China Ballistic Missiles and Nuclear Arms Thread


ZeEa5KPul

Junior Member
Registered Member
That's not how it works! The Trident D5s are loaded onto subs that go on patrol and unloaded from them when the subs need maintenance etc from a pool of missiles. The pool of missiles is shared between the UK and US who put their own warheads into the missiles. The missiles themselves need maintenance and have a shelf life in fact lockMart were given orders for additional missiles just last year!

The number of warheads is not simply a case of multiply by biggest number of everything! That's why doing one minute searches in wikipedia to generate "facts" is not the way to go!
Cut the number in half if you like, my point doesn't change.

The bunker, silo, missile defense and hardened tunnel network in China is absolutely massive, if not the largest in the world by far. All of that costs order of magnitudes more than the warheads to fill them out.
Which is why it's absolutely wasteful and mental not to build the warheads and missiles to fill them out. It's like buying a Lambo but all it does is collect dust in the garage because you're too cheap to buy gas for it.
 
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Anlsvrthng

Senior Member
Registered Member
Many people said that the nuke warheads are expensive to maintain ... how expensive is it? ... why Russia with such limited defense budget could afford to have thousands nuke warheads ? I don't think China has any issues with the cost of maintaining the nukes ... and also China has enough plutonium (~3.6 tons) and HEI (~17 tons) for many thousands nukes. And for thermonuclear bomb, only small quantity of U-235 and Pu-239 is required. All (or most) Chinese nukes are thermonuclear bomb (hydrogen bomb) anyway

Training, supervision, security , developed vetting and so on.

This is the most expensive, and not just because of money .
 

plawolf

Brigadier
Russian and Us nuclear stockpiles are needlessly vast, and are largely the result of legacy choices. All of that costs significant amounts of money to maintain and replace.

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Just as an example, the US is looking to be spending nearly half a trillion dollars to upgrade its old weapons; or roughly 6% of its defence spending over the course of the programme. That’s just upgrades and does not cover routine maintenance and security.

Russian conventional forces are falling further and further behind the rest of the world because its strategic forces eat up a huge part of the defence budget.

Scientists have estimated that it would only take a few hundred nukes to create a nuclear winter that would be an existential threat to all human life on Earth. So getting thousands of warheads is like trying to gear up to win the worst kind of Pyrrhic victory.

Whatmore, from a purely technical standpoint, 300 nukes is more than enough to erase the US as a nation from the face of the earth. Take away the 300 biggest and most important population centres, and throw a few more into key water sources for extra vindictiveness, and what is left is going to struggle to just survive.

It’s not the number if warheads that is the limitation, but the delivery method. And that is precisely what China has been working on.

With the DF31 and DF41, MRV’ed to boost survivability with penetration aids more than purely to add more warheads; JL2 and 094, with 096 not far off in the future; the new H20 stealth strategic bomber; work on hypersonic gliders etc; China now can reliably hit the US with more nuclear warheads than ever before in history; and that number is only set to increase significantly more as the aforementioned projects mature and enter service in increasing numbers.

Even without increasing warheads numbers, China is significantly boosting its nuclear deterrent to entering MAD territory for the first time in history.

Adding warheads is essentially meaningless and counterproductive without investment in reliable and survivable delivery methods.

But if China develops the delivery methods needed to reliably drop 300 multi-megaton yield city busters anywhere on the CONUS from launch points in or closely around its boarders, it has MAD already. More will Nukes will just eat up more of your defence budget for no additional deterrence value.
 

Josh Luo

Junior Member
Registered Member
Developing small tactical nukes to escalate to de-escalate is the definition of intimidation. You need to understand that concept. There is so far no evidence that anybody thinks that actually dropping a few nukes on another nuclear country will de-escalate instead of bring about MAD.

But also, your reply is no longer a true continuation of the conversation. Your original thesis in #2943 seems to be that China can't possibly have a large nuclear force because some foreigner's "analysis" said so and in #2945 which you quoted, I rebutted that. Your reply here does not continue that conversation in any real way and I no longer understand your point if you have one.
Maybe we have different definitions of the word "intimidation" then. My point is that the Russian, French, North Korea, and Pakistani nuclear doctrine is meant to use tactical nuclear weapons FIRST in order to "intimidate" rivals into backing down. The Indian and Chinese doctrines are based on No First Use, but both would be required to respond with large-yield strategic nukes if they were attacked with either tactical or strategic warheads, which in itself would be an escalation from tactical nuclear warfare into strategic ones. Totally disproportional. However, the reality is that since there are countries and government contemplating First Use, maybe China and India should deploy tactical nukes in order to have one last threshold before escalating to the point where the human civilization would be annihilated by strategic nukes. This is where I actually disagree with Jeffrey Lewis. You might think this one last threshold would be meaningless if shots were to be fired in anger, but who knows? The danger of great power wars has always been on the horizon, but one great power war does not have to lead to the end of human civilization. Tactical nukes might be fired in anger, but does such scenario HAVE to lead to strategic nuclear exchange? I don't think so. That's why I think having a small arsenal of tactical nukes by both India and China allow both countries to have some proportional battlefield retaliatory options rather than being limited to annihilating the human race should these two countries be attacked by tactical nukes on battlefields.
 
Maybe we have different definitions of the word "intimidation" then. My point is that the Russian, French, North Korea, and Pakistani nuclear doctrine is meant to use tactical nuclear weapons FIRST in order to "intimidate" rivals into backing down. The Indian and Chinese doctrines are based on No First Use, but both would be required to respond with large-yield strategic nukes if they were attacked with either tactical or strategic warheads, which in itself would be an escalation from tactical nuclear warfare into strategic ones. Totally disproportional. However, the reality is that since there are countries and government contemplating First Use, maybe China and India should deploy tactical nukes in order to have one last threshold before escalating to the point where the human civilization would be annihilated by strategic nukes. This is where I actually disagree with Jeffrey Lewis. You might think this one last threshold would be meaningless if shots were to be fired in anger, but who knows? The danger of great power wars has always been on the horizon, but one great power war does not have to lead to the end of human civilization. Tactical nukes might be fired in anger, but does such scenario HAVE to lead to strategic nuclear exchange? I don't think so. That's why I think having a small arsenal of tactical nukes by both India and China allow both countries to have some proportional battlefield retaliatory options rather than being limited to annihilating the human race should these two countries be attacked by tactical nukes on battlefields.
OK, but my definition of "intimidation" actually agrees with the definition stated in the English dictionary.

Certainly China should build tactical nuclear weapons but this is not the point of the discussion; I would have never bothered to reply if that was your thesis. We were discussing something else, how you thought China's nuclear numbers must be accurately reflected by Lewis' estimate and some other stuff extending to how having too many nukes in China risks losing one to a rogue general??? That's how this discussion came about. What you're saying now is generally fine (except that 1. this is not about India and 2. answering a tactical nuclear strike with a strategic nuclear strike is not an escalation since once things go nuclear, shit already hit the fan) but it is not tied to or a continuation of the previous conversation.
 

Josh Luo

Junior Member
Registered Member
We were discussing something else, how you thought China's nuclear numbers must be accurately reflected by Lewis' estimate and some other stuff extending to how having too many nukes in China risks losing one to a rogue general??? That's how this discussion came about.
Actually I did not explain my point clearly then. I meant that I suspect Lewis' point could be true with regard to China. However, if China's nuclear arsenal were indeed structured as what Lewis' analyzed (including zero tactical nukes, a very limited strategic nuke arsenal possibly with more rockets than warheads available, and CMC's fear of rogue generals), I think that would be very unwise on the part of the Chinese. There is a reason why tactical nukes exist, and there is always the chance that deterrence might fail, especially on battlefields. Actually if one has to respond with strategic nukes after being attacked by a small number of tactical nukes on the battlefield, it would be a sign of weakness that one has run out of good options. That's where I start to disagree with Dr. Lewis because a No First Use based on a limited, but large yield, disproportionate second-strike arsenal could be a sign of dearth of good options in times of crises. It is a good sign that Trump sees the potential benefits of tactical nukes, but America's rivals have to have these tactical nukes, too in order for the world to be safer, so a limited tactical nuclear war does not automatically lead to ICBM exchanges. In other words, while tactical nukes lower the threshold of nuclear weapons usage, it also increases the threshold of strategic nuclear exchange as warring parties have more options.
 
Actually I did not explain my point clearly then. I meant that I suspect Lewis' point could be true with regard to China. However, if China's nuclear arsenal were indeed structured as what Lewis' analyzed (including zero tactical nukes, a very limited strategic nuke arsenal possibly with more rockets than warheads available, and CMC's fear of rogue generals), I think that would be very unwise on the part of the Chinese. There is a reason why tactical nukes exist, and there is always the chance that deterrence might fail, especially on battlefields. Actually if one has to respond with strategic nukes after being attacked by a small number of tactical nukes on the battlefield, it would be a sign of weakness that one has run out of good options. That's where I start to disagree with Dr. Lewis because a No First Use based on a limited, but large yield, disproportionate second-strike arsenal could be a sign of dearth of good options in times of crises. It is a good sign that Trump sees the potential benefits of tactical nukes, but America's rivals have to have these tactical nukes, too in order for the world to be safer, so a limited tactical nuclear war does not automatically lead to ICBM exchanges. In other words, while tactical nukes lower the threshold of nuclear weapons usage, it also increases the threshold of strategic nuclear exchange as warring parties have more options.
Well, what basically happened is that you suspect Lewis' analysis to be true because you tried to fit evidence into his conclusion under the assumption that it's true, going as far as to say that since we see X DF-41 in one spot, that likely means that they're all there whereas one would normally take that to suggest an abundance to the number seen since it's very unlikely to see them all in one place.

For example, if a scientist told you that a certain creature is very rare on a huge island and he estimates that there are only about 10 of them, and the first thing you see when you get to the island's shores is 8 of them running around in plain sight, I would conclude with almost complete certainty that the scientist's estimates are severely off. But by your logic, you conclude that you're seeing 8/10 and there are only 2 more on the entire island that you aren't currently looking at. If you still don't understand why your line of reasoning is faulty, I can't help you.

I don't understand why you might think that responding to being hit with a tactical nuke with a strategic nuke is a weakness. By that logic, all escalation is weakness. Let me be as clear as possible: if someone launches any kind of nuclear weapon at your country, all gloves come off and all nukes fly. Your only path forward is to end that country forever for nuking you. You don't answer a tactical nuke with a strategic nuke because you answer a tactical nuke with every tactical and strategic nuke. There is no logic in the world that says, "You launched a small nuke at me, so I launch a small nuke at you, nothing bigger. You nuke a town of mine, I nuke a town of yours; for me to escalate to city is weakness." You think nuking people is a game? This is war and everyone's lives!
 

Biscuits

Junior Member
Registered Member
First off, I think it’s time to cool it with the borderline country bashing...

Tactical nukes are a weapon of last resort used when your systems are too short ranged, weak and/or inaccurate to fight back. It would be counterproductive for a nation which leads the world in missile development to stockpile such weapons. Far more devastating results than what tactical nukes could do can be accomplished by existing “anti-system” war using massed precision strike and electronic warfare.

There are quite a few levels of escalation between a single tactical nuke, or even a single strategical nuke and full nuclear exchange.

If a tactical warhead is used in a hypothetical conflict, China could either choose to ignore it and double down on conventional warfare - which is likely to cause more devastation than the enemy tactical nuke attack.

However, if many tactical warheads are used, another option would be to launch a single strategic nuke towards a 2nd tier enemy target. The Soviets believed a strategic nuclear strike against a single semi important target could force ceasefire through destruction.

Of course, there is a real risk that the enemy would respond by sending it’s own strategic nukes, but that is why China has developed extensive nuclear defenses in addition to it’s nuclear offense. If a handful of enemy strategic nukes are shot down, the whole world would likely hurry to make sure a ceasefire happens.

The end goal of the PLA nuclear doctrine seems to be the ability to send single, deescalating nuke strikes with impunity in order to ensure that conflicts are kept conventional, even against nuclear powers. If it could be achieved, it would represent a higher state than mutual assured destruction that forbids “hot” wars between nuclear powers, but it could also kickstart a new arms race.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
False.

China's economy is already larger than the US's ($27 trillion vs. $20 trillion) and its growth momentum and potential are much greater. Write "China's economy is larger than America's" on a blackboard a hundred times like Bart Simpson if you need to - whatever you do, internalize that fact. This kind of "China's a poor country" thinking is going to send it into an abyss.
Just to add, the Australian government expects that by 2030-2035, the Chinese economy will be twice the size of the US.

As per the Australian Treasury and also the official Defence White Paper.

It's part of the reason why there is so much angst in Australia
 

ZeEa5KPul

Junior Member
Registered Member
@plawolf, it's not just about the stock of warheads and delivery systems, it's about how many of them survive a first strike. Your example with 300 warheads destroying the US implies that all 300 survive the first strike and make it through the missile defenses. Optimistically, 90% would be destroyed or inoperable. 50% of those surviving would make it through the missile defenses. I don't think 15 warheads would destroy America.

China's defense budget is between $350 and $500 billion (in PPP, the only worthwhile way to calculate it) and growing like a weed. China ramping up its nuclear arsenal from 300 to 2000-3000 over a period of 10-15 years is comfortably achievable. Now that China has the delivery systems like the DF-41/JL-3/DF-5C to get the job done, it's exactly the right time to do it.
 

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