Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part LXXXVII

form follows function

See that beautiful bird on the top of the post? That was the late-great Pershing II of the Reagan Era that helped the Soviet Union fall apart.

It was exceptionally good for a nuclear weapon delivery vehicle with a very impressive accuracy. As it was nuclear only and we made agreements with an empire that eventually went away - we let that capability go.

The Chinese and others have not. They have hundreds of conventional short/intermediate/medium range ballistic missiles in their inventory ready to go. We have ... well ... pictures.

In the four decades since we decommissioned the Pershing II, a lot has happened. The Communist Chinese have - with our willing help - risen to challenge the USA. They have also had a great record of success stealing our civilian and military technology through a combination of old fashioned HUMINT, hacking, and flooding universities and research institutions with the money and grad students who get access to all sorts of records long filed and forgotten.

In most things there are distinct trends & "families" of designs. 

Pershing II has a distinct look, as do the CSS-5 (DF-17) & DS-26 - the two missiles that give the most bother to those in the USN looking at sustaining the fight west of Wake Island.

Form follows function et al, so this might just be good math doing its job, but the CCP's successful history if espionage shouldn't be dismissed. The Chinese desire to let others do their basic research for them is a hard habit to break.

Has anyone dug deeply in to the reasons that the CCP missiles we have grown to have such concern for ... have a familial resemblance to the Pershing II?

In a way, it doesn't matter. They have them by the hundreds while we are bragging that we can have a ship the size of a WWII destroyer toting around four foreign designed ASCM to ... tote them around.

Everyone needs to head over and read the Ballistic and Cruise Missile Thread report for 2020 by the  National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) in collaboration with the Defense Intelligence Ballistic Missile Analysis Committee (DIBMAC).

Here's something to kick things off ... and then look at the children of Pershing II below;

China continues to deploy nuclear-armed MRBMs to maintain regional nuclear deterrence, and its long-term, comprehensive military modernization is improving the capability of its conventionally armed ballistic missile force to conduct high-intensity regional military operations, including “antiaccess and area denial” (A2/AD) operations. 

Currently, China deploys the CSS-5 Mod 2 for regional nuclear deterrence. China has the conventionally-armed CSS-5 Mod 4 and Mod 5 MRBMs to conduct precision strikes. The CSS-5 Mod 4 (DF-21C) is intended to hold at risk or strike logistics and communication nodes, regional military bases and airfields, or ports. China has also deployed the CSS-5 Mod 5 (DF-21D), an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) with a range exceeding 1,500 km and a maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) that gives the PLA the capability to attack aircraft carriers in the western Pacific Ocean. 

According to a Chinese CCTV report, the DF-21D brigades are capable of quickly reloading in the field and launching multiple salvo strikes within a few hours. During the PLA’s 90th Anniversary Parade in July 2017, China displayed a new MRBM designated the DF-16G, which China claims features high accuracy, short preparation time, and an improved maneuverable terminal stage that can better infiltrate missile defense systems. 

As part of its National Day Parade in October 2019 celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Peoples’ Republic of China, China displayed its DF-17 medium-range hypersonic missile.

 h/t Ankit Panda.

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