Military Aspects of a Study of the Implications of a Communist Chinese Nuclear Capability

Author/Editor: B.F. Jaeger and M. Weiner


Publisher/Sponsor: United States Air Force

Supplier: The RAND Corporation

Report Date: March 1963

Document Number: Memorandum RM-3418-PR

Classification: Confidential



Go to the full report. 




This Memorandum is one of a series of publications which support a RAND study of the implications of a Communist Chinese nuclear capability. It presents .data on three hypothetical. military conflicts which are developed and analyzed in the course of the study, The three conflicts were used to provide a rough assessment of the possible military consequences of China’s possession of a modest nuclear capability, and to give some indication of the magnitude of the risks that they might face in a military confrontation with the United States.

The first situation involves U.S. nuclear retaliation from an undamaged posture following Chinese aggression against Taiwan. For the conditions and forces postulated, it indicates that U.S. theater forces augmented by a wing of B-52’s on Guam and utilizing one SSB(N) with Polaris B missiles could virtually eliminate China’s offensive air and missile capability while incurring very small losses.

The second situation involves U.S. retaliation following a Chinese air and missile attack with nuclear weapons on U.S. and Allied bases in the Far East. For the conditions and forces postulated it indicates that the augmented theater forces which survive the Chinese attack would be capable of substantial destruction of Chinese offensive air and missile capability. However, the U.S. forces would be severely damaged and would be capable of executing only one strike.

The third situation involves Communist Chinese nonnuclear operations in the Taiwan Strait area. Under the conditions postulated it indicates that a campaign against Quemoy could involve high manpower and material losses for the Communist Chinese with only a marginal chance of success, and that a campaign against Taiwan would be extremely costly with a very remote chance of success.

The main conclusions of this study are (1) that Communist Chinese nuclear or high-level nonnuclear campaigns world involve very high risks on their part, and (2) that U.S. bases in the Far East are vulnerable to ballistic-missile and low-altitude air attack with a need for more advanced early-warning equipment and additional Hawk or Mauler SAM systems.


This report was released to the Nautilus Institute under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).