Beijing, Jun 11: Amid escalation of maritime tensions with neighbours and a US military focus shift to Asia Pacific, Chinese military is stepping up its conventional missile capability, polishing its ability to carry out multiple launches while preserving its strategic nuclear deterrence.
“Conventional missiles are a trump card in modern warfare. So we must be ready at any time. We must be able to deliver a quick response to attacks, hit the targets with high accuracy, and destroy them totally,” Tan Weihong, Commander of Second Artillery Force, which handles conventional and nuclear missiles said in a rare interview.
The conventional missile brigade was thrown open to the official English media for the first time after it was established, lifting a veil of mystery.
“The unit first grabbed attention in July 1995, when China announced the PLA would carry out missile tests in the high seas. Six missiles were fired in a week and each successfully hit their target.
“The missions announced to the world that China had both nuclear and conventional missiles, and thereby a strengthened military deterrence system,” the state-run China Daily said.
“Before that, China had only nuclear missiles. The Gulf War in 1990 helped the nation's military leaders realise that conventional missiles were playing a bigger role in modern warfare,” it said.
China has upgraded its missiles in the past few years several times, the brigade's armament has been updated several times, the Daily report said.
Meanwhile, with the increase of missile launching units over the years, the brigade had to develop a new commanding system to replace the old one that was based on vocal orders.
“The new system can handle multiple launches at the same time, which was impossible in the past,” Tan said.