Is China deploying its own missile defense system?

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-08-22 11:26

Senior Colonel Chen Deming, 49-year-old, has participated in hundreds of rounds of missile flight test missions and led in China's project of "Anti-missile Range Test Technology". (Photo by Wang Sijiang)

----Missile and anti-missile are known as the spear and shield of new combat forces. Without anti-missile technology, the national security will be exposed to other countries' missile haze. In 2010, China successfully tested its anti-missile technology, and brought back the strategic balance.

BEIJING, Aug. 19 (ChinaMil) -- "To develop suitable capabilities of missile defense is necessary for China to maintain national security and improve defense capabilities. It is not targeting any other country or target nor is it jeopardizing the international strategic equilibrium," said Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesman Senior Colonel Yang Yujun at the ministry's press conference on July 28, 2016.

At the press conference, a reporter asked Yang that there have been frequent media coverage focusing on Chen Deming, an expert on missile and anti-missile test, and China has also officially published images of its medium-range anti-missile test and released the first video clip of its ground-based midcourse missile interception. Does this mean that China is deploying its own missile defense system?

Then, the question is who is Chen Deming?

"With whatever it takes"

An interceptor missile soared to the sky on January 11, 2010, in the northwest desert of China. A few minutes later, an iconic flash lighted on the screen in the ground commanding office, signaling that the interceptor missile successfully hit the target missile.

"This means that China's first ground-based midcourse missile interception test is successful," said Chen Deming. He recalled that he even jumped up excitedly.

This scene was not released until recently, coinciding with the time when the U.S. announced plans to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile battery in North Gyeongsang of South Korea. This is the first time PLA disclosed details of its midcourse anti-missile test.

"The problem is not whether the war will break out, but when. Our task is to develop the 'trump card' weapon for China before the war." To that end, Chen Deming spent 26 years in the desert for this goal.

After graduating from the PLA National University of Defense Technology in July 1990, Chen Deming has dedicated to the research on missile test identification and orbit technology, as well as anti-missile range test. His research base is located deep in the northwest desert, which is the birthplace of China's "Two Bombs, One Satellite".

Over the years, many sophisticated missiles and other weapons all had their tests in this place. In the 1950s when the international situation was intense with rampant nuclear blackmail, Mao Zedong picked his little finger and said in Beijing that "atomic bomb is such a small thing, but in order not to get bullied, we cannot live without this stuff."

A mysterious force quietly returned from bloody battlefield of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea and advanced to the desert to set up China's first integrated missile test range. The range witnessed the successful launch of China's first missile and first nuclear missile. It was the predecessor of a PLA military base in the northwestern region, and Chen Deming is a successor of this mysterious force.

Science and technology promote changes in war. In the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq's "Scud" missiles were intercepted by the U.S. "Patriot" missiles at high altitude. This alarmed Chen Deming to notice the gap.

"Anti-missile technology is so powerful that we must develop fast, deadly and precise weapons as well as the corresponding defense system, which is the inevitable trend of equipment development," said Chen.

In 2001, the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and thus all military powers stepped up anti-missile system test. China also decided to start anti-missile technology test. At that time, Chen Deming had gained some reputation in this area.

In 2006, when several units started to prepare the "anti-missile" test range demonstration, the team led by Chen naturally had "the advantages to go one step ahead" and finally, his base won the bid of the project.

China's Central Military Commission (CMC) has clearly required that the first anti-missile test must be completed in 2010. At that time, there was still a gap in China's anti-missile technology, especially in a lot of key technologies compared with that of the U.S. and other world-class military powers.

Early in the 1960s, China quietly started a major project and initially established research objectives including anti-missile interceptor. However, due to some reasons, the project was not implemented.

"It cannot be delayed. We must follow the spirits of predecessors of the 'Two Bombs, One Satellite' to achieve a technological leap even at the risk of our lives. For the sake of maintaining peace, we must have anti-missile technology," said Chen Deming to his team members.

After three years of hard work, Chen Deming's team drafted hundreds of test documents, and made breakthroughs in three key technologies.

The first ground-based midcourse missile interception test was held on January 11, 2010. In 2013, China successfully conducted another ground-based midcourse missile interception technology trial.

The belated footage finally appeared in the screen at the end of July, 2016.

China's anti-missile equipment. (Photo by Zhaodun)

"Anti-missile technology research is always on the road."

Missile and anti-missile missile are known as the spear and shield of new combat forces. Without anti-missile technology, the national security will be exposed to other countries' missile haze. In 2010, China successfully tested its anti-missile technology, and brought back the strategic balance. China is the second country in the world to successfully test such technologies.

"Missile is important, but anti-missile is the strong shield of strategic defense and an important bargaining chip in the game among major powers. For a country, it will be in completely different situation with or without an anti-missile system," Chen Deming said. This "spear and shield" is stimulating the global innovation and race in military equipment.

The British magazine The Economist reported on July 16, 2016, that Wes Kramer, head of Raytheon's integrated missile defense operations, said that as missiles can help tackle more military threats, the demand for missiles is increasing in the global scale.

In 2015, global defense spending grew by only 1 percent as many countries have experienced a substantial reduction in military budget for five years. But the global missile and missile defense systems market is growing at a rate of around 5 percent annually.

However, unlike the United States, whose deployment of National Missile Defense (NMD) system aims to guarantee first-strike capability, China has promised not to be the first to use nuclear weapons.

This means that the significance of China's anti-missile system is to improve viability of nuclear weapons after an enemy's first-strike, so that this kind of "minimum deterrence" is more efficient and reliable.

"Anti-missile test technology is advancing every second and all of the world's major powers are accelerating their development. If our technology is a little stagnant, China will not secure its place at the world area, let alone the capacity to win a war," said Chen Deming.

"Anti-missile technology research is always on the road," Chen added.


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