"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Author, "African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement"
July 1, 2020
Sparking a Buildup: U.S. Missile Defense and China's Nuclear Arsenal

Sparking a Buildup: U.S. Missile Defense and China's Nuclear Arsenal

by Charles Ferguson

Tables Accompanying Text

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Table 1: Additional Chinese ICBM Warheads, Based on Expected NMD Plans and Firing Doctrines (Rounded to the Nearest Warhead)

NMD Phase
Firing Doctrine C-1 (20-100 Interceptors) C-2 (100 Interceptors) C-3 (Up to 250 Interceptors)
Shoot-Look-Shoot 10-50 50 125
Barrage 5-25 25 63
Single Shot 20-100 100 250

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Table 2: Re-entry Vehicle (RV) Characteristics of American ICBMs

ICBM RV Yield [kt] (Warhead Type) Number of RVs Throw Weight [kg] RV Weight [kg]
MX/Peacekeeper 300-335 (W87) 10 3,950 200
Minuteman III 335 (W78);

170 (W62)

3 1,100 185
D-5/Trident II 475 (W88) 8 2,800 175
C-4/Trident I 100 (W76) 8 1,500 95
C-3/Poseidon<21> 40 (W68) 14 2,000 70
Sources: John R. Harvey and Stefan Michalowski, "Nuclear Weapons Safety: The Case of Trident," Science & Global Security, Volume 4, Issue 3 (1994), p. 288, in which they use throw-weight values from teh START Memorandum of Understanding to calculate RV weight by assuming that the bus that carries the RVs is about one half the throw weight. Some warhead yield values are from Rovert S. Norris and William M. Arkin, "U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces, End of 1997," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 1998, p. 71.

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Table 3: Upper Limits on Multiple Warheads for Chinese Solid-Fueled Missiles

Missile Throw Weight [kg] RVs for 175 kg

RV (W88 type)

RVs for 70 kg

RV (W68 type)

DF-21/JL-1 600 1 4
DF-31/JL-2 700 2 5
DF-41 800-1,000 2-3 5-7
Sources: Throw-weight estimates are from John Lewis and Hua Di, International Security, Fall 1992, p. 5-40, and Tracking and Nuclear Proliferation: A Guide in Maps and Charts, 1998, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, except for the upper bound on the DF-41 from the Federation of American Scientists.

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