Understanding the Dragon Shield: Likelihood and Implications of Chinese Strategic Ballistic Missile Defense


While China has received growing attention for modernizing and expanding its strategic offensive nuclear forces over the last ten years, little attention has been paid to Chinese activities in testing and developing ballistic missile defenses (BMD). Motivated to understand the strategic implications of this testing and to learn Chinese views, Adjunct Senior Fellow and Professor, Bruce MacDonald and FAS President, Dr. Charles Ferguson, over the past twelve months, have studied these issues and have had extensive discussions with more than 50 security experts in China and the United States. Ever since the end of the Cold War, U.S. security policy has largely assumed that only the United States would possess credible strategic ballistic missile defense capabilities with non-nuclear interceptors. This tacit assumption has been valid for the last quarter century but may not remain valid for long. Since 2010, China has been openly testing missile interceptors purportedly for BMD purposes, but also useful for anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.

A full PDF version of the report can be found here.

5 thoughts on “Understanding the Dragon Shield: Likelihood and Implications of Chinese Strategic Ballistic Missile Defense

  1. I joined as a FAS Member on 16 September 2015. I did not received my membership card, document and kit. My address : Present address – Kalyan Kumar Mahata, At. – Balaramdihi, P.O. – Jhargram, Dist. – West Midnapore, PIN 721507, West Bengal, India. Mobile No. +91 9647181612.

  2. If this is true, then what are the implications of potential chinese aggression in the future if US defenses are substandard compared to that of the chinese?

  3. China is investing in nw to defend itself from US nuclear blackmail.This to make the wh will note that any US first strike even with conventional forces on China’ s nf will not succeeed in completely eliminating 100% of them
    The residual force comprising some 50 or less nw will be able to inflict destruction to deter any US attack.
    China will keep on getting more and more nw .It must have at least athousand to three thousand to have an assured destruction capability.Then and only then will
    the US not try to impose its will.

  4. China’s defence shield aint going to make a difference shd the US launch a nuclear attack.The US is poised to strike with thousands of nw in under 15/30/60 min. Unless China has 10000 ten thousand shields ,its like trying to plug a gap with your finger.
    Imho,China must have at least a thousand to five thousand nm. Shd the US shield succeed in destroying 95% of them the remaining 250nm will be able
    to render US society dysfunctional. That is the threat the US is trying to eliminate.
    US policy makers better note its an unwinnable game.
    The PLA will make sure their defence capability aint going to be short changed by any US technogical advances.The PLA will keep on getting more and better long range weapons to deter and if that fails to impose
    crippling costs to any USattack.

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