'Indian Nuclear Force Driving Chinese Nuke Modernisation'

Lalit K Jha/Washington
'Indian Nuclear Force Driving Chinese Nuke Modernisation'

As the Chinese military spreads its wings globally and seeks to establish a strong foothold in the strategic Indian Ocean region, India's nuclear force is an additional driver behind the modernisation of China's nuclear forces, the Pentagon told the US Congress today.

"India's nuclear force is an additional driver behind China's nuclear force modernisation. The PLA (People's Liberation Army) has deployed new command, control, and communications capabilities to its nuclear forces," the Pentagon said in its latest China report to the Congress.

These capabilities improve the PLA's Second Artillery Force's ability to command and control multiple units in the field, the report said.

Through the use of improved communications links, the ICBM units now have better access to battlefield information, uninterrupted communications connecting all command echelons, and unit commanders are able to issue orders to multiple subordinates at once, instead of serially, via voice commands, it said.

Observing that limited logistical support remains a key obstacle preventing the PLA Navy from operating more extensively beyond East Asia, particularly in the Indian Ocean, the Pentagon said China desires to expand its access to logistics in the Indian Ocean and will likely establish several access points in this area in the next 10 years.

These arrangements likely will take the form of agreements for refuelling, replenishment, crew rest, and low-level maintenance.

The services provided likely will fall short of permitting the full spectrum of support from repair to rearmament, the report said.

The Pentagon said China continues to pursue a long-term, comprehensive military modernisation programme designed to improve its armed forces' capacity to fight short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts.

China's military modernisation has the potential to reduce core US military technological advantages, the Pentagon said.

"China's officially-disclosed military budget grew at an average of 9.5 per cent per year in inflation-adjusted terms from 2005 through 2014, and China will probably sustain defence spending growth at comparable levels for the foreseeable future," it said.

"Moreover, China is investing in capabilities designed to defeat adversary power projection and counter third-party — including US - intervention during a crisis or conflict".

According to the report, China is developing and testing new intermediate- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles, as well as long-range, land-attack, and anti-ship cruise missiles that extend its operational reach, attempting to push adversary forces — including the US - farther from potential regional conflicts.

China is also focusing on counter-space, offensive cyber operations, and electronic warfare capabilities meant to deny adversaries the advantages of modern, informationised warfare, the report said.

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