Beijing [China], March 19 (ANI): China is building more underground silos to launch its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), as its military rivalry with the US intensifies, according to reports.
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), the silos are reportedly being built in the north of the country and are designed to accommodate the DF-41 and DF-31AG missiles that have a range of 10,000 km to 14,000 km - meaning they could reach US territory.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force has begun constructing at least 16 silos in a missile training area west of Wuhai in Inner Mongolia, said a Washington-based think tank the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in a February report citing satellite images. It said that China was expanding its nuclear deterrence strategy amid intense military rivalry with the US.
The new underground silos are located in the centre of the Jilantai training base, within a total area of 200 square km and are spaced between 2.2 km and 4.4 km apart so that no two of them can be destroyed in a single nuclear attack, according to the report.
China's official policy is that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in the event of a conflict, but it also stresses the need for nuclear deterrence and response to a possible nuclear attack, reported SCMP.
However, the FAS report said that even if China doubled or tripled the number of ballistic missile silos, it would still lag far behind the US and Russia in terms of nuclear strike capability.
The US has 450 silos, 400 of them loaded with missiles, while Russia has about 130 active silos, compared to 18 to 20 active silos in China, according to the FAS.
Macau-based military analyst Antony Wong Tong said the new silos suggested China was stepping up the "quantity and quality" of its ground-based missile deployment.
According to Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping, the ultimate goal of developing land-based ICBM silos was to build nuclear deterrence. (ANI)