119 rockets in the desert. China is building a new missile positioning area

119 rockets in the desert. China is building a new missile positioning area
119 rockets in the desert. China is building a new missile positioning area

China continues to develop its strategic nuclear forces and is taking impressive measures. Recently it became known that a new positioning area with a large number of silo launchers is under construction in Gansu province. As a result of this work, the Chinese missile forces will be able to deploy at least 120 new ballistic missiles.

View from space

The largest construction in recent history of the PLA's missile forces was recently reported by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at California's The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). Its specialists studied satellite images of the Chinese territory from Planet Labs, taken at the end of June, and found previously absent objects on them.

The activity of the Chinese military is observed in two lowland desert regions of the province. Gansu. The first one is located several tens of kilometers west of Yumen (coordinates 40 ° 15'34.1 "N 96 ° 30'00.2" E). An equally interesting object is located between the city and the positioning area - one of the largest Chinese wind farms. The second part of construction is being carried out on the site to the south (40 ° 02'11.3 "N 96 ° 28'21.4" E); this object has a different configuration.

The January satellite imagery reportedly did not show any desert activity. However, already in March a sufficiently developed road network appeared there. Finally, photographs from the end of June show the presence of construction sites on which work is underway. American analysts have counted 119 such objects. The pitches are distributed on a grid at a distance of approx. 3-3.5 km apart. At the same time, the selected area is not completely covered by objects: there are gaps in the grid due to the relief.


On some of the sites, construction is carried out without observing secrecy. Round pits of unknown depth are already observed on them. At other facilities, pre-fabricated shelters in the form of a semi-rigid dome measuring 50x70 m have been installed. Apparently, this is necessary to protect an important construction site from external influences and from prying eyes.

Similar processes with the emergence of pits and the deployment of shelters have been repeatedly observed in recent years. In all cases, after removing the camouflage, the head of the silo launcher remained on the site. From this it is concluded that in prov. Gansu, the construction of a missile position area is underway.

Earlier in March of this year, it was reported that another positioning area was being created in the area of ​​Wuhai (Inner Mongolia). Satellite images then counted 16 construction sites, each of which may contain a mine. Thus, over the next few years, the PLA missile forces will be able to put on alert up to 130-140 stationary complexes with missiles of different classes and types - in addition to those already deployed.


Missile potential

To date, the PLA has built quite numerous and well-developed missile forces, which are a full-fledged component of the strategic nuclear forces. The construction of this type of troops is carried out using available technologies and on the basis of their own ideas. At the same time, development is being carried out with some regard for the Soviet experience, which can be observed in some of the processes.

According to known data, at present, the missile forces have at least 10 brigades armed with intercontinental-range complexes. 18 brigades are armed with medium-range missiles, 3 - with short-range systems. At least two missile brigades are equipped with cruise missile systems.

The PLA has ballistic missiles of all major classes, including intercontinental ones. The presence of complexes with differing characteristics makes it possible to effectively carry out nuclear deterrence on a regional and strategic scale.

According to The Military Balance 2021, more than 100 ICBMs of several types, both obsolete and newest, are on duty. Complexes in stationary and mobile versions are used, and it is the mobile ones that have been the focus of attention lately. The MRBM class includes almost 300 missiles on duty; more than 100 of them have non-nuclear combat equipment. Cruise missiles and short-range complexes are not equipped with nuclear warheads.

119 rockets in the desert. China is building a new missile positioning area

Thus, the land component of China's strategic nuclear forces includes approx. 300 ICBMs and MRBMs on alert. The number of deployed warheads is unknown. According to various sources, Chinese missiles have monoblock and multiple warheads, but there is no more accurate information. It is obvious that a warehouse stock of missiles and warheads for them has also been created.

Strategic perspective

Several years ago, the PLA adopted the newest Dongfeng-41 ICBM with a firing range of at least 12-14 thousand km. Such products can be used as part of mobile soil and stationary mine complexes. The mobile version of the DF-41 has already been shown at parades several times, and the silos, for obvious reasons, remain secret.

Foreign publications suggest that the construction of new positioning areas near Wuhai and Yumen is associated precisely with the transition to modern Dongfeng-41 missiles. Accordingly, the command plans to continue operating the PGRK with such weapons and simultaneously place these products in mines. The use of a single missile in mines and on mobile complexes has certain advantages, and the PLA plans to get them.

In the current processes of building the missile forces, numbers and their ratio are of great interest. It is known that on duty builds about 300 nuclear missiles, and about a third of this number belongs to the intercontinental class. At the same time, the construction of two positional areas (in Gansu and in Inner Mongolia), at least 135 missiles, is underway.


An elementary calculation shows that only due to the new stationary objects that have gained prominence in recent years, the PLA will be able to increase the number of deployed ICBMs and MRBMs by 40%. If the new silos are used for intercontinental missiles, their total number could be more than doubled. It should not be forgotten that the DF-41 and other missiles can also be operated in a mobile version.

The area chosen for the deployment of missiles is of great importance. Prov. Gansu is remote from the western, southern and eastern borders of China. Thanks to this, the probability of hitting new targets with enemy tactical weapons is reduced to almost zero. At the same time, the long range of modern ICBMs will make it possible to strike at the main targets even from such an area.

Foreign experts suggest that not all new mines can be equipped with real missiles. There is a possibility that some of the launchers will be left empty. They will create the appearance of a massive deployment of ICBMs, as well as serve as false targets that increase the safety of installations on real duty.

Such a military trick would reduce the maximum possible number of combat-ready missiles. However, the current state of the Chinese missile forces is such that several dozen new ICBMs and MRBMs are capable of dramatically increasing their combat effectiveness and deterrent potential.


From the available data, it follows that construction near Yumen started only a few months ago, and since then it has been possible to launch the construction of 119 new mines. How the construction is progressing, what is hidden under the shelters and when it will be possible to complete the work is unknown. The known pace of construction suggests that the new positioning area in the prov. Gansu will be prepared in the coming years. The combat duty of the new mine complexes may begin as early as the middle of the decade.

Development continues

Thus, the current program for the construction of new facilities opens up the widest opportunities for the PLA's missile forces. They will be able to increase the number of modern missile systems on alert and provide some increase in their survivability and stability. Using systems of the latest models, China will be able to create a full-fledged strategic threat to the main potential adversaries - and provide the required level of nuclear deterrence.

However, the quantitative and qualitative consequences of the current construction will not appear immediately. China has to complete the construction of a large number of new facilities that are not distinguished by simplicity. Also, the industry will have to make the required number of missiles for duty and for storage. With the successful solution of such tasks, China will be able to move closer to the world leaders in the field of strategic nuclear weapons. However, the timing and price of this is still unknown.

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