China is destabilizing the delicate military balance with the United States. It normally focused on just defensive efforts as it concentrated on a “peaceful rise.” But that was 15 years ago. Now Chinese diplomats are focusing on the “wolf warrior” phase of military modernization. The wolf warrior concept is borrowed from a hugely popular action movie in China that exemplifies a rising and powerful China. The wolf warrior mentality is epitomized by the following weapons systems – the J-20 warplane, the Type 003 aircraft carrier, a hypersonic boost-glide missile, carrier killing missiles, and an ICBM that can reach the U.S., or what can be considered China’s 5 most powerful weapons of war.
China’s 5 Most Powerful Weapons of War – J-20 Stealth Fighter Plane
The J-20 is China’s answer to the F-22 and F-35. It is not completely stealthy, but it has some radar-absorbent characteristics. It is China’s fifth-generation fighter and the result of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force best attempt at military modernization.
Dubbed the Mighty Dragon, the airplane is comparable to the F-35 because China has been charged with cyber espionage when it reportedly stole information about the Joint Strike Fighter.
The J-20 keeps its weapons inside the airplane, has improved radar, advanced sensors, and better avionics compared to other PLAAF fighter planes. It can be armed with air-to-air and anti-radar missiles, plus laser-guided bombs.
China’s 5 Most Powerful Weapons of War- Type 003 Carrier
China’s new Type 003 aircraft carrier has a true flat-top design and can project power further than its previous two other carriers based on Russian designs. Both the current Chinese carriers have “ski jump” catapult systems. This keeps the Shandong and Liaoning from launching a full-assortment of fighters and bombers. But the Type 003 will be the size of the American Ford-class carrier.
The Type 003 will have a better launch and recovery capability called the Catapult Assisted Takeoff But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) system. Only the U.S. and France have such a system. The
Type 003 has improved defense systems using electronic warfare that can disrupt and spoof incoming missiles. The Type 003 is expected to be in service in 2025.
China’s 5 Most Powerful Weapons of War – DF-17 Hypersonic Boost Glide Missile
The DF-17 hypersonic boost-glide missile will probably be the world’s first functioning hypersonic weapons system. The DF-17 can potentially fly low enough to evade radar systems and may be able to overcome U.S. anti-missile systems such as the Patriot and THAAD.
The DF-17 could endanger U.S. military assets in East Asia. It can reach speeds of up to MACH 5-10 during gliding and have a range between 1,100 and 1,600 miles. The DF-17 is highly maneuverable and accurate.
It may someday be nuclear-capable.
China’s 5 Most Powerful Weapons of War – The DF-41 ICBM
The DF-41 ICBM is scary. It is the best ICBM in China’s arsenal. The DF-41 can carry 10 Multiple Independently-targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs).
These 10 nuclear warheads on the DF-41 could reach the United States.
The DF-41 is road-mobile and can be silo-launched. China just built at least 100 new missile silos near the city of Yumen in a north-central province and the DF-21 will likely be deployed there.
China’s 5 Most Powerful Weapons of War – Carrier-Killing Missiles
The DF-21D and DF-26B anti-ship ballistic missiles. These are known as the “carrier killer” missiles. China is placing many of these missiles around the coast along the South China Sea to serve as anti-access area denial assets.
There are reportedly 200 DF-21 mobile launchers and 200 missiles each with 1,300-pound warheads and 910 nautical mile range which could easily endanger U.S. Naval ships in the Taiwan Strait and beyond. In 2020, both anti-ship missiles were tested against moving targets.
The DF-41 ICBM is the most powerful weapon of the bunch with the DF-17 hypersonic boost glide missile in second place. American nuclear strategists will have to take these missiles into account as they ponder Chinese first or second-strike capabilities and intentions to use.
Nuclear competition between the two countries will heat up. However, the United States still has the warhead advantage 1,550 to China’s 200 or more. Beijing’s goals are to have its nuclear forces survive a first strike with hardened silos and mobile wheeled-launchers.
1945’s new Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.