Advanced China n-missiles on India border, says Pentagon

After unveiling the refurbished Varyag warship as an experimental and training model, Beijing is likely to add several additional aircraft carriers to its naval fleet over the next few years, even as it has deployed more advanced CSS-5 Medium Range Ballistic Missiles against India, the latest Pentagon report on the modernisation of the Chinese military says.

Maintaining that a high degree of mistrust continues between India and China mainly due to territorial disputes, the Pentagon has said that Beijing is fast improving infrastructure near the border that can also be used for military purposes, and has placed new missiles as a deterrent.

"A high degree of mistrust continues to strain the bilateral relationship. To strengthen its deterrent posture relative to India, the PLA has replaced liquid-fueled, nuclear-capable CSS-2 IRBMs with more advanced and survivable solid-fueled CSS-5 MRBM systems," says the Pentagon report, which has been presented before the US Congress.

The report says although the construction of roads along the Sino Indian border is aimed at economic development of western China, "improved roads could also support PLA border defence operations".

"New Delhi remains concerned by China's close military relationship with Pakistan and Beijing's growing footprint in the Indian Ocean, Central Asia, and Africa," says the report, which names Pakistan as the main importer of Chinese equipment. Recent sales include the F 7 and JF 17 fighters, anti ship missiles, air to air missiles, helicopters, early warning systems and new frigates.

The report also notes China's rapidly growing maritime prowess and gives details of its aircraft carrier programme. While saying that the Varyag will be operationally available by the end of next year, the report notes that the country has not yet managed to develop a carrier borne fighter aircraft. "It will take several years for an operationally viable air group of fixed and rotary wing aircraft to achieve even a minimal level of combat capability," the report says.

"In addition to the Kuznetsov-class carrier (Varyag), the PLA Navy will likely build several additional carriers in Chinese shipyards," it notes, adding that if production begins by 2011, the PLA Navy could have its first indigenous carrier achieving "operational capability" as early as 2015.

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