Tenth DF-41 launch shows Beijing’s most lethal nuclear missile nears deployment
BY: Bill Gertz
June 5, 2018 5:00 am
China moved closer to deploying its newest and most lethal strategic weapon by conducting the 10th flight test of the DF-41 intercontinental-range missile last week.
Defense officials said the flight test of the multi-warhead DF-41 took place May 27 at the Taiyuan Space Launch Center in northern China and flew overland several thousand miles to an impact zone in the western Gobi Desert.
“We are aware of recent flight tests and we continue to monitor weapons development in China but we cannot provide information on specific tests,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told the Washington Free Beacon.
The flight test comes amid growing tensions between the United States and China over Beijing’s militarization of islands in the South China Sea and a looming trade war over the Trump administration’s aggressive posture toward unfair Chinese trade practices.
The flight test last week was the 10th known launch of the DF-41 that will be armed with up to 10 multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles or MIRV warheads.
The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system will be deployed on a road-mobile ICBM capable of targeting all of the United States. The mobility and ability to hide the weapon from intelligence detection poses serious challenges for U.S. strategic nuclear deterrence.
China’s state media have said the DF-41 will be capable of being armed with up to 10 warheads each with a yield of 150 kilotons, or single, massive, 5.5 megaton warhead. A kiloton is the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT; a megaton is equal to 1 million tons.
The addition of multiple warheads to all of China’s ICBMs represents a substantial increase in the number of warheads in the arsenal capable of ranging all of the United States.
China made no mention of the latest flight test in state controlled media.
However, Chinese authorities announced in an international notice to airmen the closure of airspace on May 27 along a flight path used past DF-41 tests, according to Henri Kenhmann, who runs the East Pendulum blog that monitors Chinese military developments.
The main Communist Party newspaper reported in December that the DF-41 is one of Beijing’s most potent new weapons. The People’s Daily said the DF-41 would be fielded early in 2018 and has a range of over 7,500 miles.
As in the past, the latest DF-41 flight test appeared timed to send a political message to the United States.
CCTV-warheadsThe most recent test took place days before a U.S. trade delegation headed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross visited China for talks.
China issued a statement Sunday warning that if the Trump administration goes ahead with plans to impose $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods that Beijing would break off past trade accords.
“If the United States introduces trade sanctions including tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void,” the official Xinhua news agency said.
Before last week, the most recent DF-41 flight test took place Nov. 6—two days before President Trump visited Beijing in what military analysts said was an intentional show of force prior to the presidential visit.
A report made public last year by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center said the DF-41 is a new road-mobile ICBM likely capable of carrying MIRV payloads.
“The number of warheads on Chinese ICBMs capable of threatening the United States is expected to grow to well over 100 in the next five years,” the report said, noting China’s Strategic Rocket Force “continues to have the most active and diverse ballistic missile development program in the world.”
“It is developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading missile systems, and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses,” the report said.
Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the 10th flight test is a significant milestone.
The test “means this mobile, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile is much closer to deployment, in both its road-mobile and rail-mobile versions,” Fisher said.
“As the missile already has been tested with up to 10 new small warheads, it can be expected that the DF-41 may also become an early carrier of China’s developing nuclear and non-nuclear maneuverable hypersonic glide vehicle warheads,” Fisher added.
Hypersonic glide vehicle warheads, when deployed in the next several years will provide China with a capability the United States has sought to develop through its non-nuclear rapid strike system known as Prompt Global Strike concept, he said.
Additionally, the DF-41 is expected to accelerate China’s development of a next-generation JL-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile for the new Type 096 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine that is expected to come on line in the early 2020s.
“China’s rapidly modernizing intercontinental nuclear and non-nuclear strike capabilities undermines the credibility of America’s extended nuclear deterrent upon which so many U.S. allies have come to depend,” Fisher said.
“Washington must rapidly redeploy theater tactical nuclear weapons or some U.S. allies could opt for their own nuclear deterrent in the face of China’s growing missile threats.”
Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Strategic Command, told a congressional hearing in March that the Chinese and Russian nuclear buildups are behind plans for the Untied States to build a new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile.
“The threat is from both Russia and China that drives the need for the sea-launched cruise missile,” Hyten said.
A senior Strategic Command official told the Free Beacon earlier this year that plans for new low-yield nuclear warheads were prompted by China’s large-scale deployment of medium- and intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and Russia’s treaty-violating ground-launched medium-range nuclear cruise missile.
To deal with the China threat, Strategic Command recommended deploying a new sea-launched missile, to be fired from either a surface warship or submarine.
The new smaller warheads, that can be developed from the existing primary nuclear warheads currently in the arsenal, were recommended in the Pentagon’s recent Nuclear Posture Review completed in February.
The review warned that China is engaged in a large-scale buildup that includes future deployment of the DF-41 that the Pentagon calls the CSS-X-20.
“China continues to increase the number, capabilities, and protection of its nuclear forces,” the report said, noting excessive secrecy surrounding the build up.
The Pentagon report mentioned the DF-41 as one of the major worries.
“China has developed a new road-mobile strategic intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a new multi-warhead version of its DF-5 silo-based ICBM, and its most advanced ballistic missile submarine armed with new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). It has also announced development of a new nuclear-capable strategic bomber, giving China a nuclear triad. China has also deployed a nuclear-capable precision guided DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of attacking land and naval targets.
A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not return an email seeking comment on the missile test.
China’s Defense Ministry has said in the past in response to an earlier DF-41 test that it was common for missile tests to be carried out for scientific research.
“Such tests are not aimed at any specific country and target,” the ministry said in response to an April 2017 DF-41 test.
Source: Washington Free Beacon “China Flight Tests New Multi-Warhead ICBM”
Note: This is Washington Free Beacon’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
January 18, 2018
China will soon start rolling out its next-generation rail technology across the country, and it is likely the futuristic trains won’t only have passengers on board.
Christened Fuxing, which means “renaissance” or “rejuvenation” in Mandarin, the bullet trains will be able to cruise at 400 kilometres per hour and will replace the slower Hexie (“harmony”) locomotives on the nation’s sprawling 22,000 km high-speed rail network.
The first two have been shuttling passengers between Beijing and Shanghai since their commercial debut in June 2017, cutting the commuting time from the capital to the coastal economic powerhouse to a little more than three hours.
But it is believed the trains have also been designed for a security role, as they will be capable of rapidly deploying troops, military materiel, weapons and other firepower if the need arises.
Now that almost all counties in the eastern and central provinces and major cities elsewhere have been connected to at least one high-speed rail line, it will be a simple matter to shift reinforcements and supplies, and it will be much quicker than on the choked road system.
Fuxing’s high-speed locomotives carry bigger railcars than those on the old Hexie trains, offering greater logistical flexibility for shipments of troops contingents and bulky equipment. Trains can be shielded more easily from enemy surveillance than trucks and, unlike airborne troop-carriers, are less vulnerable to inclement weather.
Trains have been used as military transporters for decades, but were first armored and modified to carry missiles, including nuclear warheads, by the Soviet Union.
In the 1980s the communist state devised a heavy purpose-built railcar to hold the RT-23 Molodets intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch vehicle; Western countries immediately realised the advantage of the railcars: they could be hidden anywhere there was a track.
“As it was impossible to precisely determine the place where they could fire a nuclear missile, they were dubbed as ‘death’ or ‘phantom’ trains,” the Washington-based National Interest reported in its February 2017 issue, citing Russian papers.
The RT-23 was followed by the Molodets BZhRK SS-24 Scalpel and by 2020 the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces are scheduled to take delivery of the latest version, the RS-27 or SS-X-31\32Zh Barguzin BZhRK. Like its predecessors, the RS-27 is a distinct class of launch vehicle for rail-mounted intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Moscow has signaled that it will continue to develop train-launched ICBMs and nukes and China appears to have also realised the benefits of using mobile launchpads instead of fixed silos.
The People’s Liberation Army is reported to have tested a rail-mounted ICBM for the first time in 2015, with a Chinese media article noting the missile train was “a countermove in response to America’s global missile defence system and C-PGS (prompt global strike) program” of hypersonic missiles.
Observers believe that China’s DF-41 solid-fuelled ICBM, which is now hauled around the country on road transports and is capable of carrying 10 nuclear warheads to a range of 15,000 km, is likely to be adapted to a rail platform in the near future.
It is probably no coincidence that Beijing continues to splurge hundreds of billions of dollars to extend heavy high-speed rail lines out to its vast western provinces, where many of the PLA’s ICBM and nuclear assets are located. A new line linking the southwestern city of Xian and Chengdu in Sichuan province was inaugurated last month.
Source: National Interest “China Could Merge High Speed Rail and Nuclear Missiles Into the Ultimate Weapon”
Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
Due to the horror and damages of US air raids during the Korean War, Kim’s development of nuclear weapons had wide support from North Korean people, who always have fear about their security as the US has always been hostile to North Korea and kept quite a few troops in South Korea.
Kim was very clear that without reform he could not feed Korean people so as to win popular support for his Kim Dynasty. I described in my previous post his lack of power to overcome conservatives’ resistance to his reform so that he could not carry out his agricultural reform to feed his people. However, he was shrewd enough to know that due to fear of US attack, North Korean people put national security before food supply so that he exploits their security concerns and concentrated resources on development of nuclear weapons and ICBMs. US stringent sanctions on North Korea help him put the blame of food shortage on US sanctions.
By so doing, he further upset China as China wants good relations with the US to avoid Thucydides Trap. China has reduced its aids to Kim to the minimum, but it had to provide North Korea with food and other necessities so that North Koreans would not flee into China in large number for their survival.
China has a long border with North Korea difficult to guard in winter when border rivers are frozen.
In fact, North Korea’s nuclear weapons are also a threat to China; therefore, Kim is now doing what China dislikes.
Anyway, the US plays into Kim’s hands in taking Kim seriously and putting pressure on Kim and even threatening Kim with military attack. It helps Kim to lie to North Korean people that they have to suffer hunger as their government has to use the country’s meager resources in developing nuclear weapons to ensure their security.
At the BRICS summit in Xiamen early September 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that further sanctions were “useless and ineffective”. Putin said that the North Koreans will “eat grass, but they won’t abandon their [nuclear] program unless they feel secure.” It showed Putin’s wisdom.
The US is obsessed with military solution. That is perhaps what a world hegemon is used to. Its failures in wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have not made it realize its inability in resolving problems by military means. There is very simple diplomatic solution to the crisis. Conclude a peace treaty with North Korea and China and withdraw all US troops from South Korea. North Korea simply dare not attack South Korea while China will not allow North Korea to start a war as it wants peace and stability around it for it to grow strong enough to resist US bully. Moreover, China has lots of economic interests in South Korea.
Maintaining the survival of Kim Dynasty is Kim Jong-un’s first priority. If he starts a war, his Kim Dynasty will immediately collapse. His nuclear weapons can only deter others’ attack but if he is the first to attack others, his nuclear weapons will be entirely destroyed and his poorly equipped army is no match to South Korean and US troops that dominate the air and sea. Moreover, China has already warned Kim that China will not help him if he starts a war.
Therefore, the US shall look down on Kim instead of regarding Kim’s nuclear weapons as a major threat. If so Kim will be in trouble as after all he has to feed his people with food instead of nuclear bombs and ICBMs.
With security ensured by nuclear warheads and ICBMs, Kim has to develop North Korean economy to feed his people. As he is shrewd, he will try to negotiate for a resolution of the nuclear crises in order to get as much benefit as possible. He is lucky that current US politicians are not shrewd.
Article by Chan Kai Yee.
In my previous post, there is description of China’s new DF-31AG mobile ICBMs showcased in China’s military parade at Zhurihe training center on July 30 and provides photo of the ICBMs in the parade. Now in its report “US within reach: China shows off new and improved advanced missile system” SCMP provides a better photo and more detailed description of the ICBM as it is showcased in China’s Military Museum.
It says that DF-31AG’s range is 11,000 km the same of DF-31A, enough to cover the entire continental United States.
However, unlike DF-31A whose carrier is limited to hard surfaced roads, DF-31AG is based on an eight axle launch vehicle that can go off-road as it adopts the technology used in intermediate-range missiles such as the DF-26 and long-range DF-41 that enable them to need no prepared launch site as their carriers can stop at any time to fire a nuclear warhead. This has greatly improved DF-31AG’s survivability.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2103880/china-gives-glimpse-advanced-missile-and-launch-system
On July 11, I reblogged US top think tank Jamestown Foundation’s July-6 article “Nuclear Bomber Could Boost PLAAF Strategic Role, Create Credible Triad” which reflects US military’s ignorance of the diametrical difference between US and Chinese military.
The writer of the article Michael S. Chase analyses Chinese air force from US perspective so that he believes that China will develop a nuclear triad like US one.
No, the US has nuclear triad because of the competition between air force, navy and army, each of which wants a share in nuclear capabilities. As a result, the US has to divide its resources among all of them resulting in lack of funds in spite of its huge military budget. Its ICBMs lack funds to upgrade, stealth strategic bombers cannot attack China or Russia as they are not stealth enough in the eyes of state-of-art radar or fast enough to avoid being shot down by potential enemy’s stealth fighter jets and advanced air defense missiles so that it has to develop very expensive B-21 bombers.
It seems that only US SLBMs are powerful enough but the strategic nuclear submarines are very expensive and need frequent overhaul.
In centralized China, the various forces have to provide their information about the strength and cost effectiveness of their suggested nuclear force to be decided by the commander-in-chief which force is the strongest in terms of not only capabilities but also cost effectiveness.
Now China’s ICBMs are most powerful, survivable and cost effective why shall China have a triad nuclear force to dilute its limited financial, material and technological resources?
To be specific, China’s 5,000 km tunnels ensure the best survivability (see my post yesterday “US Ignorance of China’s Much Better Second-Strike Capabilities”), much better than strategic nuclear bomber that need vulnerable airfields to take off and land and SLBMs carried by nuclear submarines with constant threat of potential enemy’s fast growing anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.
China’s land-based ICBMs can carry much heavier warheads than nuclear bombs and SLBMs so that it can carry more decoys and hypersonic warheads to avoid interception. They are the most powerful and cost the least to deploy. China needs no triad.
Certainly if the navy or air force is able to provide some new capabilities more powerful and cost effective, China has to switch its focus on the new capabilities, but never dilute its resources among competing military officers.
China is developing long-range bombers, but the weapon strategic goal is to deal with other’s powerful navy to ensure that China’s trade lifelines will not be cut by enemy navy.
China is developing super nuclear submarines, but they may be carriers of integrated unmanned underwater and air vehicles capable to attack US homeland. As such drones first sail underwater, it is hard to detect the submarine that launches it. When they leave water and fly very low near their targets there is very little time to detect and intercept them. They will be the best conventional and even nuclear deterrence. If China has such submarines armed with such drones to attack US homeland, the US will never dare to attack Chinese homeland.
The following are China’s three stages of active defense:
First, obtain the capabilities to defend China’s homeland. China’s J-20s ensure China’s air supremacy. Together with lots of other weapons China is entirely capable to prevent Chinese homeland from enemy attack.
Second, to have long-range aerospace bombers to annihilate enemy navy. That will be much better and cost effective than developing a navy with lots of aircraft carriers.
Third, to obtain the capabilities to attack US homeland. That will be conventional deterrence to prevent enemy conventional attack.
Beware of that! China’s long-range bombers and super nuclear submarines are not developed for nuclear triad but to annihilate entire US aircraft carrier battle groups and attack US homeland.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Jamestown Foundation’s articles, full text of which have been reblogged by him on July 11 and 24.
On July 24 I reblogged Jamestown Foundation’s article “China’s Nuclear Submarine Force” by Renny Babiarz, an AllSource analyst of China’s nuclear weapons.
The article shows serious US ignorance of China’s nuclear submarine capabilities. I wonder whether the ignorance has been caused by US inability to monitor Chinese publication or US arrogance in regarding itself always the best while other have always been copying the US or even less the Soviet Union.
Mr. Babiarz seems to rely only on what US intelligence has found even without the commonsense in jumping to his conclusion.
His article reminded me of what US Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert told Congress during a House defense appropriations subcommittee hearing in May 2013. At that occasion, he said that the Chinese navy is “not there yet” in terms of undersea power despite deploying a current force of 55 submarines, both diesel and nuclear powered.
True US had not detected the secret submarine operations in the oceans, but that only meant US inability to discover them. With the least commonsense, one certainly cannot believe that China had spent billions of dollars to build a submarine fleet of 55 including nuclear ones without second strike capabilities. Can Chinese leaders be so stupid?
My post on November 6, 2013 titled “China’s Nuclear Submarines Able to Ambush Near the US for Sudden Second Strike” provided information about Chinese strategic nuclear submarine’s second-strike capabilities based on huanqiu.com’s report in Chinese titled “In an emergency, order from above to nuclear submarine contained only 12 characters” on the same day. The report said that Chinese submarines cruise to sea areas far away quite a few times.
Mr. Babiarz, however, like Adm. Jonathan Greenert, believes Chinese nuclear submarines cannot go to the Ocean to conduct a second strike due to US strong ASW capabilities. China has to deploy its strategic nuclear submarines in the South China Sea to conduct second strike far away from continental United States.
He says as China has difficulties to send its submarines across the first island chain, China may adopt a “bastion” strategy first adopted by the Soviet Union to keep its strategic nuclear submarines within the South China Sea and thus maintain a credible nuclear counterstrike.
Soviet Union adopted that strategy as its nuclear submarines could not go near the US due to US ASW capabilities. However, before China obtained the ability to build nuclear submarines as advanced as US ones, China was already able to send its strategic nuclear submarines into the Pacific Ocean. With better submarines, China certainly has no difficulties to send them out.
What about attach nuclear submarines? China is building a blue sea navy, for which attack nuclear submarines are indispensable. A blue sea navy with its attack nuclear submarines confined in the South China Sea! What an idea!
Moreover, Mr. Babiarz simply lacks an overall understanding of China’s second strike capabilities. He believes that like the US China will develop have a triad nuclear force including land-based ICBMs, strategic nuclear submarines with SLBMs and strategic bombers with nuclear bombs.
China, in fact, needs no triad nuclear force. Its mobile ICBMs hidden in its 5,000-km tunnels are quite enough. Previously, China’s mobile ICBMs need roads for traveling to their launch sites. That makes them easy to detect and destroy as US satellites may keep constant watch on the roads leading to the tunnels. Now, China has mobile DC-31AG that can travel and launch anywhere without the need of any road. That will enable China to send out its DC-31AGs from any concealed entrances leading to forest or small piece of land surrounded by hills and mountains. The carrier trucks of such ICBMs are much cheaper than the carrier submarines of SLBMs. Why shall China launch its strategic ballistic missiles from very expensive submarines instead of land-based mobile ICBMs that cost much less and can carry much heavier loads? Compared with such land-based ICBMs deployed in existing tunnels, deployment of SLBMs in the South China Sea with only a little shorter distance to hit the US is utterly stupid.
Does Mr. Babiartz have commonsense?
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Jamestown Foundation’s article, full text of which can be viewed at https://jamestown.org/program/chinas-nuclear-submarine-force/.
(In this July 11 story, adds wording in paragraph 5 to show that Cui said Chinese imports from North Korea dropped in April and May.)
By David Brunnstrom
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China’s ambassador to the United States has said reports of trade growth between his country and North Korea, in spite of international efforts to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile programs, give “a distorted picture.”
Last week U.S. President Donald Trump denounced China’s trade with North Korea, saying it had grown almost 40 percent in the first quarter, and cast doubt on whether Beijing was helping to counter the threat from North Korea.
Data released in April showed China’s trade with North Korea grew 37.4 percent year on year in the first quarter, in spite of a ban on coal imports China announced in February.
“This is a distorted picture,” China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said in a speech to a Washington think tank on Monday.
Cui said bilateral trade declined in 2015 and 2016, and Chinese imports from North Korea dropped by 41 percent in April and 32 percent in May as a result of the coal import ban.
At the same time, Cui stressed that U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea did not constitute an embargo. “Normal trade … is not banned by these sanctions,” he said.
The Chinese embassy released a copy of Cui’s speech, originally delivered in an off-the-record setting, on Tuesday.
Cui said China backed further U.N. action against North Korea for violations of U.N. resolutions such as nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
He did not though make clear whether China believed North Korea’s latest missile test last week, which the United States described as a first ICBM test, was of that type of missile.
Diplomats say the United States is aiming for a vote within weeks to strengthen U.N. sanctions on North Korea over the test, but Russia has objected to a Security Council condemnation of the launch as a U.S.-drafted statement labeled it an ICBM.
Cui said sanctions were necessary, but could not solve the North Korean problem alone. He repeated a call for Washington to back a Chinese “suspension for suspension” proposal under which North Korea would freeze weapons testing in return for suspension of U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
Washington says the exercises are needed to maintain defenses against North Korea and U.S. officials say Beijing could face U.S. economic and trade pressure unless it does more to rein in North Korea.
Washington is expected to press the issue when senior U.S. and Chinese officials meet on July 19 to discuss bilateral economic issues.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by James Dalgleish
Source: Reuters “China envoy says North Korea trade growth picture ‘distorted’”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.