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Useful Notes / The Dragon's Teeth

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"China got The Bomb, but have no fears
They can't wipe us out for at least five years
Who's next?"
— "Who's Next?", That Was the Year That Was

The People's Republic of China detonated its first nuclear weapon in 1964. Since the PLA is secretive to say the least, the precise number of nukes that they have is unknown and estimates range from c.150 to c.400. Similarly, the range, throw-weight, number of warheads, and just about everything else published are basically guesswork. As always in these matters, remember that those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know.

China, like the former USSR, had Reporting Names and DOD designations assigned to its missiles (the DOD's alphanumeric designations following the same pattern as Soviet missiles, but with the prefix "C" added), although these have very largely fallen out of use. They are included for the sake of completeness.

These weapons appear in fiction a small amount- evil Chinese villains don't tend to use nuclear weapons much, but they do sometimes.

If you want to get the idea of how China developed its nuclear weapons, see this clip. A nuclear test conducted with The Cavalry. The old-school, horse-riding ones.

The PLAN nuclear submarine corps have an awesome theme song, though the lyrics have some Unfortunate Implications saying that they are a response and revenge force.

Some other useful notes:

  • DF stands for Dong Feng- "East Wind", while JL stands for Ju Lang- "Giant Wave".
  • The DF-4 and DF-5 missiles formed the basis of the Chang Zheng (CZ, "Long March") series of space rockets. The next gen, CZ-5 and on, are being designed separately of military application.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

China has nearly 50 of these in all.

  • DF-5/CSS-4: Liquid-fuelled ICBM, so not exactly brilliant. Long suspected of being a upgraded copy of the Titan II, a result of Chinese espionage. A non-nuclear DF-5 was first tested by China in May 1980, with the target site located northwest of Fiji in the South Pacific. China sent notices of the countries surrounding the area ahead of time while the PLA-N sailed to retrieve the test missile. That deployment holds the record as the farthest deployment the PLA-N has gone from its shores.
    • DF-5A: A MIRV-ed variant of the above, deployed in 2015 as a response to US developments in missile defense. 3-warheads plus countermeasures.
  • DF-31/CSS-9: Silo-based and rail-mobile.
    • In the Dale Brown novel Fatal Terrain, one is launched at Guam.
    • Forced to be retired and repurposed as the civilian commercial space launch vehicle CZ-11 due to espionage.
  • DF-31A: A more modern variant of the above with longer-range and a 3-warhead MIRV payload.
  • DF-41/CSS-X-10: The newest Chinese ICBM, thought to be undergoing deployment. Road and rail mobile, as well as silo-launchable. Possibly could carry as many as 10-12 MIRVs, although that is largely speculative. At least a single regiment (12-24 missiles) is thus far known to be active, as some of it's launchers were caught on video by Chinese civilians when they had to move through a town.

Other Ballistic Missiles

  • DF-2/CSS-1: The first Chinese MRBM, believed by some to be a copy of the Soviet R-5/SS-3. This missile was meant to target Japan and the U.S. military bases present there.
  • DF-3/CSS-2: China's first indigenous MRBM, entering service c. 1970. Soon to be retired. It was originally intended to hit U.S. military bases in the Philippines.
  • DF-4/CSS-3: Entered service around 1975, this IRBM is mainly silo-based. The DF-4 could reach both Guam and India.
  • DF-21/CSS-5: Range about 1,000 miles and available in conventional form too, in all likelihood. The biggest concern for US planners at present is a possible anti-ship capable version, which would threaten US carrier groups.
    • Highschool of the Dead: China manages four nuclear-armed DF-21s right before their base was destroyed, apparently in retaliation for the U.S. nuclear bombing of their country. Three of the four missiles are shot down by USN and JSMDF destroyers while the fourth was not intercepted due to one of the crewmen of the USS Curtis Wilbur infecting the entire ship with the zombie virus. The result was the fourth DF-21 exploding in the atmosphere above Japan, rendering the country without electricity.
  • JL-1/CSS-N-3: Submarine-launched ballistic missile carried by the Type 092 (see below). Even with the upgraded variant, it didn't have enough range to hit the US from the Western Pacific.
  • JL-2: Much more modern and capable missile than the JL-1 deployed on the Type 094 (again, see below). The exact payload is unknown, although observed guesses suggests it has either a single 1 megaton warheads or 3-4 MIR Vs of around 100 kilotons. Range of up to 8,000 kilometers, able to reach the US west coast from Chinese waters but only just. First tested in 1988.
  • JL-3: Thought to be under development, but the only people who likely know anything about it aren't sharing.

Submarines Capable of Launching Missiles

  • Type 092/"Xia" SSBN: First Chinese SSBN, with four JL-1 missiles fitted. Noisy and unreliable, it has apparently never sailed outside Chinese regional waters and may be non-operational. Of the two built, one may have been lost with all hands in an accident in 1985. The Xia-class SSBN first tested the JL-2 in 1988.
  • Type 094/"Jin" SSBN: The newest SSBN, entering service at the moment. The Chinese have 4 of these.
    • The Type 094 makes a significant appearance in Max Brook's World War Z. The crew launched their JL-2 on the Communist Party leadership bunker in an effort to end the Second Chinese Civil War and continue the fight against the zombies.
  • Type 096/"Tang" SSBN: The next generation of Chinese boomers, currently undergoing development. Aside from a doubling of missile capacity compared to the 094 and a pretty model, virtually nothing is known.

Bombers and Fighter-Bombers

  • Xian H-6K: A bomber based on the Soviet Tu-16. It is the PLAAF's main bomber.
  • Nanchang Q-5 [Qiang-5, "Fifth Attack Design"] "Fantan": A fighter-bomber designed for close air support. About a dozen have been modified for nuclear capability. As the A-5, the type has been exported to North Korea and Bangladesh, among others. A large-scale design modification of the Soviet MiG-19 "Farmer", their first supersonic fighter, it looks very different. The nuclear capable type and one bomb was once proposed to be exported to Greece through a british middleman in case of USSR invading Greece in the 1970s, but refused.
  • Xian H-20: China's new intercontinental bomber that is alleged to utilize stolen design from the USAF B-2 and B-21. It could in theory strike Hawaii, Alaska, and California.

Note: no connection between any Chinese weaponry and Upton Sinclair novel Dragon's Teeth.

Fictional Chinese Nukes

  • Part of the Chinese arsenal in Command & Conquer: Generals and its expansion. They have, besides silo-launched missiles, nuclear artillery, which is unique among the long-range units in the game because its nuclear shells cannot be intercepted with missile defense systems. In fact, in the expansion there is a Chinese Nuclear General - and as you would've guessed it - whose strategy revolves mostly around The Dragons Teeth. Improved nuclear tank engines and shells, nuclear carpet bombing, nuclear-tipped fighter missiles, cheaper nuclear silos, you name it. Played very straight here. They mostly seem to use tactical nukes though; a real strategic nuke — which is what one would expect a silo-based nuke to be — would destroy the entire map.
  • In The Bear and the Dragon, nuclear-armed DF-5 ICBMs are launched at the US by a panicked missile base commander, during a war between NATO and the PRC. AH-64 Apaches that were in the area destroyed all but one missile while they were launching, with the last being intercepted just before detonating above Washington, DC. This is the last straw for the more-moderate Chinese leadership, and leads to a coup that unseats the generals and "military adventurers" that have been controlling the government.
  • Dragon Strike (1997) has both land-based and Type 092 submarines threatening a nuclear war against the United States.