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Subject: The only concret data about China's ICBM precision
cateyes    7/19/2004 11:34:36 AM
On July 8, A Chinese TV program disclosed some facts of the first China's ICBM's test. Test time: 10am on May 18, 1980 Range: 9070 kms, from western China to south Pacific Flight time: 30 min 6 sec Speed: ~20M Real error: 250m, much lower than the required as stated So from the facts It can be said that the China's first generation ICBM must be city buster type, with km level error as designed. But they achieved actual error at about a few hundred meter level, which may reflect their capability at that time. What's the error level for US and Russian ICBM at that time? Considering the technical progress, insiders may estimate the precision level of China's current ICBM capability.
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displacedjim    RE:The only concret data about China's ICBM precision   7/19/2004 6:57:07 PM
From the "facts," that sounds like the first successful delivery of an ICBM RV, and if it came down that close to the aimpoint, it was a statistical fluke not soon to be repeated, as their ICBM CEPs are nowhere near that good. 250 meters for a 500kt+ warhead is hard target kill capability. I'm guessing we'd have been lucky to accomplish that regularly in 1980, and as for the Soviets.... Insiders may indeed estimate the precision of China's current ICBM capability, and it's the same now as it was then (city-busting), because the same designs are still in use. Perhaps when DF-31s and DF-41s become operational that will change. Displacedjim
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elcid    RE:The only concret data about China's ICBM precision   7/26/2004 2:35:12 AM
First, Jim is quite correct to put the word "data" in quotes. A real CEP in a real test is not going to be a nice round number like "250 meters." [It might be 247 meters, or 252 meters - but it would not be 250 meters exactly - not only a round number but a perfect sub multiple of the stated requirement of 1 km. This is bogus data in the first instance, probably a fishing expedition to get Jim or someone else to say something.] Second, Jim is correct that PRC ICBMs have never been accurate. It is expensive - and probably also technically beyond PRC capability for most of its missile history - and it is not required for the mission assigned to these weapons. PRC uses a minimum deterrence doctrine, the most economical and least threatening one in the world today. That doctrine only requires that, after riding out a nuclear attack on China, surviving launchers are able to launch a few missiles with large warheads. Being 1 km off will not matter much to Los Angelus (and the weapons may well not reach New York - if open source range data is close to correct). A multi-megaton warhead - or even a 300 kt warhead - over LA is going to be a big problem - no matter which particular city block it lands on. Chinese strategic literature has considered migrating to limited deterrence - not anything higher up the scale - and so far the cost has not justified the change. It might cost more than ten times as much for very little additional utility from the force. China's original goal has been achieved - no one threatens China with nuclear weapons any more (as Ike did in 1952 and 1954 - according to Ike). Instead, the current revolution in Chinese missile technology is geared to NON-nuclear shorter range systems. [Even one brigade of IRBMs has converted to conventional warheads and is no longer controlled by the Second Artillery - the nuclear force]. Jiang just made a speech in which he told insiders he is not worried about a general nuclear war - even though he regards a regional war as "almost inevitable" - probably "over Taiwan." He thinks even a shooting war is not a problem - he is confident in the minimum deterrence force. I have some technical reservations about that, but I am glad he feels that way.
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