|A likely DH-10 launcher on a PLAN test ship|
While the jury is still out on whether China’s J-20 stealth aircraft will serve as a long-range bomber, there is mounting evidence that the Chinese military is developing the means to launch combat operations well beyond its shores and against targets that hitherto were beyond the reach of its conventional military forces.
The latest indication, which again comes courtesy of pictures on military websites, is that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) may be testing a navalized version of the 4,000km-range Dong Hai-10 (DH-10, 東海10) land-attack cruise missile (LACM), which relies integrated inertial navigation, GPS guidance, terrain contour mapping, and scene-matching terminal-homing to reach its target.
At present, only the Second Artillery Corps and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) have a LACM capability (the air force’s variant is known as the CJ-10A). Although the PLAN has anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM), its vessels do not currently have the means to attack ground targets — a surprising weakness for a power with growing ambitions.
My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here. My initial article for JDW can be accessed here (subscription required).