Disclaimer: we do not argue for war or the increased buildup of munitions by any side in any conflict. We only aim to provide technical specifications about the weapons themselves. This article does not aim to promote any specific arms manufacturers.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Chinese military faced several major issues. The primary issue during this time was where they were going to get their military hardware and technology from.
Up until this time, the Soviet Union was the primary source for Chinese weapons and hardware. Although there were some locally made Chinese weapons, most of its AK-47s as well as their fighter aircraft were made and produced in the Soviet Union.
The Iron Curtain fell and China realized that it was far behind many industrialized nations in many respects. As the country with the largest population on the planet, the Chinese needed to come up with ways in which to modernize both their economy as well as their military, and fast.
So they started their own military programs to create helicopters, tanks, missiles, ships, and weapons. They did this both by using their own ingenuity as well as hacking into the mainframes of militaries around the world in order to steal information and build their own version of whatever they needed.
Slowly but surely, China began to raise its military profile. Now along with an enormous army full of soldiers (the number of Chinese soldiers exceeds the number of inhabitants of many countries), the Chinese military has also modernized to a huge degree.
Now, as a rising regional power with potential global ambitions, the Chinese are threatening United States supremacy in south east Asia. They are flexing their new found muscle in trying to project their power over islands in Japan, the Philippines, and of course their main rival Taiwan.
This power projection is being made possible by a renewal of the Chinese navy as well as vast locally made improvements to the Chinese Air Force, coupled with Chinese nuclear second strike capability.
So what do these Chinese future weapons look like?
Type 094 submarine
This submarine was first spotted in 2006 in satellite images of the Xiaopingdao Submarine Base, and almost nothing is known about it. What is known however was leaked from classified documents. This type exceeds the capabilities of the Type 092 submarine, and gives China the possibility for a sea based nuclear strike. The submarines can hold up to four intercontinental cruise missiles which can all be tipped with nuclear warheads (3 or 4 of them, as reported). This is part of China’s nuclear triad, which consists of land based, air based, and now sea based nuclear weapons. The existence of this submarine now means that China has second strike capabilities.
Type 054A Frigate
The Type 054A frigate entered service back in 2007, and is a development of the existing Type 054 frigate, but with better sensors and improved weapons. Currently, 26 of these are in service. This Chinese frigate class has a whole wealth of capabilities to defend the Chinese homeland from seaborne threats. It has anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles, and also has a Chinese adaptation of the Russian Buk surface to air missile. These frigates have already seen action in patrolling the Gulf of Aden for Somali pirates. They were also deployed to Libya to help evacuated Chinese nationals stranded there, as well as helped to ferry chemical weapons out of Syria.
This is essentially a Chinese copy of a Eurocopter Dauphin, and it is China’s primary combat helicopter. With a 430 mile range as well as a high rate of climb, these deadly helicopters are able to carry a whole wealth of different armaments. They can carry everything from anti-ship missiles, anti-personnel missiles, and even anti-tank missiles. The helicopter also has whisper rotors and an exhaust system which confuses heat seeking missiles.
The Chinese are now one of five countries who have the technology to be able to develop a deep sea submersible capable of going to the deepest depths of the ocean floor. This submersible is able to do tons of planet saving research, but can also be used to sabotage undersea cables. Or the Chinese could decide that they want to awaken that mysterious sleeping giant, Cthulhu. Hopefully they just use it for research purposes.
This is a Chinese copy of a Soviet Tupolev TU-16 bomber, and despite its long service history, it is still a plane which poses a threat to neighboring powers and is a key component in Chinese power projection. It is able to carry all sorts of missiles and bombs, including nuclear weapons. The plane has a range of 3,700 miles, putting many NATO bases in range, as well as many bases of ASEAN countries.
The Chengdu J-20 is China’s first homemade, fifth generation multi-role fighter jet. It is believed that plans for the F-35 were stolen by China in a massive cybersecurity hack and they were able to obtain the technology to build their own version. This can be seen in the physical similarities between the two aircraft. The plane aims to create Chinese air superiority in the region as it has a maximum speed of 1,300 miles per hour.
This Chinese fighter jet is the workhorse of the Chinese Air Force with over 250 in active duty service. Designed based off of the Soviet Sukhoi Su-27, this plane can go over twice the speed of sound and fly at over 65,000 feet. Flying so fast and so high, this Chinese fighter plane was designed with the sole purpose of being able to take over the skies in any military confrontation the Chinese military might have.
The DF-5 is the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM for short) with the longest range in the Chinese arsenal. This missile is able to carry out a nuclear strike anywhere on the planet (except for South America according to some estimates). Despite the fact that there are only an estimated 20 of these missiles in the Chinese arsenal, they still can take out 20 major enemy cities, with New York City, Los Angeles, London, and Moscow all well within range.
This self propelled artillery gun is able to fire a 155 mm projectile over 18 miles at enemy defenses and troops. It has an extremely advanced fire control system which uses laser range finders, and has the ability to use smart artillery rounds which are able to change flight path mid-air. The PLZ-45 has already proven itself in battle, having been used by the Saudi Arabians and the Kuwaitis in their war in Yemen.
This is a stealth bomber which is currently being designed, built and tested by the Chinese Air Force. An almost direct copy of the American B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, this Chinese bomber is being developed in order to be able to go on long range strategic bombing missions and fly well past Japan. This would extend China’s strategic reach, and make the entire game of global policy that much more difficult.
This cargo aircraft is used by the Chinese military in order to ferry goods and soldiers to anywhere in China at a moment’s notice. Perhaps most interestingly, many of the plane’s parts were created using a 3D printer, thereby drastically lowering the cost of production. The plane can carry up to 66 tons, and when filled with troops, has a range of 6,200 miles, enabling this plane to reach anywhere in Asia.
Type 052D destroyer
This Chinese destroyer can be seen patrolling waters all around China as well as infringing on the territorial waters of several other countries. The destroyer has the ability to launch a whole wealth of weapons, ranging from surface to air missiles, cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, and even anti-submarine missiles. China currently has about eight of these ships in active duty with a further three more undergoing sea trials.
This joint strike fighter plane was introduced into the Chinese Air Force in 2013 and relatively little is known about it. It is apparent that it is meant to be similar to the F-15 and that it can carry anti-ship missiles, air to ground missiles, and even air to air missiles. The fighter jet is able to fly at speeds of up to twice the speed of sound, and can go up to 58,000 feet in the air.
This is a surface to air missile which was almost completely copied from the types of missiles in use by the Soviet Union at the end of the cold war. However, this Chinese variant has an electronically scanned radar array, as well as the ability to launch in any and all terrains. The surface to air missile is even able to link up to other Chinese systems, creating an integrated air defense system.
The JL-2 is a submarine launched intercontinental cruise missile. It can be launched stealthily from anywhere in the world at any time with little to no advance warning. The missile has such a large range that, should it be shot off from somewhere close to the Chinese mainland, it would be able to hit any target in California, Europe, or Australia. These missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
This drone may look like a drone now, but it is actually shot out of a moving aircraft. It is more or less a combination drone-missile. It is designed to be fired from the underwing of a rotor or fixed wing aircraft, unfold in mid-air, and then fly around until the operator finds a suitable target. The UAV can be used for a variety of purposes, from radar and electronics jamming to being able to deliver a 10 pound warhead into a specific area.
This dual rotor unmanned aerial vehicle is equipped with two laser guided air to ground missiles. Designed to be a cheap weapon, this drone can be quickly deployed by Chinese ground forces and be used to take out enemies behind front lines, in hills and valleys, or even in urban environments, being able to shoot through windows if the need arises. They can also take out enemy tanks with ease.
This flying wing designed drone is officially only going to be used to test Chinese radar and air defenses along with radar systems inside China’s new indigenous fifth generation fighter planes. The drone can reach near supersonic speeds, and provides a difficult target to track. However, due to this low radar signature, there is a worry that this drone my in the end be used operationally, posing a challenge to enemy forces.
The Harbin Z-19 is China’s new and improved version of its Z-9, the country’s primary attack helicopter. The helicopter has whisper rotors, making the helicopter quite quiet, along with a new exhaust system which lowers its heat signature, and thereby defending it against threats from heat seeking missiles. The fire control system is also brand new and a lot more effective than the previous iteration.
Unkown missile launching system
This new missile launching system was only recently discovered and photographed. It looks like a Soviet or Russian style anti-aircraft missile system – perhaps a component of the S-300 anti-aircraft system, which is the system currently deployed in order to defend the skies above Syria. Should this be the case, it is likely that the Chinese would reverse – engineer this technology in order to make their own version. Or perhaps they already have, and this is the result.
Silent Hunter anti-missile laser
This system is designed to defend ships and perhaps tanks against incoming missile threats. The way that this system is believed to work is by shooting an extremely high powered, super heated laser at an incoming missile, thereby either cutting the missile up or even blowing up the projectile mid-air. However, due to the fact that we have not seen it in use yet, we do not know for certain what its capabilities are.
This is the newest, third generation battle tank in the Chinese arsenal. It is impressive due to it being constructed out of a special, anti-explosive composite material, as well as the fact that it is outfitted with a whole range of defenses, along with a high tech cannon and laser targeting system. It has so far been sold to the Thai military. However, perhaps most importantly, it has air conditioning.
Drone disabling gun
Drones are everywhere these days. You can buy them at any corner store it seems, and they are always flying around parks, the beach, events, and everything else. It is quite obnoxious to go out into nature only to hear the buzzing of a drone. Well, the Chinese now have a gun which shoots them down – not with projectiles, but by shooting radio waves at the drone in what amounts to a Ddos attack. No word yet on whether or not you can order it on Alibaba.
Thats right, China is currently building swarm drones. And they operate nearly independently. Using techniques learned by watching schools of fish and flocks of birds, the Chinese have figured out how to get over 100 drones to work together in order to fly in conjunction with minimal input from an operator. Set to be used primarily for reconnaissance or intelligence gathering, all an operator needs to say is “search here” and the swarm will do the rest.
This Chinese gun is one of the newest combat infantry weapons in the Chinese arsenal. Able to fire at 600 rounds per minute and with a range of 400 meters, this is truly a sharp looking weapon. However, what makes it unique is that the scope has a camera on it, enabling it to hook up to a lens on a soldier’s helmet. This lets the soldier peer around corners and fire any enemy coming at them.
Chinese robot savior
This robot looks like a cross between a human and a spider. Its main purpose is to be able to conduct search and rescue missions and find missing civilians and soldiers underneath tons of rubble. The Chinese have unfortunately been forced to use this on multiple occasions due to the various earthquakes which the country has seen in recent years, particularly in Yunnan.
Type 22 Missile Boat
These small quick, double hulled missile boats really worry military strategists. The boats, which are cheap and easy to produce, can swarm a US carrier strike force and cause a whole lot of damage. This is because these boats are equipped with eight anti-ship missiles. Should just 10 of the reported 83 of these missile boats fire a salvo of rockets, that translates into 80 highly accurate and fast anti-ship missiles. The missiles only need to be lucky once.
Ground Control Station
This is a ground control station which is going to be put into spotter planes which will be flying above the main battle. The crazy thing about this however, is that it is a hologram. Thats right, just like in every sci-fi movie that has ever been made, these holodecks will enable a commander to be able to see an entire battlefield in full 360 degree coverage, enabling them to make better decisions in real time.
SOAR Dragon drone
The SOAR Dragon is another one of China’s newest drones coming off the line. It is specifically developed to do high altitude reconnaissance and surveillance. The drone has a service ceiling of 59,000 feet, and is able to fly for 10 hours without refueling. The range of the plane is approximately 4,300 miles, putting much of east Asia within this airplane’s reach.
The YJ-12 is an anti-ship cruise missile which can fly at supersonic speeds towards its target. The missile flies over the top of the sea, keeping a low radar profile. The profile is so small that it would not be picked up by an enemy ship’s radar until about 30 seconds to impact. The missile is also really fast, flying up to three times the speed of sound. There is very little in an enemy’s naval arsenal that can take this on.
Type 87 grenade launcher
This is exactly what it sounds like – no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It is built like a normal, belt fed submachine gun, but with a twist; it shoots grenades. This incredible weapon of destruction is able to shoot out 120 grenades a minute (two grenades a second). While China has not seen these used in action as of this writing, the Syrian military has been using them in its civil war, as has the Sudanese and Pakistani militaries.
This is a huge, 50 caliber sniper rifle. It is actually deemed to be an anti-materiel gun as opposed to being an anti-personnel weapon. This means that the primary targets of this gun are vehicles, and not people. This is because at over a mile a way, a bullet fired from this rifle can split a man in half and keep going for another quarter mile. These are powerful guns, and can help turn the tide of a war.
This is a twin barreled incendiary rocket launcher modeled after several of the Russian varieties. It can be either shoulder fired or fired from a tripod. The reason for the double barrel is simple. Many tanks have some sort of anti-missile protection which can shoot a projectile out of the air. But this fires a lead projectile, causing the anti-missile protection to go off, and enabling the primary missile to hit the target.
This is a lightweight, short, bullpup machine gun produced for and used by the Chinese military, specifically its special forces and police. The gun is unique not only in its light weight, but also in its special, 50 round banana clip. While most clips only are able to hold approximately 30 bullets, this clip was designed to effectively carry 50. It takes a 5.8 mm round, and is effective at around 200 meters.
Another bullpup designed assault weapon, the QBZ-95 comes in three variants; a carbine, light support weapon, and standard rifle. Firing a .42 mm or .45 mm round, this gun can accurately hit a target at over 400 yards. There are currently over 97 variants and knock offs of this weapon being used in conflicts in every corner of the globe, with the first of these weapons leaving Chinese borders when they were seen in Hong Kong under British occupation.
This plane is interesting not only because it is an indigenous Chinese fifth generation stealth fighter, but also because this plane was not built by the military. It was instead built by a state-owned company. While it will probably not see use until 2018, there are already several prototypes built, and it is expected to be a competitor for the F-35. We do not know too much about the aircraft, but it will definitely threaten US air superiority over southeast Asia.
This is China’s very own airborne warning and control plane (AWACS). It is designed not only to find enemy forces and ships at a long range, but is used as a mobile, airborne command center as well, enabling troops to receive the most updated, real time information. Additionally, the Chinese KJ-2000 is able to track up to 100 targets simultaneously in the sea, on land, and in the air.
Qbu-88 sniper rifle
This bullpup designed sniper rifle shoots .42mm rounds accurately up to approximately one kilometer, making it one of the primary sniper rifles in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army as well as the Chinese Police Force for hostage situations. The bullpup design enables higher rates of accuracy as well as less kickback than a normal sniper rifle. Weighing in at only 9lbs, this sniper rifle is perfect for special forces operators.
Type 67 Machine gun
Despite it being so old, this weapon sure packs a powerful punch. Being able to be belt fed, this machine gun has the ability to fire over 650 rounds per minute. The Type 67, which has gone through at least two upgrades, was a menace to American troops during the Vietnam War. More recently, it was used during the Lebanese Civil War, as well as currently in the Syrian Civil War as well as the current Yemeni Civil War to great effect.
Type 56 assault rifle
A quick question – suppose you are a country who wants to buy a whole slew of weapons, but simply does not have the money to buy high quality AK-47s en masse? The answer – go to China and pick up tons of Type 56 rifles. This is a knock off of the AK-47 and is about half the price. 37 countries which use this as their primary weapon, and it’s a favorite for terrorist organizations from the Taliban to Hamas to ISIS.
Type 81 MRLS
The Chinese invented the multiple rocket launcher system way back in the 11th century, but they have vastly improved upon it since then. With the People’s Liberation Army’s Type 81, the military is able to shoot a massive barrage of 40 122mm missiles at any target, which is basically enough to flatten a medium sized town from about 30 miles away. This is far enough away that most artillery would not even be able to accurately hit it.
Known as the DF-21, this is a medium range cruise missile. These giants can be modified to be able to be shot at either ground based or even sea based targets. With a range of 1,700 kilometers, it could easily carry out a strike on several places in the south Pacific. According to the various international military sources, it would only take one of these missiles to sink an enemy aircraft carrier. The sources also stated that there is currently no defense against it.
The Type 99 tank is the newest armored workhorse of the People’s Liberation Army. It can travel of speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, giving it great maneuverability. Capable of carrying up to 42 tank rounds, this vehicle also has an automatic carousel loader for quick firing – which can be done either automatically or manually. The tank can also be outfitted to fire both high explosive anti-tank rounds as well as ATGMs for lighter armored vehicles.
The ZBD05 is the newest, most upgraded amphibious assault ship in the Chinese arsenal. Capable of carry eight soldiers, it is capable of hitting speeds of up to 30 miles per hour in the water, a speed which most personal speedboats have trouble getting up to. For defense, it is equipped with a 30mm cannon as well as the ability to launch short range HJ-8 anti-tank missiles.
Type 82 automatic pistol
Based on the Polish PM-63 RAK, this pistol has both semi-automatic as well as automatic mode. Firing an .18mm round, this weapon is small and compact enough to be used super-effectively at close range. The primary operators of this weapon are Chinese special forces. China captured several of these guns in the Sino-Vietnamese wars, reversed engineered them, and then started making their own.
This is technically an anti-aircraft gun which shoots enormous .50 caliber bullets into the air in order to bring down enemy aircraft which have intruded into Chinese airspace. This weapon is not used as much in this manner anymore, and is used by various groups in Syria, Yemen, and South Sudan as a way to simply mow down adversaries in those countries’ civil wars.
Pterodactyl UAV (CH-5)
This drone is a Chinese copy of the US Air Force Reaper drone. Unveiled at an airshow in the Chinese city of Zhuhai in 2016, the Chinese Air Force claims that the plane can fly for two days without refuelling, and has a range of over 15,000 miles – enough to fly from Beijing to Chicago and back. The drone also allegedly able to carry a range of smart bombs as well as jam all sorts of radar defense systems.
Norinco Battle Robot
This is a Chinese combat robot, able to take on any terrain both natural and urban. It is tracked, enabling the robot to climb over both rocks as well as stairs with ease. Its primary armament is a 12 gauge shotgun, but it can be outfitted with a machine gun, grenade launcher, or even robotic arms which can be used to dismantle a bomb. Used as a forward weapon, it is able to go into buildings and look for booby traps instead of people.
The true test of a country’s power projection is whether or not it can field its forces from far flung forward operating bases effectively and consistently. One of the best ways to do this is with an aircraft carrier. And now, China has one. The ship itself was bought from Ukraine under the guise of being turned into a theme park (China bought two carriers for this purpose). However, once it got to China, the carrier was retrofitted, and is now operational.