The Guardian

As much a show of military might as a commemoration of the 1945 victory, China is expected to roll out a huge array of hardware today. We spoke to military experts about what we might see, and what it might mean:

Ashley Townshend

Townshend says he will be looking out for China’s “carrier killer”. That is the nickname of the DF-21D missile system, which may get its first public outing.

“The DF-21D has great symbolic significance as the missile that, perhaps more than any other single weapons system, will potentially enable Beijing to prevent the United States navy from operating close to Chinese shores at acceptable levels of cost and risk,” says Townshend.

“China has created and tested the DF-21D as an anti-ship ballistic missile which many believe might be capable to successfully striking an American aircraft carrier from a very great distance. As a signal to the Chinese people of how far China’s military modernisation has progressed, the DF-21D has enormous symbolic value. Its inclusion in the parade could also be read as a signal to the US and its regional allies and partners of China’s formidable capacity to target, and therefore hopefully, deter other countries’ warships in a crisis.

“Of course, we do not know exactly how this missile will operate in a crisis situation. While American defence officials believe it has reached something close to an initial operating level, it is far from certain that China’s ‘carrier killer’ will be able to circumvent the multiple defence systems ingrained in a carrier battle-group. Nevertheless, it has certainly got American defence planners worried enough to seek new and high-tech ways to defend US warships against this potentially game-changing threat.”

Townshend is also not expecting any big military secrets to slip out though. “The inclusion of sophisticated new military hardware — in particular ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft — should not be viewed as an exercise in PLA transparency. All of what will be on display is likely to already be known to foreign intelligence agencies. China will not be revealing any of its secrets.”

This article was originally published at The Guardian