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Taiwan And The Ballistic Behemoth
by James Dunnigan
September 30, 2012

Taiwan is now certain that China has over the last four years added 200 more ballistic missiles to the 1,400 already aimed at the island nation. That's up from 200 in 2000, and 800 eight years ago. Despite the peace seeking rhetoric from the Chinese, the Taiwanese still have to deal with this unprecedented array of ballistic missiles aimed at them.

While China began adding new DF-16 missiles recently, most of the ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan are DF-11 and DF-15 models. The DF-11 (also known as the M11) weighs 4.2 tons, has a range of 300 kilometers, and carries a .8 ton warhead. The DF-15 (M9) weighs 6.2 tons, has a range of 700 kilometers, and carries a half ton warhead. Both of these are solid fuel missiles, as is the new the DF-16.

There are also over a thousand Chinese warplanes, over 100,000 troops (including several brigades of paratroopers) and dozens of major (and over a hundred smaller) warships available for an attack on Taiwan. The missiles would use high explosive or cluster bomb warheads and would basically be bombs that could not be stopped. Well, that's not exactly the case. Taiwan is investing in an anti-missile system that would negate a large number of the Chinese missiles.

If used, perhaps 75 percent of the missiles would actually hit their target (the others would suffer failures in propulsion or guidance systems). Each missile is the equivalent of a half-ton or one ton aircraft bomb. Until recently the missiles had primitive guidance systems, meaning that the warheads will usually hit up to 500 meters from the target. Over the last two years the Chinese are believed to have equipped many of these missiles with GPS, although the Taiwanese can jam this. Guidance systems that are more difficult to jam are in the works, as this technology has been much sought after by Chinese spies in the United States over the last few years.

 


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