New missile 'ready by 2015'
By Zhang Han and Huang Jingjing
The Chinese army is researching a new type of conventional missile that is set to be weaponized and entered into active service within five years, military sources have revealed.
China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), the nation's largest missile weaponry manufacturer, is set "to complete research, production and delivery of this new generation of missile by 2015
," the China News Service reported Thursday.
The new missile would be part of a network forming a solid defense system allowing for total coverage in both defense and attack
, and capable of dealing with various threats from land, sea, air, space as well as cybernetic attacks
, according to the report.
The report, however, did not provide any further details of the new missile.
A military source close to the development, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to the Global Times yesterday that "The subject under development is a medium- and long-range conventional missile
with a traveling distance of as far as 4,000 kilometers
"The research is going smoothly, and the missile will be produced and ready for service in five years
," he said, noting that the project would also entail a three-year evaluation period.
"It extends the range of China's missiles and will therefore greatly enhance the national defense capabilities," the source said.
The source also unveiled that "the Chinese-made Dong Feng 21D missile, with firing range between 1800 and
2800 kilometers, is already deployed in the army."
Foreign media have also speculated that the Dong Feng 21D is a "carrier killer" and would prove to be a game-changer in the Asian security environment, where US Navy aircraft carrier battle groups have ruled the waves since the end of World War II, the AP reported.
China debuted its first stealth fighter jet, the J-20, in January, in a test flight that coincided with a visit to Beijing by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Following the successful test flight, speculations and assessments of Beijing's military advancement echoed around the world.
The Pentagon this week formally rolled out a record base budget for fiscal year 2012 of $553 billion, up $22 billion from the level enacted for 2010. However, additional overseas war funding is down by $41.5 billion.
This led Gates to counter-attack, warning Congress on Wednesday against making deeper spending cuts than those already proposed, telling lawmakers that the US faces threats ranging from militants to states "developing new capabilities that target our traditional strengths," citing Iran, North Korea, as well as China, Reuters reported.
Li Daguang, a military expert at the People's Liberation Army National Defense University, told the Global Times that Thursday's revelation speaks volumes about the significant progress China had made in the field of missile technology as well as proving the country's commitments to transparency in military affairs.
"But the real combat capabilities of the missile in complicated situations remains to be tested. There is still a huge gap between China and Western countries with regard to advanced weaponry development," he said, adding that China should always remain prudent and rational when presenting its military progress.
Wang Yanan, an associate editor-in-chief at Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times that some seem to favor wild speculation where the Chinese military is concerned.
"US wariness doesn't suggest its inability to develop advanced missiles. The US is still a leader in this aspect as it possesses the most cutting-edge missile technologies," Wang said.
Song Shengxia contributed to this story