China ‘rapidly developing nuclear-capable missile silos’, satellite images appear to show

Rapid construction on three presumed missile silo fields in China – which could eventually be capable of firing of long-range nuclear missiles – seems to indicate that Beijing is putting considerable effort and resources into the development of its nuclear capabilities, according to analysis of new commercial satellite images.

Experts from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), a non-partisan national security research and advocacy organization, found that China has made significant progress on suspected silo fields in the western part of the country.

“For China, this is an unprecedented nuclear build-up,” wrote Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen, the authors of FAS report published today (AEDT).
U.S. security experts say new satellite images show China has made significant progress with suspected missile silo fields. (Included)

The authors noted that “the missile silo fields are still many years away from becoming fully operational, and it remains to be seen how China will arm and operate them.”

Recent reports on Chinese activities, however, have added concerns from U.S. officials about China’s rapid military progress.

The presumed development of a first missile silo field was reported in late June. Following another FAS report released in July on China’s alleged development of another silo field, the US Strategic Command tweeted: “This is the second time in two months the public has discovered what we have been saying all along about the growing threat facing the world. and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it “.

Admiral Charles A. Richard, chief of the United States Strategic Command, said in August, “we are witnessing a strategic outbreak from China.”

“The explosive growth and modernization of its nuclear and conventional forces can only be what I describe as breathtaking. And honestly, that word breathtaking may not be enough,” he said.

Various stages of construction underway by Chinese engineers on silos at the possible Ordos missile silo field in August 2021. (Included)

The commercial satellite images from Maxar Technologies and Planet Labs, which FAS has analyzed, provide some of the most detailed images yet of three suspected missile silo fields, where the Chinese appear to be building about 300 new missile silos.

“What is remarkable, of course, is the scale and speed of this, that this is so out of sync with what the Chinese have done on missile silos ever before,” Kristensen told CNN.

CNN has contacted the Chinese government for comment on the new report.

Kristensen said that the construction of the silo fields “probably has to do with the fact that the Chinese leadership has just decided that China must be a large military and the nuclear forces must match it”.

He also noted that it “reduces the vulnerability that anyone can turn them into a surprise attack”.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the right, said China’s test of a suspected hypersonic weapon was “very worrying” for the United States. (AP)

China’s ongoing development of the silos comes as the country significantly strengthens its military capabilities.

That is what the United States has said China tested a hypersonic weapon over the northern summer, which Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley called “very worrying.”

He also said “Chinese military capabilities are much greater than that” single test.

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However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the August test was “a spacecraft, not a missile”.

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