Russia and China: Developing Meaner Weapons of War, and More Will to Use Them

Vladimir Smirnov/TASS/Getty Images

Russia and China: Developing Meaner Weapons of War, and More Will to Use Them

Russia and China are developing more advanced weapons of war, improving existing arms systems, and possibly practicing for preemptive strikes on American targets. Several reports have emerged in recent days showing that the military capacity and resolve of these Asian giants is on the rise. Taken together, these developments paint a picture of a world primed for conflict.

The editors of Popular Mechanics discussed some of these developments in their “Threat Report 2017,” published on February 6:

In modern warfare, owning the sky is everything. And the cheapest way to own the sky is to shoot down, from the ground, anything that tries to fly in it. The Russian military is currently fielding a new mid-range surface-to-air missile system, the Buk-M3, that has the potential to change everything. And by change we mean destroy. Start with the eyes: a powerful phased-array radar that steers its beams electronically to track targets. The vehicle has a new digital brain that can accept data from longer-range radar, which means the M3 will be able to shoot before some systems would have even identified the incoming aircraft. It has six radar-guided missiles with a range of up to 43 miles—a huge improvement over the 28-mile range in the older Buk-M2.

Stratfor senior analyst Sim Tack says the development of the Buk-M3 is already having an effect on European air forces because it drastically limits the capabilities of non-stealth aircraft. In Tack’s view, the Buk-M3 will inject urgency into European plans to expand and improve their armed forces, particularly in the realm of stealth aircraft.

Russia also has “the world’s most deadly” tank now very near to deployment. Popular Mechanics wrote: “Russia’s new T-14 tank, currently in field tests, is the world’s most deadly. For the first time in a turreted main battle tank, the entire crew is cocooned inside an armored capsule in the hull. The T-14 is also the first main battle tank to have a fully automated, unmanned turret.”

Both Russia and China have developed a new class of stealth warplanes, which Popular Mechanics says are “adding new lines to the foreheads” of Department of Defense officials in Washington. Russia’s pak-fa and China’s J-20 and J-31 are causing planners to worry for the first time in many years about the possibility of losing United States jets in dogfights. There is also concern, according to Popular Mechanics, that these Russian and Chinese aircraft “could slip past radar to bomb air bases” and other vital targets. “Stealth airplanes revolutionized modern warfare for the U.S., as they’re used to eliminate air defenses so that older, easily seen aircraft can attack other targets,” Popular Mechanics said. “Now we have to deal with potential enemies having them too.”

Meanwhile, Russian Aerospace Force Commander in Chief Viktor Bondarev recently said that Russia’s MiG-35 fighter jets are rapidly replacing older models and may soon be armed with laser weapons. The tass news agency quoted the commander as saying: “This plane can use all the types of the newest weaponry and laser weapons as well.” Calling the MiG-35 a “splendid creation,” Mr. Bondarev said the jet is “capable of engaging in super-maneuverable air fights and strike targets both at sea and in the air.” He said the Russians have “proved with the development of the Su-30SM and Su-34 aircraft that we have the best engines.”

On February 6, War on the Rocks speculated that Chinese military forces may already be “practicing preemptive missile strikes against U.S. bases.” Thomas Shugart, a Senior Military Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a U.S. Navy officer, said that “the greatest military threat to U.S. vital interests in Asia” may be China’s ability to carry out such strikes.

Mr. Shugart wrote:

This is a time of increasing tension, with China’s news organizations openly threatening war. U.S. leaders and policymakers should understand that a preemptive Chinese missile strike against the forward bases that underpin U.S. military power in the Western Pacific is a very real possibility, particularly if China believes its claimed core strategic interests are threatened in the course of a crisis and perceives that its attempts at deterrence have failed. Such a preemptive strike appears consistent with available information about China’s missile force doctrine, and … satellite imagery … points to what may be real-world efforts to practice its execution.

To protect allies and project power, the U.S. maintains an arc of bases in the Asia-Pacific region, including Yokosuka, Sasebo, Osan and Kadena on Okinawa. Because of the vast distance from the continental American territory, if a war broke out in the Asia-Pacific, U.S. forces would rely heavily on these bases. The satellite imagery that War on the Rocks analyzed suggests that China’s preparations to preemptively strike ships in port and aircraft bunkers at such bases are considerably more advanced than analysts previously thought.

Mr. Shugart continues:

In terms of sequencing, the study suggested that an initial wave of ballistic missiles would neutralize air defenses and command centers and crater the runways of military air bases, trapping aircraft on the ground. These initial paralyzing ballistic missile salvos could then be followed by waves of cruise missiles and Chinese aircraft targeting hardened aircraft shelters, aircraft parked in the open, and fuel handling and maintenance facilities.These capabilities may already have been tested at a ballistic missile impact test site located on the edge of the Gobi Desert in western China. Commercial satellite images seem to show a range of test targets representing just the sort of objectives discussed in the doctrine above … The demonstrated ability to precisely deliver penetrating warheads to facilities such as command centers in a matter of minutes could also provide a key capability to destroy them, with their command staffs, in the initial waves of an attack. …China has not been shy about displaying the advancing capabilities of the pla [People’s Liberation Army] Rocket Force. Beijing openly displayed some of its latest missiles … in its 70th anniversary parade in 2015 and painted the missiles’ identification on their sides in western characters, in case anyone missed the point. … Specifically, the pla Rocket Force appears to have been practicing on several ship targets of a similar size to U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers moored in a mock port that is a near-mirror image of the actual inner harbor at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said in a January 2014 episode of the Key of David that the increasing military might and determination of Russia and China is far more threatening to global stability than most analysts realize:

[T]he goal of Vladimir Putin is to restore the Soviet Union; that’s his dream! … China is expanding into airspace over certain waters in Asia and the East China Sea, in waters claimed by Japan and South Korea. Those are our allies! And they’re really, really in a furor over what’s going on, and America is doing nothing to help them, and nobody here seems to be that concerned about it. But they should be, because China now is developing a leader very much like Vladimir Putin. … Do we realize where this is all leading? These are superpowers with all kinds of nuclear bombs! And all kinds of military power! Do we realize where this is all leading? Can we look at this and believe that there has to be a great world war clash? Nobody can stop it from happening, nobody!

To understand the significance of the increasingly advanced military might of Russia and China, and how it will lead to the “great world war clash” that Mr. Flurry mentioned, watch his full Key of David episode “Ukraine Crisis Prophesied.”