How China Got There First: Beijing’s Unique Path to ASBM Development and Deployment

Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 12

China’s deployment of the world’s first operational anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) has just been confirmed with unprecedented clarity by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The ASBM’s development path was unusual in many respects, but may increasingly represent the shape of things to come for China’s defense industry. In explaining these critical dynamics, this article builds on an occasional paper just published by the Jamestown Foundation that represents the most comprehensive open source analysis to date on China’s ASBM program [1].

To purchase the full report, China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Development: Drivers, Trajectories and Strategic Implications, click Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Development: Drivers, Trajectories, and Strategic Implications, Jamestown Occasional Paper (Washington, DC: Jamestown Foundation, 2013).

  • Office of the Secretary of Defense “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2013,” Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, May 2013, Available online <>. Hereafter, the report and its annual iterations will be cited in-text as (CMPR [Year], p. #).
  • Department of Defense Press Briefing on the 2013 DOD Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, Washington, DC, May 6, 2013, Available online <>.
  • Ibid.
  • Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, “U.S. Pacific Command Posture,” Senate Armed Services Committee, Washington, DC, April 9 2013, Available online <>.
  • Michael T. Flynn, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, “Annual Threat Assessment,” Statement Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, United States Senate, April 18, 2013, Available online <>.
  • For details, see Yu. V. Appal’kov et al., Otechestvennyye ballisticheskiye rakety morskogo bazirovaniya i ikh nositeli [Domestic Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles], St. Petersburgh: Galeya Print, 2006, Available online <>.
  • Norman Polmar, Cold War Submarines: The Design and Construction of U.S. and Soviet Submarines, Washington, DC: Brassey’s, Inc., 2004, pp. 179–81.
  • Boris Chertok, Rockets and People: Volume 4—The Moon Race, Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2011, p. 30.
  •  Author’s correspondence with Asif Siddiqi, April 2013.
  • Norman Polmar, Letter to the Editor, “World’s First ‘Carrier Killer’ Ballistic Missile,” Naval War College Review, Vol. 66, No. 2, Spring 2013, pp. 138–39,  Available online <>.
  • Author’s correspondence with Reuben Johnson, April 2013.
  • Author’s correspondence with Asif Siddiqi, April 2013.
  • General George S. Brown, U.S. Air Force, United States Military Posture for FY 1978, Washington, DC: Department of Defense, January 20, 1977, p. 16.
  • Tan Shoulin and Zhang Daqiao [Second Artillery Engineering College]; Diao Guoxiu, [PLA Unit 96311], “Dandaodaodan daji hangkongmujian mozhidao youxiaoqu de queding yu pingu [Determination and Evaluation of Effective Range for Terminal Guidance Ballistic Missile Attacking Aircraft Carrier], Zhihui kongzhi yu fangzhen [Command Control & Simulation] 28, No. 4 (August 2006), p. 7. Republished in China Military Power Report 2009, p. 21.