Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles of China, France, Israel, and UK


Why do China, France and Israel maintain ICBMs of ranges more than 10,000 kms? Why not, say, 5000 kms?

On the other hand, why doesn't the UK have ICBMs?


Posted 2017-02-18T12:16:58.957


5mumble mumble Freud mumble mumble – user4012 – 2017-02-18T12:28:49.140

@user4012, haven't got you. – None – 2017-02-18T13:09:31.310

1For the concepts of mutually assured destruction and the employment of Nuclear Weapons as a deterrent, it would take a very well tailored question to avoid being "to broad" for the SE format. This question does not achieve that. – Drunk Cynic – 2017-02-18T15:18:12.613

This question has some many possible answers, you need to delimit more.. – nelruk – 2017-02-18T17:27:28.347


@anonymous is what 4012 is referring to.

– Andrew Grimm – 2017-02-18T23:24:03.507

1France doesn't anymore; it has only SLBMs and bombers. – Martin Schröder – 2017-02-18T23:41:39.317

1For those saying that this is Too Broad, it would help if you'd suggest how it could be narrowed. From four countries to just one? What? If it can't fit in a comment, then maybe that should be the answer: this is too complicated to be described as is done here. – Brythan – 2017-02-19T04:25:48.620



  • China

    This one is obvious. China has a difficult relationship with not one, but two three nuclear armed countries, two of which have far-away territories: USSR/Russia (with whom they had military conflict around Amur river); USA (with whom they had military conflict in Korea); and less-importantly, India.

    Of those 3 countries, USA definitely requires an ICBM, and I suspect parts of Russia/USSR in the East as well.

  • France

    First of all, the theoretical need: France during cold war faced a threat from Russia. That's 2-6 thousand miles. That's lower than IRBM's range, and requires an ICBM.

    Second, in practice, France has no IRBMs anymore, and never had ICBMs, relying on SLBMs:

    France now only deploys submarine-launched ballistic missiles, with all land based IRBMs decommissioned in September 1996. The French Air Force and French Navy retain aircraft-carried nuclear-tipped cruise missiles (SCALP-EG) to fulfill the pre-strategic role (tactical-sized weapons used as "ultimate warning" before launching an all-out strategic strike).

    M45 SLBM (progressively retired); M51 SLBM (three variants : M51.1 from 2010; M51.2 from 2015; M51.3 projected from 2025 onwards);

    Inactive: S2 IRBM; S3 IRBM; M4 SLBM

  • Israel

    Jerico III entered service in 2011, after Pakistan went nuclear. Let's also not forget that - despite the irony that Jericho II predecessor was presumed to be a joint development with Shah Iran, Iran turned into a bitter existential enemy with a nuclear weapons program after 1979.

    Distance from Israel to Pakistan 3,292 km = 2,046 miles. That well exceeds the range of previous generation Jericho II IRBM which was under 1500km - which isn't enough to reach Pakistan (3292 km), or even most parts of Iran (1789 km).


Posted 2017-02-18T12:16:58.957

Reputation: 84 347


The UK has submarine-launched Trident II missiles that have a listed range of about 7,500 miles (and speculation that its even higher). Considering that the submarines could be more or less anywhere it is effectively an ICBM. I don't know why the UK doesn't have any land-launched ICBMs though.

As for why do countries have ICBMs? For the same reason countries do all their nuclear missile activities: the threat. In the cold war the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) arose. It basically said that you can't nuke me because Ill nuke you back and we'll both die. Well I can't nuke you back if I can't reach you, so ICBMs were born. In addition to the countries you listed the other two major players who have ICBMs are the US and Russia.

Now who do these missiles get pointed at? Well, anyone the missile owner wants really. Flight plans can be modified. Realistically you end up with an east-vs-west. Exact details of ICMBs are obviously classified, but China surely has some pointed at the US, Europe, and maybe even Russia. France probably points to the Asian sphere, as does Israel (though Israel probably also points to Iran and some other middle east enemies).

David says Reinstate Monica

Posted 2017-02-18T12:16:58.957

Reputation: 10 193

Trident is not British. It is made in USA. – None – 2017-02-18T17:06:40.473

@anonymous But is used by the British. The USA makes lots of weapons and sells them to other nations. There was even a big story recently of a British Trident Missile test that went awry:

– David says Reinstate Monica – 2017-02-18T17:08:19.953

My question was, "why do they have range more than 10000km?". – None – 2017-02-18T17:11:14.690

Antipodes are about 20,000km apart. A 10,000km range only allows the weapon to strike about half the globe. The weapons have a >10,000km range so they can strike a larger area. – acpilot – 2017-02-18T18:38:56.383

@DavidGrinberg The nuclear warheads to Britain's Trident system are made in the UK, as are the submarines which launch them. It is just the bit in the middle that is American. – WS2 – 2017-02-18T20:35:44.260

2@anonymous I suppose the simple answer is "because other countries do". – WS2 – 2017-02-18T20:36:33.823