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China will soon have missiles on subs: US commander


WASHINGTON (PTI): China will likely have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent later this year, part of the rapid modernisation of its military capabilities, a top US officer has said.

"China continues the production of ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). The platform will carry a new missile with an estimated range of more than 4,000 nm (7,500 km). This will give the China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, probably before the end of 2014," Admiral Samuel J Locklear, Commander of the US Pacific Command, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Acknowledging that China has gained "greater influence" in the world, Locklear said the Chinese military modernisation effort is increasingly focused on developing the capabilities to deny US access to the Western Pacific during a time of crisis or conflict and to provide the means by which China can bolster its broad maritime claims in the region.

"The Chinese military continues to pursue a long-term, comprehensive military modernisation programme designed to improve the capability of its armed forces to project power to fight and win a short-duration, high-intensity regional military conflict," he said.

"While preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait appears to remain the principal focus of their military investment, China's interests have grown and it has gained greater influence in the world, with its military modernisation increasingly focused on expanding power projection capabilities into the East China Sea, South China Sea, the Western Pacific, and even the Indian Ocean," he said.

"This expansion, in part, is focused on developing the capabilities to deny US access to the Western Pacific during a time of crisis or conflict and to provide the means by which China can bolster its broad maritime claims in the region," Locklear said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Chinese military operations are expanding in size, complexity, duration and geographic location; he said adding that during 2013, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy conducted the highest number of open ocean voyages and training exercises seen to date.

This included the largest ever Chinese military naval exercise observed outside the first island chain and into the Western Pacific, highlighting an enhanced power projection capability and increased ability to use military exercises to send political messages to regional allies and partners and others in Asia, he said.

This expansion in Chinese military power projection is driven by the rapid modernisation of Chinese military capabilities, he said.

Over the course of the last year, the PLA continued large-scale investment in advanced short- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles, land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles, counter-space weapons, military cyberspace capabilities, and improved capabilities in nuclear deterrence and long-range conventional strike, advanced fighter aircraft, integrated air defences, undersea warfare, and command and control.

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China  Missiles  Submarine  US  

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