China's five most devastating weapons are a considerable threat to the United States, Japan and India if armed conflict should ever arise between the countries, reports the Washington-based National Interest.
The PLA Air Force is no longer a peasant air force with ancient fighters incapable of projecting power beyond its borders. Facing territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippine over the East and South China Seas, China today needs an air force strong enough to protect its interest beyond its traditional area of interest in East Asia. To challenge the power and influence of the United States, it indeed needs a global air force with global weaponry.
The first weapon system is the WU-14 Hypersonic Glide Vehicle. With a speed of Mach 5 and 10, it can travel farther faster, delivering its payload within minutes of launch. Hypersonic weapons are difficult to be intercepted with current air defense systems. The test flight of the WU-14 on Aug. 7 indicated that the PLA intends to use it to deliver nuclear warheads.
The next weapon is the KJ-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft. Like the American Sentry, Mizokami said that KJ-2000 is a large, wide-bodied aircraft with a rotating disc-shaped radar mounted on top. It is capable of detecting aircraft more than 300 miles away. This aircraft allows China's surveillance network to extend beyond the range of ground-based radars into the South or East China Seas.
The third weapon system is the H-6 strategic bomber designed by Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation. This bomber is designed based on the blueprint of Soviet Tu-16 bomber to drop nuclear warheads. However, it can also be used as conventional bomber, missile carrier, and even aerial refueling tanker today. The bomber's two most useful attributes are its long range and large payload according to the report.
The Il-78 tanker is another weapon system for the PLA to strengthen its force projection capability. The South China Sea, 670 miles away from the closest Chinese air base at Hainan island, is just under twice the combat radius of China's J-10 fighters. The Il-78 is the only system that is able to extend the range of Chinese fighters other than the Liaoning, the first aircraft carrier of China.
China's last most powerful weapon in the sky is the DH-10 cruise missile family. The latest version of the DH-10, the DH-10A or the CJ-10, is estimated to be accurate to within less than ten meters owing to satellite guidance. Its nuclear payload is around 1,000 pounds.
In addition to those five weapons, the J-20 stealth fighter was mentioned as a runner-up. It is now known whether it will be used as fighter or bomber.