May 4, 2018

Chinese Missiles of May, Spratly Islands & Paracels, South China Sea

Today's headlines are reportedly new discoveries of Chinese missiles being installed on some Spratly Islands/Reefs, in the southern portion of the South China Sea (SCS). This particularly includes Fiery Cross, Subi and Christmas Reefs. Reports of Chinese missiles and jetfighters in the Paracel Islands in the northern part of the SCS (especially Woody Island) go back to 2015-16. (The 2018 map above  is courtesy provided by KQN).

China's YJ-12 anti-ship missiles being installed on its Spratly SCS islands/reefs may have a range of 295 nmi. The YJ-12 footprints (see map) extend from the Philippine territorial waters and most of its Palawan Island in the East to about 50 nmi off the Vietnam coast in the East. 

Even more Chinese range extending is the possibility that anti-ship and AA missile armed Chinese
J-11 (Flanker B++) fighters, observed on Woody Island since 2015, could be rotationally based on airstrips on Fiery Cross, Subi and Christmas. The J-11 has a very wide combat radius of 810 nmi. 

Adding to China's Spratly island power is the reportedly new introduction of "the HQ-9B long-range, surface-to-air missiles [above] [that] could target aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles."

The presence of these Chinese missiles will likely make the US and Australia hesitant in staging ship and especially aircraft FONOPs across the South China Sea (SCS). The missiles will add to the anxiety of Southeast Asian nations and Taiwan that compete against each other and China in the Spratly and Paracel islands' SCS disputes.



Anonymous said...

Looking at the map, we can see why China plans to build up Scarborough Shoal in the northern Spratly's, which is almost at the same latitude as Manila. Deploying YJ-12 and HQ-9 9as well Radars and EW there will give significant overlapping and supporting coverage with Woody and Hainan islands.

From the public satellite photos of Subi, Fiery Cross and Mischief reefs, China has built fortified hangars sufficient to house 12-24 J-11 fighters on each of those strong points. That is a total equivalent to (1) USN CVN for just the Spratly's. (2) CVNs if we factor in the fighter garrisons on nearby Woody and Hainan, even without the Liaoning.

Josh said...

An argument could be made for increasing the bomber detachment on Guam to a full squadron. Currently there are a half dozen B-1 or B-52s at any given moment; given the priority these targets will have in any Sino-US war, it seems upping this number to a dozen is warranted.


Peter Coates said...

Welcome back Josh

The US Pacific bomber equation gets more complex.

Making Guam's bomber capability more complex is rotational basing of 2 or 3 B-2 bombers [1] - the most potent bombers against China, North Korea, Russia and Iran.

F-22's in bomber mode might also rotate through Hawaii? Alaska, Guam, Kadena? or Yokosuka. F-35A's will follow.


It seems supercruise and easy to full jet power, jet engines are the hardest quality of stealth (rather than aircraft structure, RAM or sensors) for Russia and China to catch up on.



Peter Coates said...

Thanks KQN [at 4/5/18 4:04 PM]

Longer, 1,500 km range, Chinese CJ-10 Land Attack cruise missile could also be deployed on the South China Sea reefs. They can carry 500 kg warheads and are subsonic with turbofans (much like Tomahawks). They can be mounted on TEL trucks and other platforms. see

J-11, YJ-12 and HQ-9, Radars and EW on Subi, Fiery Cross and Mischief reefs Together could even equal a whole CVN Carrier GROUP of firepower and sensors.