BEIJING – 55 years ago, on October 16, 1964, China tested its first atomic bomb. Today Beijing has 290 nuclear warheads at its disposal, making it the third largest arsenal in the world after Russia and the US.
According to Andrei Kots, Soviet experts helped the Chinese develop their nuclear weapons.
Triad of Arms
From 1950 to 1960, China was visited by about 10,000 USSR nuclear industry workers. However, relations between the two countries worsened in subsequent years and the Soviet Union reduced its aid program. Even so, China quickly made the atomic bomb on its own.
A year after the first ground test, the Chinese dropped a warhead from a plane and in June 1967 detonated a 3.3 megaton hydrogen bomb. China thus became the world’s fourth nuclear power after the USSR, the US and the UK.
Today, Beijing has a true “triad” of weapons of mass destruction, mounted on aircraft, land and sea platforms, writes Kots.
In May, the Pentagon published a report on China’s strategic potential and military developments in 2019.
According to estimates, China has about 90 intercontinental ballistic missiles. The most advanced Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile is the Dongfeng-41, capable of launching from 10 to 12 individually oriented nuclear warheads at a distance of about 14,000 kilometers.
Pentagon analysts suggest that China’s nuclear arsenal has grown significantly in recent years.
As noted in early October by the US Military Watch, escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington push China to create more effective systems for launching weapons of mass destruction.
Chinese aircraft and ships
The maritime component of China’s nuclear deterrent force is represented by four Jin (Type-094) nuclear submarines capable of carrying 12 Julang-2 (JL-2) ballistic missiles with a range of eight to nine thousand kilometers, a Military Balance report said.
China is now developing a new-generation strategic submarine, the Type-096, scheduled for launch in 2020. Especially for these submarines will be created a new family of ballistic missiles, Julang-3, with a range of up to 12,000 kilometers.
In September 2016, Beijing officially confirmed the development of a new generation strategic bomber, the Xian H-20, with a range of over eight thousand kilometers.
The new aircraft is expected to replace the old H-6 strategic bomber fleet. The Chinese Air Force and Navy have 170 such vehicles in various versions. Depending on the modification, the H-6s can carry up to nine tons of bombs, including thermonuclear bombs, air-to-surface and air-to-ship cruise missiles.
In addition, according to US experts, China has an impressive arsenal of up to 80 Dongfeng-26 medium-range ballistic missile units, which could drop a nuclear warhead to 3,000-5,500 kilometers.
Equipped with conventional warheads, these missiles can be used to destroy large surface ships, being called “carrier killers”.
According to experts, it was the existence of an impressive number of medium and short-range missiles in China that caused the US to withdraw from the treaty on the elimination of such weapons.