Pentagon Estimates China Has Doubled Number of Missiles That Can Hit U.S.

A new U.S. military report has assessed that its Chinese counterpart has doubled the number of far-reaching missiles capable of hitting the United States over the course of the past year.

The annual report, known as “Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” was published Wednesday by the Pentagon. The document included a broad array of observations of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its rapid development in key areas as tensions persist between the world’s top two powers.

Among the more striking metrics included in the report was an estimated 300 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and 300 ICBM launchers currently possessed by the PLA Rocket Force. The previous report, released around this same time last year, counted 150 ICBMs and 100 launchers.

Missiles exceeding a range of 5,500 kilometers, or roughly 3,418 miles, in range are classified as ICBMs and are almost always nuclear-capable.

China, DongFeng-41, ICBM, missile, Beijing
A man poses in front of a Dongfeng-41 intercontinental ballistic missile and its mobile launcher on display at the Beijing Exhibition Center. A new U.S. military report has assessed that its Chinese counterpart has doubled the number of far-reaching missiles capable of hitting the United States over the course of the past year.
Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Other notable observations in the report included the Pentagon’s assessment that the PLA Rocket Force “launched approximately 135 ballistic missiles for testing and training” in 2021, which “was more than the rest of the world combined, excluding ballistic missile employment in conflict zones.”

Last year’s report assessed that, in line with Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s PLA modernization plan, China’s armed forces were on track to field 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030. The latest report looked further to 2035, when it found that, “if China continues its nuclear expansion, it will likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads.”

The Pentagon assessed that China’s current “operational nuclear warheads stockpile has likely surpassed 400.”

The U.S. maintains a total of 5,500 nuclear warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and 5,428, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). Both organizations estimate that about 1,744 of these warheads are currently deployed.

This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.

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