The United States has confirmed that it has discussed potential missile defence cooperation with India.
“This is a natural outgrowth of India’s status as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ and key element of our Indo-Pacific Strategy,” stated the Pentagon’s Missile Defence Review for 2019, unveiled by the Donald Trump administration.
It noted that a number of countries in South Asia were developing an advanced and diverse range of ballistic and cruise missile capabilities.
Talking about the Indo-Pacific, the review said the cornerstone of US security and diplomacy in the region was its strong bilateral alliances with Japan, South Korea, and Australia, and emerging security relationships with others such as India.
Referring to China, the review said Beijing was seeking to displace the US in the Indo-Pacific and reorder the region to its advantage.
“Offensive missiles play an increasingly prominent role in China’s military modernisation, its coercive threats, and efforts to counter US military capabilities in the Indo-Pacific,” it added.
The review claimed that China has deployed 75-100 ICBMs, including a new road-mobile system and a new multi-warhead version of its silo-based ICBM. Beijing also now possessed four advanced JIN class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), each capable of carrying 12 new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), the CSS-N-14.
Consequently, China could now potentially threaten the US with about 125 nuclear missiles, some capable of employing multiple warheads, and its nuclear forces would increase in the coming years. Beijing also was developing advanced technologies, such as MaRVs and HGVs.
While the US relied on deterrence to protect against large and technically sophisticated Russian and Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile threats to the US homeland, US active missile defence could and must outpace existing and potential rogue state offensive missile capabilities. To do so, the US would pursue advanced missile defence concepts and technologies for homeland defence.
The review said China was also developing missile capabilities intended to deny the US the capability and freedom of action to protect its allies and partners in Asia. A key component of China’s military modernisation was its conventional ballistic missile arsenal designed to prevent US military access to support regional allies and partners.
China was improving its ability to strike regional targets, such as US bases and naval assets, at greater ranges with the addition of the growing number of medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. This included sophisticated anti-ship ballistic missiles that pose a direct threat to US aircraft carriers.