How ‘Nuclear-Capable’ is India and China?

With recent military conflicts between India and China over territorial boundaries, the question of whether the two nations will get into war is likely in every person’s head.
It is well known that the two nations are great nuclear powers, but what impact will this lead to in case the two nations get into a nuclear war?

The article analyzes the nuclear strength of both India and China bringing in doubt who might win the battle.

Also Read: Who is the Mightier – Chinese Dragon or India’s Elephant?

Chinese Nuclear Strike – Force & Range

An estimated 104 Chinese missiles could strike all or parts of India. The weaponry includes about a dozen DF-31A and six to twelve DF-31 missiles capable enough of reaching all Indian mainland targets. Another dozen DF-21s hold New Delhi at risk. The remaining missiles can target sections of India’s northeast and east coast.

Map of China’s Nuclear Strike Range
Missile TypeRocket Force Base and LocationColor (of circle)Approx. Missile Range (miles)
DF-31ABase 56: Beidao/ Tawanli, Gansu ProvinceYellow6,830
DF-21, DF-31Base 56: Xining, Qinghai ProvinceBright Green1,335 (DF-21)4,350 (DF-31)
DF-21, DF-31Base 56: Delingha, Qinghai ProvinceRed1,335 (DF-21)4,350 (DF-31)
DF-21Base 56: Liuqingkou, Qinghai ProvinceBlack1,335
DF-21Base 56: Korla, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region White 1,335
DF-21Base 53: Jianshui, Yunnan ProvinceBlue1,335
DF-21Base 53: Chuxiong, Yunnan ProvinceDark Green1,335
DF-41Base: Heilongjiang12-15,000

China’s Nuclear Forces Strike Range

IconNameNuclear and Nuclear-Capable Missile NumbersLocation (URLs)
  Chuxiong Brigade, 53rd Base ~ 12 x DF-21 (2,150km range)With Strike Range Filter No Filter
 Kunming Brigade, 53rd Base ~ 12 x DF-21 (2,150 km range)With Strike Range Filter No Filter
 Tianshui Brigade, 53rd Base ~ 12 x DF-21 (2,150 km range)With Strike Range Filter No Filter
  Beidao/Tawanli Brigade, 56th Base ~ 12 x DF-31A (11,000 km range)With Strike Range Filter No Filter
      Xining Brigade, 56th Base ~ 12 x DF-21 (2,150 km range) / DF-31 (7,000 km range) With Strike Range Filter
No Filter(Unable to determine exact missile locations, so location of 56th Base HQ utilized)
  Datong Brigade, 56th Base ~ 12 x DF-21 (2,150 km range)With Strike Range Filter No Filter
  Liuqingkou Brigade, 56th Base ~ 12 x DF-21 (2,150 km range)With Strike Range Filter No Filter
   Delingha Brigade, 56th Base~ 12 x DF-21 (2,150 km range) /DF-31 (7,000 km range).
DF-21C (2,150km range) conventional missiles.
With Strike Range Filter No Filter
          Da Qaidam Brigade, 56th Base  DF-21C (2,150km range) conventional missiles. Unknown nuclear missile deployments. (Previously DF-4 Brigade, but only DF-4 Brigade still in operation is close to Lingbao in Henan Province).With Strike Range Filter No Filter
 Mahai Brigade, 56th Base UnknownWith Strike Range Filter No Filter
    Korla Brigade, 56th Base~ 12 x DF-21 (2,150 km range) missiles. DF-21C (2,150km range) conven- tional missiles With Strike Range Filter No Filter
   Total Nuclear and Nuclear-Capable Forces > 104 missiles that can strike all or elements of India, including: ~ 12 x DF-31A (11,000 km range),~ 6-12 DF-31 (7,000 km range) that can reach all Indian mainland targets. ~ 12 x DF-21 (2,150 km range) that can reach New Delhi. The remaining missiles can target sections of India’s northeast and east coast.

Indian Nuclear Strike – Force & Range

The bulk of India’s missile forces are located closer to Pakistan than China. According to an estimate, around ten Agni-III launchers can reach the entire Chinese mainland. Another eight Agni-II launchers can reach central Chinese targets.

An estimated two squadrons of Jaguar IS and one squadron of Mirage 2000H fighters, totaling around 51 aircraft, are assessed to be tasked with nuclear missions. These aircraft could most likely reach Tibetan airspace equipped with nuclear gravity bombs.

Going deep down into Chinese territories would turn out to be difficult as these aircrafts can be identified and tracked Chinese air defenses.

Map of India’s Nuclear Strike Range
Nuclear Delivery Vehicle TypeLocationColor (of circle)Approx. Range (miles)
Agni-IIIAssam StateYellow1,990
Agni-IIAssam StateRed1,240
Mirage 2000H fighters, with nuclear gravity bombs Gwalior AFS, Madhya Pradesh State Green 920
Jaguar IS fighters, with nuclear gravity bombsAmbala AFS, Haryana State Pink 560
Jaguar IS fighters, with nuclear gravity bombsGorakhpur AFS, Uttar Pradesh State Blue 560

India’s Nuclear Forces Strike Range

IconNameNuclear and Nuclear-Certified Delivery VehiclesLocation
     Ambala AFS~ 17 nuclear-certified ground attack aircraft to carry gravity bombs, #5 Sq. & #14 Sq. Jaguar IS  With Strike Range Filter
      Gwalior/ Maharajpur AFS ~ 17 nuclear-certified fighters to carry gravity bombs, #1 Sq., #7 Sq., & #9 Sq. Mirage 2000H/TH.  With Strike Range Filter(Dark Blue Circle)
      Gorakhpur AFS ~ 17 nuclear-certified ground attack aircraft to carry gravity bombs, #16 Sq. & #27 Sq. Jaguar IS  With Strike Range Filter
  444 Missile Group Brigade     (Possible General Brigade Sites) ~ 8 Prithvi-II (250 km range) missile launchers totalOn Strike Range Map (No Strike Range Circle)
  444 Missile Group Brigade
  444 Missile Group Brigade
  444 Missile Group Brigade
     334 Missile Group, 3341 Brigade ~ 8 Agni-III (3,200 km range) missile launchers,~ 8 Agni-II (2,000 km range) missile launchers  With Strike Range Filter (Green Circle)
  333 Missile Group, 3332 Brigade~ 8 Prithvi-II (250 km range) mis- sile launchersOn Strike Range Map (No Circle)
   332 Missile Group Brigade~ 8 Agni-II (2,000 km range) missile launchersWith Strike Range Filter (Purple Circle)
  334 Missile Group, 3341 Brigade~ 10 Agni-I (1,000km range) mis- sile launchersOn Strike Range Map (No Circle)
   333 Missile Group, 3331and 3332 Brigades. 334 Missile Group Brigade. ~ 16 Prithvi-II (250 km range) missile launchers ~ 10 Agni-I (1,000km range) missile launchers  On Strike Range Map (No Circle)
  Total Estimated Nuclear and Nuclear- Certified Forces~8 Agni-III launchers able to reach all Chinese mainland targets and~8 Agni-II launchers able to reach central Chinese targets (e.g. Xi’an, Chongqing). ~51 nuclear-certified aircraft with gravity bombs and~8 Agni-II launchers able to reach Tibet.

(The data presented in the article has been sourced from “The Strategic Postures of China and India” Frank O’Donnell & Alex Bollfrass)

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