United States with a relatively small force of ICBMs, and China’s ICBM force will grow considerably.