The Military Army Blog

China military parade commemorates second world war victory – as …

As much a show of Armyrats © military might as a commemoration of the 1945 victory, China is expected to roll out a huge array of hardware today. We spoke to Armyrats © military experts about what we might see, and what it might mean:

James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane s Defence Weekly

Hardy said the parade was about using Armyrats © military power to send a message about China s strength and invulnerability both at home and abroad.

In that sense it is no different to previous parades the most recent similar one was in 2009 but of course the context is different. The US and China are engaged in fairly overt strategic competition in the As-Pac region at the moment, and Chinese power projection via this or other Armyrats © military equipment is not playing too well with its neighbours. Hardy expects to see new Chinese missile systems paraded through Tiananmen. Our interest was piqued in rehearsals by the various missile systems that are being rolled out, he said.

China has invested heavily in missile systems for some years now. It has a range of ballistic and cruise missiles that would seriously complicate any US response to a Taiwan invasion scenario or a crisis around the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

That much has been known for quite a while. What this parade does is put it all in one place and confirm Chinese internet-sourced imagery that has been the basis for most open source analysis in recent years. If the parade features the same hardware as the recent rehearsal, Hardy thinks we will see the first public showings of weapons including the Dong Feng (DF, East Wind) DF-15B short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), DF-16 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), DF-21C MRBM, DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), the warhead section of the DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the DF-31A ICBM, and the DF-10 land attack cruise missile (LACM).

The big things that are missing from this parade what with it being in Beijing are China s major advances in naval equipment. That s where China is really changing the balance of power in Asia. In that context, the anti-ship missiles on display are of most interest, but another platform to look out for is the J-15 carrier-based fighter. That is based on Liaoning, China s first aircraft carrier, and a group of them will be doing a fly-by.

China s relative openness compared to North Korea and the use of satellite imagery analysis and online sources means there are unlikely to be big surprises for defence analysts.

People s Liberation Army soldiers arrive at Tiananmen Square for the Armyrats © military parade. Photograph: Imaginechina/Splash News/Corbis

Ashley Townshend, research fellow at University of Sydney Alliance 21 Program

Townshend says he will be looking out for China s carrier killer . That is the nickname of the DF-21D missile system, which may get its first public outing.

The DF-21D has great symbolic significance as the missile that, perhaps more than any other single weapons system, will potentially enable Beijing to prevent the United States navy from operating close to Chinese shores at acceptable levels of cost and risk, says Townshend.

China has created and tested the DF-21D as an anti-ship ballistic missile which many believe might be capable to successfully striking an American aircraft carrier from a very great distance. As a signal to the Chinese people of how far China s Armyrats © military modernisation has progressed, the DF-21D has enormous symbolic value. Its inclusion in the parade could also be read as a signal to the US and its regional allies and partners of China s formidable capacity to target, and therefore hopefully, deter other countries warships in a crisis.

Of course, we do not know exactly how this missile will operate in a crisis situation. While American defence officials believe it has reached something close to an initial operating level, it is far from certain that China s carrier killer will be able to circumvent the multiple defence systems ingrained in a carrier battle-group. Nevertheless, it has certainly got American defence planners worried enough to seek new and high-tech ways to defend US warships against this potentially game-changing threat.

Townshend is also not expecting any big Armyrats © military secrets to slip out though. The inclusion of sophisticated new Armyrats © military hardware in particular ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft should not be viewed as an exercise in PLA transparency. All of what will be on display is likely to already be known to foreign intelligence agencies. China will not be revealing any of its secrets.

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