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People's Liberation Army Rocket Force

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People's Liberation Army Rocket Force
Emblem of the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force
Active1 July 1966; 57 years ago (1966-07-01)
Country People's Republic of China
Allegiance Chinese Communist Party[1]
TypeTactical and strategic missile force
RoleStrategic deterrence
Second strike
Size120,000 active personnel
Part of People's Liberation Army
HeadquartersQinghe, Haidian, Beijing, China
("March of the Rocket Force")
WebsiteOfficial website
CommanderGeneral Wang Houbin
Political CommissarGeneral Xu Xisheng
Chief of StaffGeneral Sun Jinming
General Wei Fenghe
Sleeve badge

The People's Liberation Army Rocket Force,[a] formerly the Second Artillery Corps,[b] is the strategic and tactical missile force of the People's Republic of China. The PLARF is the 4th branch of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and controls China's arsenal of land-based ballistic, hypersonic, cruise missiles—both nuclear and conventional. The armed service branch was established on 1 July 1966 and made its first public appearance on 1 October 1984. The headquarters for operations is located at Qinghe, Beijing. The PLARF is under the direct command of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Military Commission (CMC).

The PLARF comprises approximately 120,000 personnel and six ballistic missile "Bases" (units at roughly corps or army group grade), plus 3 support Bases in charge of storage,[2] engineering, and training respectively. The six operational Bases are independently deployed in the five Theaters throughout China.[3][4] and each controls a number of brigades.[needs update]

The name was changed from the PLA Second Artillery Corps to the PLA Rocket Force on 1 January 2016.[5][6] Despite claims by some, there appears to be no evidence to suggest that the new generation of Chinese ballistic-missile submarines will come under PLARF control.[7][8]

China has the largest land-based missile arsenal in the world. According to Pentagon estimates, this includes 1,200 conventionally armed short-range ballistic missiles, 200 to 300 conventional medium-range ballistic missiles and an unknown number of conventional intermediate-range ballistic missiles, as well as 200-300 ground-launched cruise missiles. Many of these are extremely accurate, which would allow them to destroy targets even without nuclear warheads.[9] The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and Federation of American Scientists estimated in 2023 that China has a stockpile of approximately 500 nuclear warheads.[10][11]


In the late 1980s, China was the world's third-largest nuclear power, possessing a small but credible nuclear deterrent force of approximately 100 to 400 nuclear weapons. Beginning in the late 1970s, China deployed a full range of nuclear weapons and acquired a nuclear second-strike capability. The nuclear forces were operated by the 100,000-person Strategic Missile Force, which was controlled directly by the General Staff.

China began developing nuclear weapons in the late 1950s with substantial Soviet assistance. With the Sino-Soviet split in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Soviet Union withheld plans and data for an atomic bomb, abrogated the agreement on transferring defense and nuclear technology, and began the withdrawal of Soviet advisers in 1960. Despite the termination of Soviet assistance, China committed itself to continue nuclear weapons development to break "the superpowers' monopoly on nuclear weapons," to ensure Chinese security against the Soviet and American threats, and to increase Chinese prestige and power internationally.

China made rapid progress in the 1960s in developing nuclear weapons. In a 32-month period, China successfully tested its first atomic bomb on October 16, 1964, at Lop Nor, launched its first nuclear missile on October 27, 1966, and detonated its first hydrogen bomb on June 17, 1967. Deployment of the Dongfeng-1 conventionally armed short-range ballistic missile and the Dongfeng-2 (CSS-1) medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) occurred in the 1960s. The Dongfeng-3 (CCS-2) intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) was successfully tested in 1969. Although the Cultural Revolution disrupted the strategic weapons program less than other scientific and educational sectors in China, there was a slowdown in succeeding years.

Gansu hosted a missile launching area.[12] China destroyed 9 U-2 surveillance craft while two went missing when they attempted to spy on it.[13]

In the 1970s, the nuclear weapons program saw the development of MRBM, IRBM and ICBMs and marked the beginning of a deterrent force. China continued MRBM deployment, began deploying the Dongfeng-3 IRBM and successfully tested and commenced deployment of the Dongfeng-4 (CSS-4) limited-range ICBM.

By 1980, China had overcome the slowdown in nuclear development caused by the Cultural Revolution and had successes in its strategic weapons program. In May 1980, China successfully test launched its full-range ICBM, the Dongfeng-5 (CCS-4); the missile flew from central China to the Western Pacific, where it was recovered by a naval task force. The Dongfeng-5 possessed the capability to hit targets in the Soviet Union and the western United States.

In 1981, China launched three satellites into space orbit from a single launch vehicle, indicating that China might possess the technology to develop multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). China also launched the Type 092 submarine SSBN (Xia-class) in 1981, and the next year it conducted its first successful test launch of the Julang-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile (CSS-NX-4).

In addition to the development of a sea-based nuclear force, China began considering the development of tactical nuclear weapons. PLA exercises featured the simulated use of tactical nuclear weapons in offensive and defensive situations beginning in 1982. Reports of Chinese possession of tactical nuclear weapons had remained unconfirmed in 1987.

In 1986, China possessed a credible deterrent force with land, sea and air elements. Land-based forces included ICBMs, IRBMs, and MRBMs. The sea-based strategic force consisted of SSBNs. The Air Force's bombers were capable of delivering nuclear bombs but would be unlikely to penetrate the sophisticated air defenses of modern military powers.

China's nuclear forces, in combination with the PLA's conventional forces, served to deter both nuclear and conventional attacks on the Chinese lands. Chinese leaders pledged to not use nuclear weapons first (no first use), but pledged to absolutely counter-attack with nuclear weapons if nuclear weapons are used against China. China envisioned retaliation against strategic and tactical attacks and would probably strike countervalue rather than counterforce targets.

The combination of China's few nuclear weapons and technological factors such as range, accuracy, and response time limited the effectiveness of nuclear strikes against counterforce targets. China has been seeking to increase the credibility of its nuclear retaliatory capability by dispersing and concealing its nuclear forces in difficult terrain, improving their mobility, and hardening its missile silos.

The CJ-10 long-range cruise missile made its first public appearance during the military parade on the 60th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China; the CJ-10 represents the next generation in rocket weapons technology in the PLA.

In late 2009, it was reported that the Corps was constructing a 3,000–5,000-kilometre (1,900–3,100 mi) long underground launch and storage facility for nuclear missiles in the Hebei province.[14] 47 News reported that the facility was likely located in the Taihang Mountains.[15]

The DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) made its first flight test on 9 January 2014;[16] it likely entered service by October 2019.[17] It is believed to have atop speed of Mach 10, or 12,360 km/h (7,680 mph).[18]

Two Chinese technical papers from December 2012 and April 2013 show that China has concluded that hypersonic weapons pose "a new aerospace threat" and that they are developing satellite directed precision guidance systems. China is the third country to enter the "hypersonic arms race" after Russia and the United States. The U.S. Air Force has flown the X-51A Waverider technology demonstrator and the U.S. Army has flight tested the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon.[citation needed] China later confirmed the successful test flight of a "hypersonic missile delivery vehicle," but claimed it was part of a scientific experiment and not aimed at a target.[19]

US Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center estimated that as of 2023 the number of Chinese nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States has expanded well over 200.[20]

In June 2021, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies has found out that China is constructing new missile silo field in Gansu in western China. According to the satellite picture, 119 missile silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles are under construction near Yumen City.[21] In July, Federation Of American Scientists found out there are another 110 silos being built in Hami, Xinjiang. The two significant expansion projects include silos more than ten times the number of ICBM silos in operation of PLARF today.[22]

In July 2021, China tested globe-circling hypersonic missile including the unprecedented launch of a separate 2nd missile from the ultra-high-speed vehicle according to the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal. The test showed China's development of its strategic, nuclear-capable weapons as more advanced than any had thought, surprising Pentagon officials, the two newspapers said. Neither the United States nor Russia has demonstrated the same ability, which requires launching a missile from a parent vehicle traveling five times the speed of sound. According to reporting by the Financial Times, this weapons system consists of two parts: a fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS) and a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV).[23][24]

In July 2023, South China Morning Post reported that PLARF commander Li Yuchao and deputy commander Liu Guangbin were under the investigation of the Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Central Military Commission. Later that month, both Li Yuchao and Liu Guangbin were officially removed from their posts, while Wang Houbin was appointed as the commander PLARF.[25] Additionally, Xu Xisheng was appointed as the political commissar.[26] Li Yuchao and Liu Guangbin's expulsion has not been formally explained. There are rumors that they are being investigated for corruption or disclosing military secrets.[27][28] Furthermore, it was thought to be an odd decision to replace the Rocket Force commander with military personnel from outside the branch, and this led to concerns about the security, credibility, and integrity of the PLA as well as its participation in China's military tactics during the Taiwan Strait conflict.[29]

Missile ranges[edit]



Title 上将
Shang jiang
Zhong jiang
Shao jiang
Da xiao
Shang xiao
Zhong xiao
Shao xiao
Shang wei
Zhong wei
Shao wei
Xue yuan
Equivalent translation General Lieutenant general Major general Senior colonel Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain First lieutenant Second lieutenant Officer cadet
Shoulder insignia
Collar insignia


Rank group 高级军士
Gao ji jun shi
Zhong ji jun shi
Chu ji jun shi
Yi wu bing
Title 一级军士长
Yi ji jun shi zhang
Er ji jun shi zhang
San ji jun shi zhang
Yī jí jūnshì
yi ji shang shi
shang shi
Xia shi
Shang deng bing
Lie bing
Equivalent translation Master sergeant first class Master sergeant second class Master sergeant third class Sergeant First Class Sergeant Second Class Sergeant Corporal Private first class Private
Shoulder insignia
Collar insignia

Active missiles[edit]

It is currently somewhat unclear as to whether the Chinese theater commands or the PLARF itself has operational control over the conventional ballistic missile units, though it seems likely that the PLARF acts in coordination with, but not taking orders from, the theater commands with regards to the use of conventional ballistic missiles, with control of nuclear weapons continuing to be exercised at the Central Military Commission level.[30]

Missiles Operated by the PLARF[31]
Missile Chinese name NATO name Image Est. Max Range Estimated Launchers Est. Nuclear Warheads
Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGVs) Chinese: 高超音速飞行器; pinyin: gāochāo yīnsù fēixíngqì
DF-ZF "DF-ZF"[32] None (WU-14) 1500+ km ? 0
Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) Chinese: 洲际弹道导弹; pinyin: zhōujì dàndào dǎodàn
Dongfeng-41 simplified Chinese: 东风-41; traditional Chinese: 東風-41 CSS-20 12,000–15,000 km Mobile:36
Silo:330 building??[33]
Dongfeng-31 simplified Chinese: 东风-31; traditional Chinese: 東風-31 CSS-10 12,000 km DF-31:6
Dongfeng-5 simplified Chinese: 东风-5; traditional Chinese: 東風-5 CSS-4 12,000–15,000 km DF-5A:6
Dongfeng-4 simplified Chinese: 东风-4; traditional Chinese: 東風-4 CSS-3 5,500 km 6? 0
Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs) Chinese: 远程弹道导弹; pinyin: yuǎnchéng dàndào dǎodàn
Dongfeng-26 simplified Chinese: 东风-26; traditional Chinese: 東風-26 CSS-18 5,000 km 140+
Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBMs) Chinese: 中程弹道导弹; pinyin: zhōng chéng dàndào dǎodàn
Dongfeng-21 simplified Chinese: 东风-21; traditional Chinese: 東風-21 CSS-5 1,500–1,770 km DF-21A/E: 24
DF-21D: 30
Dongfeng-17 simplified Chinese: 东风-17; traditional Chinese: 東風-17 CSS-22 1,800–2,500 km 48 ?
Dongfeng-16 simplified Chinese: 东风-16; traditional Chinese: 東風-16 CSS-11 800-1,000 km 36
Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs) Chinese: 短程弹道导弹; pinyin: duǎnchéng dàndào dǎodàn
Dongfeng-15 simplified Chinese: 东风-15; traditional Chinese: 東風-15 CSS-6 600–900 km DF-15B: 81
Dongfeng-12 (M20) simplified Chinese: 东风-12; traditional Chinese: 東風-12 CSS-X-15 Not available 280–420 km
Dongfeng-11 (M11) simplified Chinese: 东风-11; traditional Chinese: 東風-11 CSS-7 300–600 km DF-11A: 108
B-611 "B611" CSS-11 Not available 480 km
Cruise Missiles Chinese: 巡航导弹; pinyin: xúnháng dǎodàn
CJ-10 simplified Chinese: 长剑-10; traditional Chinese: 長劍-10 None 1,500+ km CJ-10: 72
CJ-100: 54

Obsolete missiles[edit]

  • DF-3A, CSS-2 (IRBM) – In service from 1971 to 2014


The People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) is under the direct command of the Central Military Commission (CMC).[35]

It has been commanded by Wang Houbin since July 2023,[25] and by Deputy Commanders Li Chuanguang (李传广) and Chen Guangjun (陈光军) and an unknown chief of staff. PLA Rocket Force Command is also led by Political Commissar Xu Xisheng and Deputy Political Commissar Yu Guang (禹光). PLARF Command has four direct-reporting units which are not within the command's headquarters nor the subordinate bases: PLARF Staff Department, Political Work Department, Equipment Department, and Logistics Department.[35]

  • Staff Department (参谋部)
    • Operations Support Group (参谋部作战保障大队, Unit 96942) in Changping, Beijing
      • Reconnaissance Regiment (侦察团, Unit 96943) in Yanqing, Beijing
      • Survey and Mapping (测绘大队, Unit 96944) in Chanping, Beijing
      • Communications Regiment (参谋部通信团, Unit 96946) in Haidian, Beijing
    • Electronic Countermeasures Regiment (参谋部电子对抗团, Unit 96945), in Baoding, Hebei
    • UAV Unit (无人机部队) in Quanzhou, Fujian
    • Automated Command Center (自动化指挥中心) in Haidian, Beijing
    • New Soldier Training Regiment (新兵团) in Tangshan, Hebei
    • Meteorology Center (气象中心) in Changping, Beijing
    • Cruise Missile Mission Planning Center (巡航导弹任务规划中心, Unit 96941) in Changping, Beijing
    • Technical Reconnaissance Bureau (火箭军技术侦察局) in Haidian, Beijing
  • Political Work Department (政治工作部)
    • Organization Bureau (组织局)
    • Cadre Bureau (干部局)
    • Propaganda Bureau (宣传局)
    • Military and Civilian Personnel Bureau (兵员和文职人员局)
    • Mass Work Liaison Bureau (群工联络局)
  • Equipment Department (装备部)
    • Comprehensive Planning Bureau (综合计划局)
    • Scientific Research and Purchasing Bureau (科研订购局)
    • Experimentation Supervision Bureau (试验监管局)
    • Directly Subordinate Work Bureau (直属工作局)
    • Nuclear Technology and Equipment Bureau (核技术装备局)
  • Logistics Department (后勤部)
    • Finance Bureau (财务局)
    • Medical Bureau (卫生局)
    • Transport and Delivery Bureau (运输投送局)
    • Military Infrastructure and Construction Bureau (军事设施建设局)
    • Purchase and Supply Bureau (采购供应局)
    • Functional Bureau (业务局)
    • Combat Service and Planning Bureau (战勤计划局)
    • Directly Subordinate Work Bureau (直属工作局)

Unit designators[edit]

Each unit of the PLA maintains both a True Unit Designator (TUD, Chinese: 部队番号; pinyin: bùduì fānhào) and a Military Unit Cover Designator (MUCD, Chinese: 部队代号; pinyin: bùduì dàihào). A unit's TUD is intended for internal use while the MUCD is intended to be used externally to protect and conceal the true identity of the unit. For example, the first brigade of the Base 61 has the TUD "611 Brigade" and the MUCD "Unit 96711". MUCDs do, however, often reveal the a unit's echelon, mission, and subordination. Although the system has changed at least four times since 1950, current PLARF MUCDs are five digits which begin with '96'. PLARF MUCDs whose third digit is 1–5 are pre-2017 reform and are obsolete.[35]

Order of battle[edit]

The PLARF is organized into nine bases (each of corps command grade, roughly equivalent to a group army, or army corps), ordinally numbered from Base 61 through Base 69. The first six bases (61 through 66) are operations bases assigned to the various geographic theater commands of the PRC while three bases (67 through 69) conduct support missions.[35][36] PLARF bases are typically led by an officer in a Corps or Corps Deputy Leader grade. Each of the six operations bases maintains a mix of nuclear and conventional armaments specific to their geographic command's mission. For example, as a component of the Eastern Theater Command (responsible for a potential conflict with Taiwan), Base 61 is armed primarily with short-range conventional missiles while the more inland Bases 64 and 66 operate long-range nuclear-capable missiles.[35] These six operations bases are all similarly structured with a base headquarters, staff department (参谋部), political work department (政治工作部), support department, six to eight subordinate missile brigades (导弹旅), a base hospital ([医院), and training ([训练团), communications ([通信团), operational support (作战保障团), comprehensive support ([综合保障团), and inspection (装检团) regiments.[35] The operational support regiment in each of the six operations bases provides security, engineering, meteorology, survey and mapping, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) defense.[35] Each base's comprehensive support regiment is responsible for equipment (including vehicles and missile) repair, maintenance, fueling, and storage — the result of a 2017 merge of base repair factories (修配厂) with technical service regiments (技术勤务团). Base equipment inspection regiments are responsible for nuclear warhead logistics including storage, maintenance, and distribution at each base. Exceptions to this standard base structure: Base 61 commands an additional regiment for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations, Base 63 commands an additional regiment for ICBM liquid fueling, and Base 64 possesses an equipment inspection brigade as opposed to the standard regiment.[35]

Operational Bases[edit]

PLARF Operations Bases
Theater Command Base Brigade Chinese name Missile type Location Nuclear capable Comments
Eastern Theater Command 61 Headquarters Huangshan, Anhui 29°41′44″N 118°17′59″E / 29.6956°N 118.2997°E / 29.6956; 118.2997 HQ base
611 六十一基地611旅 DF-26 Chizhou, Anhui 30°41′25″N 117°54′04″E / 30.6903°N 117.9011°E / 30.6903; 117.9011 Yes Formerly DF-21
612 六十一基地612旅 DF-21A (DF-31AG?) Leping, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi 28°58′47″N 117°07′14″E / 28.9797°N 117.1205°E / 28.9797; 117.1205 Yes Possibly upgrading to DF-31AG
613 六十一基地613旅 DF-15B (DF-17??) Shangrao, Anhui 28°28′28″N 117°53′43″E / 28.4745°N 117.8954°E / 28.4745; 117.8954 No Possibly upgrading to DF-17
614 六十一基地614旅 DF-17 Yong'an, Fujian 26°03′35″N 117°18′54″E / 26.0596°N 117.3151°E / 26.0596; 117.3151 Maybe First DF-17 brigade
615 六十一基地615旅 DF-11A Meizhou, Guangdong 24°16′58″N 115°58′15″E / 24.2828°N 115.9708°E / 24.2828; 115.9708 No
616 六十一基地616旅 DF-15 (DF-17?) Ganzhou, Jiangxi 25°53′57″N 114°57′31″E / 25.8992°N 114.9587°E / 25.8992; 114.9587 Maybe Possibly relocated and upgrading to DF-17
617 六十一基地617旅 DF-16 Jinhua, Zhejiang 29°09′03″N 119°36′55″E / 29.1508°N 119.6153°E / 29.1508; 119.6153 No Second DF-16 brigade
618 六十一基地618旅 GLCM? Nanchang, Jiangxi 28°30′01″N 115°55′17″E / 28.5004°N 115.9214°E / 28.5004; 115.9214 Unknown New base
Southern Theater Command 62 Headquarters Kunming, Yunnan 24°59′20″N 102°50′05″E / 24.9888°N 102.8346°E / 24.9888; 102.8346 HQ Base
621 六十二基地621旅 DF-31AG Yibin, Sichuan 28°45′39″N 104°47′29″E / 28.7607°N 104.7914°E / 28.7607; 104.7914 Yes Upgraded from DF-21A
622 六十二基地622旅 DF-31A Yuxi, Yunnan 24°21′36″N 102°29′39″E / 24.3601°N 102.4942°E / 24.3601; 102.4942 Yes Former DF-21A
623 六十二基地623旅 CJ-10A Liuzhou, Guangxi 24°23′08″N 109°34′21″E / 24.3856°N 109.5726°E / 24.3856; 109.5726 No First CJ-10A brigade
624 六十二基地624旅 DF-21C/D Danzhou, Hainan 19°28′20″N 109°27′25″E / 19.4721°N 109.4570°E / 19.4721; 109.4570 No possibly upgrading to new missile
625 六十二基地625旅 DF-26 Jianshui, Yunnan 23°44′07″N 102°52′17″E / 23.7354°N 102.8713°E / 23.7354; 102.8713 Yes Second DF-26 brigade
626 六十二基地626旅 DF-26 Qingyuan, Guangdong 23°41′04″N 113°10′36″E / 23.6845°N 113.1768°E / 23.6845; 113.1768 Yes Third DF-26 brigade
627 六十二基地627旅 DF-17 Puning. Jieyang, Guangdong 23°24′44″N 116°10′54″E / 23.4122°N 116.1816°E / 23.4122; 116.1816 Maybe Base expansion underway as of 2024
63 Headquarters Huaihua, Hunan 27°34′29″N 110°01′30″E / 27.5747°N 110.0250°E / 27.5747; 110.0250 HQ Base
631 六十三基地631旅 DF-5B Jingzhou, Hubei 26°34′42″N 109°40′13″E / 26.5783°N 109.6703°E / 26.5783; 109.6703 Yes 6 silos, adding 6 more
632 六十三基地632旅 DF-31AG Shaoyang, Hunan 27°15′12″N 111°23′09″E / 27.2532°N 111.3859°E / 27.2532; 111.3859 Yes Upgraded from DF-31
633 六十三基地633旅 DF-5A Huitong, Hunan 26°53′37″N 109°44′20″E / 26.8935°N 109.7388°E / 26.8935; 109.7388 Yes 6 silos
634 六十三基地634旅 Potentially DF-5C? Yueyang, Hunan 29°35′18″N 113°39′48″E / 29.5882°N 113.6632°E / 29.5882; 113.6632 Yes 12-silo field under construction
635 六十三基地635旅 DF-17? Yichun, Jiangxi 27°53′13″N 114°23′10″E / 27.8869°N 114.3862°E / 27.8869; 114.3862 No Formerly CJ-10
636 六十三基地636旅 DF-16A Shaoguan, Guangdong 24°45′28″N 113°40′47″E / 24.7579°N 113.6797°E / 24.7579; 113.6797 No First DF-16A brigade
Western Theater Command 64 Headquarters HQ base Lanzhou, Gansu 35°56′19″N 104°00′57″E / 35.9387°N 104.0159°E / 35.9387; 104.0159
641 六十四基地641旅 DF-31A or DF=41 Hancheng, Shaanxi 35°28′31″N 110°26′48″E / 35.4754°N 110.4468°E / 35.4754; 110.4468 Yes Upgrading from DF-31
642 六十四基地642旅 DF-31AG Datong, Shanxi 36°56′58″N 101°39′59″E / 36.9495°N 101.6663°E / 36.9495; 101.6663 Yes
643 六十四基地643旅 DF-31AG Tianshui, Gansu 34°31′53″N 105°54′37″E / 34.5315°N 105.9103°E / 34.5315; 105.9103 Yes first DF-31AG brigade
644 六十四基地644旅 DF-41 Hanzhong, Shaanxi 33°07′56″N 106°56′10″E / 33.1321°N 106.9361°E / 33.1321; 106.9361 Yes
645 六十四基地645旅 Df-31AG, DF-41?? Yinchuan, Ningxia 38°35′31″N 106°13′36″E / 38.5919°N 106.2266°E / 38.5919; 106.2266 Yes Possible second DF-41 brigade
646 六十四基地646旅 DF-26 Korla, Xinjiang 41°41′41″N 86°10′24″E / 41.6946°N 86.1734°E / 41.6946; 86.1734 Yes Previously DF-21
647 六十四基地647旅 DF-26? Xining, Qinghai 36°26′40″N 101°33′08″E / 36.4444°N 101.5523°E / 36.4444; 101.5523 Yes? Possible new base
? ? ? Hami, Xinjiang 42°16′50″N 92°29′45″E / 42.2806°N 92.4959°E / 42.2806; 92.4959 DF-31A? DF-41? 120-silo field.
? ? ? Yumen, Gansu 40°08′42″N 96°33′06″E / 40.1449°N 96.5518°E / 40.1449; 96.5518 DF-31A? DF-41? 110-silo field.
Northern Theater Command 65 Headquarters Shenyang, Liaoning 41°51′31″N 123°27′05″E / 41.8586°N 123.4514°E / 41.8586; 123.4514 HQ base
651 六十五基地651旅 DF-31AG?, DF-41 Chifeng, Inner Mongolia 42°15′27″N 118°49′30″E / 42.2574°N 118.8249°E / 42.2574; 118.8249 No New base, almost complete (as of 2024)
652 六十五基地652旅 DF-41?, DF-31AG? Tonghua, Jilin 43°56′10″N 126°27′03″E / 43.9362°N 126.4507°E / 43.9362; 126.4507 Yes
653 六十五基地653旅 DF-21D Laiwu, Shandong 36°14′00″N 117°42′55″E / 36.2332°N 117.7154°E / 36.2332; 117.7154 No Possibly upgrading to new missile
654 六十五基地654旅 DF-26 Dengshahe, Liaoning 39°18′10″N 122°03′55″E / 39.3028°N 122.0654°E / 39.3028; 122.0654 No
655 六十五基地655旅 DF-17? Tonghua, Jilin 41°40′05″N 125°57′17″E / 41.6681°N 125.9548°E / 41.6681; 125.9548 No Base upgrade underway (as of 2024)
656 六十五基地656旅 CJ-100? Laiwu, Shandong 36°14′46″N 117°39′12″E / 36.246°N 117.65326°E / 36.246; 117.65326 No First CJ-100 brigade?
657 六十五基地657旅 ? ? ?
Brigade? DF-31A? DF-41 Yulin, Shaanxi 40°09′35″N 108°06′41″E / 40.1597°N 108.1113°E / 40.1597; 108.1113 Yes? 90-silo field?
Central Theater Command 66 Headquarters Luoyang, Henan 34°38′26″N 112°22′56″E / 34.6405°N 112.3823°E / 34.6405; 112.3823 HQ base
661 六十六基地661旅 DF-5B Lushi, Henan 34°30′59″N 110°51′43″E / 34.5165°N 110.8620°E / 34.5165; 110.8620 Yes 6 silos
662 六十六基地662旅 DF-5C? Luanchuan, Henan 33°47′34″N 111°35′24″E / 33.7927°N 111.5899°E / 33.7927; 111.5899 Yes 12 new silos under construction 2024
663 六十六基地663旅 DF-31A Nanyang, Henan 33°00′42″N 112°24′52″E / 33.0117°N 112.4145°E / 33.0117; 112.4145 Yes First DF-31A brigade
664 六十六基地664旅 DF-31 or DF-31AG Xiangyang, Hubei 31°56′39″N 112°07′11″E / 31.9443°N 112.1197°E / 31.9443; 112.1197 Yes
665 六十六基地665旅 DF-26? Changzhi, Shanxi 36°15′29″N 113°10′43″E / 36.2580°N 113.1785°E / 36.2580; 113.1785 Maybe New brigade base
666 六十六基地666旅 DF-26 Xinyang, Henan 32°10′03″N 114°07′33″E / 32.1675°N 114.1257°E / 32.1675; 114.1257 Yes First DF-26 brigade
66? ? Sanmenxia, Henan 34°43′46″N 111°10′38″E / 34.7294°N 111.1773°E / 34.7294; 111.1773 ? New base under construction

Base 61[edit]

Base 61 was founded in August 1965 as unit 121 in Guangyang Township of Shitai County in Anhui Province and is responsible for the construction of missile silos.[38] The base itself was built in June 1966 under Project 303, and was designated as the 52nd Base of the Second Artillery Corp under the Nanjing Military Region on 25 May 1968. In 2016, the PLA Rocket Force assumed authority over the base. On 18 April 2017, under orders from Xi Jinping and the Central Military Commission, the base was re-designated Base 61.

Base 65[edit]

Base 65, headquartered in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, operates with the PLA's Northern Theater Command and stations units in the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Shandong. Base 65 was founded in September 1964 as the 51st Base Command of the Second Artillery Corps (now the PLARF) under the 302 Project, and then approved by committee on November 1. On 25 May 1968, it was transferred to the Second Artillery Force. In 1970, Base 65 moved to Tonghua City in Jilin Province. In 1992, it moved to its current home in Shenyang. It was transferred to the PLA Rocket Force in 2016. On 18 April 2017, under orders from CCP general secretary and CMC chairman Xi Jinping, the base was realigned and redesignated as the 65th Base.[38][39]

Base 67[edit]

The PLARF operates another base, Base 67,[39] MUCD: 96607, which is responsible for nuclear warhead storage (The "National Treasure", 国宝), warhead transport, warhead inspection and nuclear weapon's training. It is believed to form part of the nuclear C3 (command, control and communications) network, though it is unknown if this network is PLARF-only, shared between the PLARF and military commands, or if it used by the Central Military Commission, which is believed to have its own communication system for the nuclear forces.[40]

The main nuclear storage facility is reportedly located in Taibai County, where large-scale tunneling activities have taken place. The main storage depot is apparently under Mount Taibai itself, with related Base 67 facilities spread throughout the rest of the county. It appears that each missile Base also has its own smaller storage facility and depot.[40]

It is likely that warheads that require maintenance or testing, as well as a centralized reserve stock, are held at the Mount Taibai facility, with relatively few warheads distributed to the bases and brigades. It is likely that missile bases would receive additional warheads from the central depot in times of high tension. It seems that the structure of a main unit in Taibai County, with smaller replica units throughout the bases, is repeated in the transportation units.[40]

Warhead and missile transport in China is heavily reliant on the rail and road systems, likely why a large-scale rail project was constructed in the 1960s by the PLA in the area of Baoji, a large city in Shaanxi province and the location of Base 67's headquarters since that same time period. This became a concern after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, where the vulnerability of transport networks in Shaanxi province was dramatically proven.[citation needed]


Units believed to be subordinate to Base 67 are:[2]

  • Missile Technical Service Brigade [导弹技术勤务旅] The main stockpile management unit.
  • Unit 96038 [96038 部队]
  • Training Regiment [训练团]
  • Communications Regiment [通信团]
  • Operations Support Regiment [作战保障团]
  • Comprehensive Support Regiment [综合保障团]
  • Air Defense Regiment (no characters given)
  • 2nd Comprehensive Defense (ECM) Regiment [综合防护二团]
  • Equipment Inspection Institute [装检研究所]
  • Special Equipment Transport Regiment [特装运输团]
  • PLARF Emergency Management Group [应急处置大队]
  • Unit 96607 Hospital [96607 部队医院]

Base 68[edit]

Base 68 (68 基地) MUCD: 96608[2] is the PLARF's engineering support base, in charge for the construction and maintenance of the physical infrastructure of the Force. Established in 2012, it is headquartered in Luoyang, Henan It consists of 6 Engineering Brigades, two of which specialize in installation, a Communications Engineering Regiment responsible for laying down the PLARF’s physical communications infrastructure (fiber optics), a specialized "hostile environment" wireless communication regiment, and a Communications Repair and Maintenance Regiment.


  • 1st Engineering Brigade (工程一旅)
  • 2nd Engineering Brigade (工程二旅)
  • 3rd Engineering Brigade (工程三旅)
  • 4th Engineering Brigade (工程四旅)
  • 5th Engineering Brigade (工程五旅)
  • 6th Engineering Brigade (工程六旅)
  • Training Regiment (训练团)
  • Communications Regiment (通信团)
  • Comprehensive Support Regiment (综合保障团)
  • Communications Engineering Regiment (通信工程团)
  • Engineering Maintenance Support Group (工程维护保障大队)
  • Construction Project Technical Management Center (施工技术管理营)
  • Security and Communications Battalion (警卫通信营)

Base 69[edit]

Base 69 (69 基地)[2] MUCD: 96609 is a Test and Training Base [试验训练基地]. It was established in early 2017, gathering together a number of test and training districts and units. It is headquartered in Yinchuan and comprises four new Test and Training Districts, as well as several regiments supporting testing and training missions.

Most notable are the Blue Team OPFOR units that subject PLARF training units to attack during exercises


  • 1st Test and Training District (第一试验训练区) MUCD: 96791 Bayanhaote, Inner Mongolia
    • Blue Team OPFOR Regiment (蓝军团) These unit fields a whole array of opponent capabilities, including reconnaissance and surveillance, frequency jamming, precision strike, SOF raids, UAVs, electronic reconnaissance, and electromagnetic jamming.
    • Measurement and Control Regiment [测控团]
  • 2nd Test and Training District (第二试验训练区) MUCD: 96792 Jinyu, Jilin
  • 3rd Test and Training District (第三试验训练区) MUCD: 96793 Qakilik, Xinjiang
    • Blue Eagles EW Blue Team.
  • 4th Test and Training District (第四试验训练区) MUCD: 96794 Guiyang, Guizhou
  • Kelan Launch Service Station (岢岚发射勤务站) MUCD: 96891 Kelan, Shanxi. Supporting the Taiyuan Launch Site. Testing DF-41
  • Unit 96795 (96795 部队) UAV Training. Xixia, Ningxia
  • Measurement and Control Group (测控大队)

Other branches[edit]

  • PLARF Special Operations Group (火箭军特种作战团), called "Sharp Blades Commando Battalion (利刃特种大队)" is the specially trained unit of the PLARF that responds to the highest-risk situations (such as Counter-SOF operations) within a PLARF base, compound, or missile site. The unit is also designated to escort missiles and nuclear weapons, and to protect missiles/infrastructure.[41]

Command, control, and communications[edit]

The PLARF has operated a separate command and control structure from the rest of the PLA since 1967.[42] The goal of the system is to ensure tight control of nuclear warheads at the highest levels of government. This is done by the Central Military Commission having direct control of the PLARF, outside of the structure of military regions.

For nuclear weapons, the command structure is believed to run from the CMC, to the headquarters of the PLARF in Beijing, from there to each Rocket Base, and from each Rocket Base down to the individual Brigade. From there, the Brigade transmits firing orders to the launch companies under its control. In the case of conventional ballistic missiles, it is reasonable to assume that more autonomy will be provided in wartime, with command likely being issued from the Bases, which are believed to coordinate with their respective Military Regions on targeting and conventional missile use.

Chinese nuclear C3 capabilities are centered around fiber-optic and satellite-based communication networks, replacing older radio command networks that made up the-then Second Artillery's C3 infrastructure before the 1990s. While historically Chinese nuclear missile forces had to launch from pre-prepared sites, the newest generation of nuclear-capable missiles (the DF-26 and DF-31AG) have been seen deploying to, and launching from, unprepared sites in exercises.

This would corroborate reports that PLARF communications regiments are being trained in the ability to set up telephone and command networks "on-the-fly". The reason for these changes likely has to do with concerns about PLARF survivability; China's commitment to a no-first-use policy means that its nuclear forces have to be capable of both surviving a first-strike, and receiving the orders required to fire back.

Transporter erector launchers[edit]

Tractor trucks[edit]

Operations in Saudi Arabia[edit]

The PLARF Golden Wheel Project (Chinese Wikipedia: 金轮工程) co-operates the DF-3 and DF-21 medium-range ballistic missiles in Saudi Arabia since the establishment of Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force in 1984.[43][44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ PLARF; Chinese: 中国人民解放军火箭军; pinyin: Zhōngguó Rénmín Jiěfàngjūn Huǒjiàn Jūn
  2. ^ Chinese: 第二炮兵



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External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]