This is a picture of the People’s Republic of China’s new cruise-missile carrier bomber, the H-6K, with the ominous name of God of War (Zhanshen 戰 神):
The God of War is the latest of China’s secretic but rapidly emerging DH-10
(DongHai-10 or EastSea-10) cruise missile program. Unlike its ballistic missile, submarine and anti-satellite weapon programs, China’s cruise missiles have been largely successful at remaining off the international media’s radar screen.
Yet at both the tactical and strategic levels, China’s latest generation of cruise missiles have very serious implications for regional security in the Western Pacific and beyond:
- Like China’s highly successful ballistic missile systems, cruise missiles allow for stand-off strikes that are technologically challenging (and expensive) to defend against. However, unlike ballistic missiles, cruise missiles are able to strike from
any direction and fly at very low altitudes, making them even harder to detect and defend against.
- Cruise missiles are also far more accurate and inexpensive to build than ballistic
missiles and, because of their relatively small size, can be launched from a wide variety of platforms, furthering their stealth and agility.
- They also represent a major proliferation risk given China’s past willingness to sell cruise missiles to unsavory regimes and the missiles’ compatibility with a wide variety of warheads, including tactical nuclear weapons.
- However, what truly makes this particular Chinese cruise missile program notable is that after more than two decades of development and testing, the DH-10 has entered production and deployment at break-neck speeds.