The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force put the spotlight on several missiles targeting “Taiwan independence-leaning forces” to mark the fifth anniversary of its founding, a warning to the self-ruled island, military experts said.
In a five-episode documentary broadcast by state broadcaster China Central Television on New Year’s Eve, the PLA Rocket Force showcased more than 10 types of active short and intermediate-range missiles specifically designed for a possible war against Taiwan.
One of the highlights was the demonstration of the CJ-10, or Long Sword 10, a potent precision-strike weapon based on the DF-10 cruise missile, penetrating the windows of an office building, which military experts described as “decapitation experiments” intended to caution Taipei.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that must eventually be reunited with the mainland – by force if necessary – and this has been a key goal for the PLA in their military exercises for decades.
“The footage was recorded in 2007 … the demonstration of the CJ-10 missile was aimed at targeting Taiwan’s key independent advocate Chen Shui-bian,” a military source, who requested anonymity, told the South China Morning Post, referring to a former Taiwanese president.
“The demonstration indicated that CJ-10 precision could penetrate a specific window.”
As a land-attack cruise missile, the CJ-10 reaches subsonic speed and travels up to 2,000km (1,240 miles) with a payload of 500kg (1,100 pounds).
Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Tong said the video footage, which showed the precision strike at different angles, was a warning for Taiwan.
Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping, a former instructor for the Rocket Force’s predecessor, the Second Artillery Corps, said that by today’s standards, the CJ-10 was not suitable for decapitation, but “specific constructions”.
“Decapitation aims at one person or a specific group, but can’t harm innocents … the CJ-10 could be used to destroy a military command centre or some specific buildings,” Song said.
Besides the CJ-10, the documentary also showed detailed operations and drills for short-range missiles involving the DF-11, DF-15, DF-16 and DF-17 under all-weather conditions and at night. All the missiles have been deployed to the Eastern and Southern theatre commands, across the Taiwan Strait from Taiwan.
In the past year both theatre commands have stepped up military drills targeting Taiwan, with satellite images showing missile bases in Guangdong and Fujian provinces being expanded.
For the first time, the footage disclosed the original launching vehicle of the DF-17, the country’s most advanced hypersonic glide missile that made its debut in October 2019 at a huge military parade marking the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China.
Earlier reporting by the South China Morning Post said the DF-17 had been deployed to missile bases near the Taiwan Strait since last year. With a maximum range of 2,500km, the missile would gradually replace the older DF-11 and DF-15 missiles.
However, the TV documentary did not show intercontinental ballistic missiles, such as the DF-5A, DF-31AG and DF-41, which are able to hit North America, indicating that Beijing does not want to provoke Washington.
On December 31, 2015, the PLA’s strategic missile force, the Second Artillery Corps, announced it was reorganised and renamed Rocket Force.