Concerned about China, countries in the region are either ordering or seeking to develop their own missiles to expand their missile stockpiles.
Concerns about China
Recently published reports based on satellite images show that China is building 230 new bunkers for intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads with a range that can reach far to America. The construction of these missile silos represents the expansion of China’s missile capabilities and marks the latest chapter in the country’s military development. However, analysts warn that could spark a missile race in Asia.
Concerned about China, countries in the region are ordering or seeking to develop their own missiles to expand their long-range missile arsenals. Many of them are not only equipped with conventional warheads, but can also carry nuclear warheads.
“In light of China’s rapid rise in influence in recent years, there’s really been a missile race,” said Patrick Cronin, chair of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Hudson Institute. taking place in the Indo-Pacific. To put it bluntly, it’s an accelerating rocket race.”
According to Mr. Cronin, countries, such as South Korea, or members of the Quartet including India, Japan, Australia and the US see the threat from China in different aspects, but all have in common. aimed at countering Beijing’s influence.
The Chinese military, one of the largest in the world, is developing the ability to conduct long-range operations. The missiles China uses, especially the DF-21 and DF-26, pose a threat to buffer zones that countries such as the US and Australia have long seen as advantageous. “Distance is no longer an issue for Chinese missiles. So these countries have to strengthen their own offensive and defensive capabilities.”
America’s allies in the region, especially Japan and South Korea, have long relied on US military support to bolster their defense capabilities. However, the uncertainty in Washington’s security commitment has prompted it to seek ways to upgrade and diversify its firepower.
“Over the years, the United States has proven itself to be a responsible country in protecting its allies, but it is also not immune to negligence. Or it could be that these countries do not want to be completely dependent on the United States. They want to be on the lookout for a risk situation,” said Mr. Cronin.
Increase missile stockpile
Concerned about China’s activities in the waters near the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, Japan increased the range of the Type 12 anti-ship cruise missile from 200km to 900km and aimed at the ultimate target of 1,000km. . Tokyo also deployed Type 12 and other anti-aircraft missiles in the Ryukyu Islands near Taiwan (China). In addition, Japan also plans to develop two new hypersonic weapons: Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectiles (HVGP) and hypersonic cruise missiles (Hypersonic Cruising Missile – HCM). HVGP is a mobile ground-based complex using solid-fuel rockets with a high-speed glider warhead, with an expected range of about 500km, able to penetrate the deck of an aircraft carrier. Tokyo hopes to be able to deploy the weapon by 2026.
Tokyo has expressed a desire to possess long-range missiles that can be launched from aircraft and ships. In a defense white paper released in mid-January, Japan made the procurement of anti-aircraft missiles one of its main priorities.
Australia is also strengthening its military capabilities amid increased competition in the region. Australian Prime Minister Morrison said the country would expand its plans to possess a long-range strike capability at sea and on land. Canberra is buying 200 long-range anti-ship missiles from the US and investing $1 billion to develop domestically-guided missiles. This funding is also used to develop hypersonic weapons and long-range anti-ship missiles (LRASM) launched from ships, in consultation with the United States.
India continues to develop its own missile arsenal to counter China. New Delhi has ordered new long-range air defense and cruise missiles, developed submarine-launched ballistic missiles for Arihant-class nuclear submarines, and researched a hypersonic version of the Brahmos cruise missile. . In addition, the country also seeks to increase the range of Brahmos missiles from 400km to 800km.
Last July, South Korea successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile for the first time. The Hyunmoo-2B missile, which has a range of 500km, is likely to be fitted to the country’s Dosan Ahn Chang Ho-class submarines in the future. After reaching an agreement with Washington to extend the range of the South Korean missile system from 300km to 800km, Seoul can now build missiles with a longer range.
A large number of missiles located in strategic locations along the Indo-Pacific region and missiles launched from aircraft, ships and submarines can help the United States and its allies strengthen their counter-attack capabilities. anti-blockade (A2/AD) under pressure from Beijing.
“That means if China thinks it can take aggressive actions without too much risk, they’re wrong,” Cronin said.
However, this expert also noted that while missile capabilities are an “essential” and key part of the competition with China, it is not the most important part. While urgently improving and expanding their missile stockpiles, countries still need to maintain deterrence capabilities and avoid aggressive behavior.
“People don’t want to say that there is an arms race in Asia. But in fact, this race is moving very fast,” said expert Cronin.