China has upgraded installations of medium-range ballistic missile systems along its southeastern coast, aimed at Taiwan and nations friendly to it, a report from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies said.
The report by researcher Decker Eveleth, which was cited in an article published in the South China Morning Post on Sunday, said that satellite images showed a buildup of rocket installations in southeast China, where missiles with a range of 1,000km were installed to be used against Taiwan and nations friendly to it in the event of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait.
Separately, Kapil Kajal, a defense reporter for the military and security intelligence company Janes, said that China has been upgrading older short-range missiles with newer DF-17 missiles that could hit foreign bases and fleets in the Western Pacific.
The DF-17 was upgraded from previous missile systems to use the DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle, which suppresses its trajectory and accelerates to reach speeds of Mach 5 or greater, enabling it to avoid enemy radar and ballistic-missile defense systems, he said.
The missile has a range of 1,800km to 2,500km.
In the event of a conflict, China would likely first launch its nearly 1,000 short-range and medium-range missiles at Taiwan, including the DF-17s, which could reach Taiwan proper in six to eight minutes, Eveleth said.
The importance of missiles in Beijing’s attack strategy is highlighted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force, which was upgraded from the previous PLA Second Artillery Corps in 2016, and played a key role in China’s live-fire drills and simulated attacks against Taiwan in August last year and April, he said.
Use of the DF-17s would reduce the time Taiwan would have to receive early warning of an attack, and they would likely be used to take out air defense facilities to aid the use of other missiles against Taiwan, he said.
However, as many US facilities are out of range of the DF-17, including those on Guam and other major US naval bases, and its fleets, China would manufacture more DF-26s, which have a range of up to 3,000km, he said, adding that he believes the DF-26 is the most important missile in China’s arsenal.
The DF-26 has already been deployed in China’s Anhui Province and Xinjiang region, and there are facilities being built in Liaoning Province, Eveleth said.
Since the DF-26 systems are inland, they are difficult to target, and are also near nuclear facilities, making it easy to equip them with nuclear warheads, he said, adding that any attempt to suppress the DF-26s would come at the risk of striking nuclear facilities.
Source: Taipei Times