Shocking the international military community like Saddam Hussein did
with his 512-foot-long super-gun in 1990, the Chinese army has tested
its “Taiwan rocket gun,” a new weapon with a range of over 200 miles.
According to a recent report translated from the China Wen Hui Bao
daily, “China has tested a newly developed rocket gun, named the WS-1B,
which claims to have a range of 360 kilometers, the longest range in the
world of a weapon of its kind.”
Beijing’s rocket gun has already raised concern inside the island
nation of Taiwan. “The Chinese rocket gun could hit any area of Taiwan
within minutes, if fired from the coast,” stated a report filed this
month by the Taipei Times.
“Various people have been working on this type of technology for some
time,” noted Frank Gaffney, noted defense analyst, president of the
Center for Security Policy and a former assistant secretary of defense
under President Reagan.
“It stands to reason that the Chinese communists would be interested
in having the capability to attack Taiwan without having to use
missiles. Although I think that when they go, they are not going to be
terribly hung up about breaching the missile ‘threshold.’ Witness their
1996 missile shots into Taiwan’s territorial waters,” said Gaffney.
Reports have surfaced before in the Chinese press suggesting that
Beijing was developing a super-gun. According to a Sept. 1999 article
published by Janes Defense, “reports from Hong Kong say that China North
Industries Corporation has developed a new long-range artillery system,
described as a ‘super range rocket gun,’ with a range of 360
The Iraqi Babylon super-gun lies in ruins after the Gulf War.
“The new reports note that the WS-1B is an artillery rocket,” stated
defense analyst Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the Jamestown
Foundation. According to Fisher, the Chinese super-gun may be more a
rocket than a gun.
“If the PLA were to have such a missile, that would mean that they
have the ability to produce a precision strike SRBM that likely would
cost much less than their DF-15 and DF-11 missiles, and that would allow
a much higher salvo launch rate,” Fisher said. “This kind of missile
deserves close monitoring as it has the potential to rapidly increase
the PLA’s missile inventory aimed at Taiwan.”
According to another defense expert, Beijing may not have to fire its
new rocket gun at Taiwan. Instead, Red China may use its new
super-weapon to win a war of diplomacy with the tiny island democracy.
“Back in the 1980s, people like Norman Podhoretz suggested that the
Soviet arms buildup was not intended to conquer Europe, but to
‘Finlandize’ it, reducing it to neutrality and trading with the Soviet
Union on Soviet terms,” stated defense analyst Philip Gold, a senior
fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute.
“We now know that the Soviet arms buildup was driven far more by
internal dynamics than by coherent grand strategy, but I wonder if China
might not intend to ‘Finlandize’ Taiwan,” suggested Gold.
WorldNetDaily reported that the Taiwan rocket gun is known to be directly related to Hussein’s Babylon super-gun. According to the intelligence source who told WorldNetDaily about the new Chinese weapon, Dr. Gerald Vincent Bull, the designer of the Iraqi Babylon gun, assisted the Chinese artillery maker Norinco in its development of a super-gun.
Bull, considered a rogue scientist, worked with Iraq during the 1980s to develop the Babylon weapon capable of striking Israel. Bull also helped Iraq improve its SCUD missiles. The Iraqi super-gun project was discovered by British intelligence and shut down prior to the Gulf War. That gun was never used, but a smaller gun — “Baby Babylon” — was fired successfully. In 1990, Bull was found murdered outside his Belgian apartment, allegedly killed by Israeli agents.
|The German Paris gun from World War I.|
The 19th century science fiction novelist H.G. Wells popularized giant guns. Nazi Germany, hoping to bombard Britain during World War II, unsuccessfully developed a super-gun codenamed V-3, which was similar to the Iraqi Babylon cannon. Other large German siege guns were often given nicknames such as “Big Bertha” or “Anzio Annie” by the Allied troops that suffered under their shelling. The largest German-designed gun, the World War I Paris gun, fired shells over 70 miles into the French capital.
Super-guns became less attractive after World War II with the introduction of small nuclear warheads and long-range missiles. The Chinese weapon developed by Bull is considered large enough to hurl large chemical or nuclear bombs on Taiwan.
The Chinese army rocket gun may also have an American guidance system. Beijing military sources openly noted that the rocket gun is capable of striking Taiwan from the Chinese mainland with various types of warheads, including guided smart bombs. The report from the China Wen Hui Bao daily noted that “guidance options include the use of GPS,” the American-built Global Positioning Satellite navigation system.
Administration documents show that GPS technology was transferred to China with the approval both President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. According to a 1997 Rand report, in 1996, the Clinton-Gore administration approved the sale of GPS navigation systems directly to a company owned by the Chinese army.
The GPS technology transfer was labeled “disturbing” and “raised serious concerns” in the 1997 Rand Corporation report on the Chinese military industry. The Rand report was made public in a 1998 federal lawsuit filed against the U.S. Commerce Department.
“The most troubling potential transfer to China is Rockwell’s proposed joint venture deal with the Shanghai Broadcast Equipment Factory and the Shanghai Avionics Corporation, the latter of which is a key enterprise of the Aviation Industries of China,” states the 1997 Rand report.
“More accurate GPS systems would enhance the PLA’s ability to carry out attacks against Taiwan’s military and industrial facilities, potentially reducing the ability of the Taiwanese military to defend itself against PRC coercive diplomacy,” the report notes.
“The use of GPS to enhance the accuracy of long-range Chinese cruise missiles, coupled with long-range sensors, would raise serious concerns for the U.S. 7th Fleet in the Pacific and possibly circumscribe their ability to provide an effective deterrent in a crisis over Taiwan,” concluded the Rand Corporation report.