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File:300px-DF-21A TEL - Chinese Military Museum Beijing.jpg

China got The Bomb, but have no fears

They can't wipe us out for at least five years

Who's next?
Tom Lehrer, "Who's Next?"

The People's Republic of China detonated its first nuclear weapon in 1964. Since the PRC Military are secretive to say the least, the precise number of nukes that they have is unknown and estimates range from c.150 to c.400. Similarly, the range, throw-weight, number of warheads, and just about everything else published are basically guesswork. As always in these matters, remember that those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know.

China, like the former USSR, had Reporting Names and DOD designations assigned to its missiles, although these have very largely fallen out of use. They are included for the sake of completeness.

These weapons appear in fiction a small amount- evil Chinese villains don't tend to use nuclear weapons much, but they do sometimes.

If you want to get the idea of how China developed its nuclear weapons, see this clip. [1]. A nuclear test conducted with The Cavalry. The old-school, horse-riding ones.

The PLAN nuclear submarine corps have an awesome theme song, though the lyrics have some Unfortunate Implications saying that they are a response and revenge force.

Some other useful notes:

  • DF stands for Dong Feng- "East Wind", while JL stands for Ju Lang- "Giant Wave".

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

China has nearly 50 of these in all.

  • DF-5/CSS-4: Liquid-fuelled ICBM, so not exactly brilliant. Long suspected of being a upgraded copy of the Titan II, a result of Chinese espionage.
  • DF-31/CSS-9: Silo-based and rail-mobile.
    • In the Dale Brown novel Fatal Terrain, one is launched at Guam.
  • DF-31A: A more modern variant of the above with longer-range and a 3-warhead MIRV payload.
  • DF-41/CSS-X-10: The newest Chinese ICBM, thought to be undergoing deployment. Road and rail mobile, as well as silo-launchable. Possibly could carry 10-12 MIRV's, although that is largely speculative.

Other Ballistic Missiles

  • DF-2/CSS-1: The first Chinese MRBM, believed by some to be a copy of the Soviet R-5/SS-3.
  • DF-3/CSS-2: China's first indigenous MRBM, entering service c. 1970. Soon to be retired.
  • DF-4/CSS-3: Entered service around 1975, this IRBM is mainly silo-based.
  • DF-21/CSS-5: Range about 1,000 miles and available in conventional form too, in all likelihood. The biggest concern for US planners at present is a possible anti-ship capable version, which would threaten US carrier groups.
  • JL-1/CSS-N-3: Submarine-launched ballistic missile carried by the Type 092 (see below). Even with the upgraded variant, it didn't have enough range to hit the US from the Western Pacific.
  • JL-2: Much more modern and capable missile then the JL-1 to be deployed on the Type 094 (again, see below). The exact payload is unknown, although observed guesses suggests it could hold between 6-10 warheads maximum. Is confirmed too have a range of up to 14,000 kilometers.

Submarines Capable of Launching Missiles

  • Type 092/"Xia" SSBN: First Chinese SSBN, with four JL-1 missiles fitted. Noisy and unreliable, it has apparently never sailed outside Chinese regional waters and may be non-operational. Of the two built, one may have been lost with all hands in an accident in 1985.
  • Type 094/"Jin" SSBN: The newest SSBN, entering service at the moment. The Chinese have 2-3 of these, depending on whether the most recent one sighted is a entirely new boat or just a refurbishment of one of the earlier two.

Bombers and Fighter-Bombers

  • Nanchang Q-5 [Qiang-5, "Fifth Attack Design"] "Fantan": A fighter-bomber designed for close air support. About a dozen have been modified for nuclear capability. As the A-5, the type has been exported to North Korea and Bangladesh, among others. A large-scale design modification of the Soviet MiG-19 "Farmer", their first supersonic fighter, it looks very different. The nuclear capable type and one bomb was once proposed to be exported to Greece through a british middleman in case of USSR invading Greece in the 1970s, but refused.

Fictional Chinese Nukes

  • Part of the Chinese arsenal in Command and Conquer: Generals and its expansion. They have, besides silo-launched missiles, nuclear artillery, which is unique among the long-range units in the game because its nuclear shells cannot be intercepted with missile defense systems. In fact, in the expansion there is a Chinese Nuclear General - and as you would've guessed it - whose strategy revolves mostly around The Dragons Teeth. Improved nuclear tank engines and shells, nuclear carpet bombing, nuclear-tipped fighter missiles, cheaper nuclear silos, you name it. Played very straight here.
    • They mostly seem to use tactical nukes though. A real nuke would destroy the entire map.
  • In The Bear and the Dragon, nuclear-armed DF-5 ICBMs are launched at the US by a panicked missile base commander, during a war between NATO and the PRC. AH-64 Apaches that were in the area destroyed all but one missile while they were launching, with the last being intercepted just before detonating above Washington, DC.
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