China continues to develop its armed forces, which naturally causes concern for third countries. As it became known a few days ago, Chinese specialists continue to test the latest DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile. At the same time, the new product is proposed to be used together with special mobile launchers, which significantly increase the mobility of the missile system.
The new tests of the DF-41 missile are reported by the American edition of The Washington Free Beacon in the article "China Flight Tests New Multiple-Warhead Missile". The author of the material, Bill Gertz, received data on such tests from unnamed sources in the US military department, and is now trying to assess the risks associated with the latest work of the Chinese military industry.
According to the author, last week (April 11-17), China conducted a new test launch of the latest DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, which differs from other similar products of Chinese design with an increased range. It is noted that the missile tests are taking place against the backdrop of growing tensions in relations between China and the United States. The disagreements between the two countries are related to different plans regarding activities in the South China Sea.
Unnamed Pentagon officials told B. Gertz that on Tuesday, April 12, China conducted a test launch of a DF-41 rocket based on a mobile wheeled chassis. The test rocket was equipped with two individually guided warheads. United States satellite reconnaissance systems and other detection devices detected and monitored the missile's launch.
Unfortunately, the sources of the American publication did not specify the location of the test launch. At the same time, it is known that the previous tests of the DF-41 missile were carried out at the Taiyuan test site in Shaanxi province (the so-called Wuzhai facility). So, on December 5 last year, a new ICBM was launched as part of a combat railway missile system. According to reports, in early December, a special car with a launcher was checked by a throw-in launch.
B. Gertz recalls the statements of the American command revealing the current plans of the Chinese military. On January 22 of this year, the head of the US Strategic Command, Admiral Cecil Haney, said that ongoing work on ICBMs is an important method of developing nuclear and conventional weapons. According to the information available to the American command, China is currently processing its ICBMs in order to equip them with several warheads.
The author of The Washington Free Beacon notes an interestingly chosen date for the test launch. The missile tests took place at the same time that one of the high-ranking Chinese generals arrived on a visit to the disputed islands of the South China Sea. In addition, the launch took place three days before the visit of US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to the USS Stannis aircraft carrier, which was also in the disputed islands. Pentagon officials believe that Chinese General Fan Changlong "timed" his trip to the arrival of the US Secretary of Defense in the region. B. Hertz recalls that Fan Changlong is the deputy head of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party.
The South China Sea has long become a place of confrontation between two large countries. The US military claims China is secretly building new military bases on the disputed islands of the South China Sea. At the same time, official Beijing accuses the United States of militarizing the sea and points to the active activity of American ships in the region.
According to foreign press reports, the Chinese industry is completing work on a new project, which could result in the early deployment of DF-41 ICBMs. Kanwa Asian Defense reported in March that a new ICBM project was nearing completion. Product testing is entering the final stage, and the deployment of new complexes should begin in the foreseeable future. It is assumed that DF-41 will be deployed in the area of Xinyang (Henan province) in central China. In the event of such a deployment of bases, new missiles will be able to fly to targets in the United States through the northern polar regions or across the Pacific Ocean.
The new Chinese-designed missile poses a significant threat to US strategic security. The DF-41 product differs from other Chinese ICBMs, such as the JL-2 for submarines, etc., in its larger size and, as a result, increased performance. American intelligence analysts believe that the DF-41 missile will be able to lift up to ten warheads and deliver them to a range of up to 7456 miles (about 12 thousand km). In this case, a missile launched from the eastern part of China can hit any target throughout the United States.
The DF-41 missile threat is becoming more and more real. Rick Fisher, an analyst specializing in the Chinese military, recalls that the seventh test launch of the new ICBM took place on April 12. This suggests that the tests of the product are nearing completion, and after their completion, the Chinese armed forces will begin to deploy new complexes.
R. Fischer also mentioned one of the latest reports on China's strategic projects. According to reports, the Chinese industry is currently working on maneuvering warheads, which in the future can become the new combat equipment of intercontinental missiles and increase their strike potential. It is known that a maneuvering combat unit is capable of changing the trajectory of movement, and this increases its ability to overcome defenses and seriously complicates interception.
Before the appearance of maneuvering warheads, China is implementing projects involving the use of multiple warheads. R. Fischer expects that in the foreseeable future China will be able to significantly increase the number of deployed warheads. The main method of such an increase in the strike power of the missile forces will be precisely the use of missiles capable of carrying several warheads. For example, there is fragmentary evidence of attempts to re-equip existing DF-5 missiles. In the basic version, they carry a monoblock warhead, but in the near future they can receive several warheads with the ability to individually target different targets.
Recent reports indicate that China is currently engaged in a full-scale modernization of its strategic nuclear forces, in which it is proposed to actively use various new technologies. It is planned to develop new delivery vehicles and warheads based on new developments, including hypersonic and maneuvering products. In addition, it is likely that it is planned to increase the potential of the troops through new methods of basing. R. Fischer recalls that it is known that there are two variants of the DF-41 complex: a railway one and on a special wheeled chassis. Other tasks will be solved through appropriate combat equipment for new modifications of existing missiles and newly developed products.
B. Hertz also cites the opinion of Mark Stokes, a military analyst who studies Chinese projects. According to the latter, the DF-41 missile may represent a further development of the DF-5B ICBM in service. Due to the use of some new components, the characteristics of the base rocket have been significantly increased.
If the project is in its final stages, then the mass production of DF-41 ICBMs can be deployed within the next five years. In addition, M. Stokes believes that the first unit to be deployed in the near future will receive at least six missile launchers.
Experts interviewed by the author of The Washington Free Beacon also spoke about the possible impact of the new Chinese project on the strategic situation in the world. For example, R. Fischer believes that the current policy of the Barack Obama administration, aimed at reducing US nuclear weapons, does not meet with a response in the form of similar actions on the part of third countries possessing similar weapons: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
In addition, an additional cause for concern, according to R. Fisher, is the alleged coordination of actions by China and Russia aimed at opposing the United States. In addition, there are additional risks in the form of the nuclear program of Iran and North Korea.
To repel a potential nuclear missile strike from other states, the US strategic nuclear forces need to deploy at least 1,000 warheads. In addition, according to R. Fisher, the naval forces and the army should again receive a certain amount of tactical nuclear weapons. The latter is proposed to be used to contain the DPRK and Iran.
At the end of his article, B. Gertz cites a few official data known about the DF-41 project and published by various structures. It is noted that representatives of the Pentagon declined to make official comments on this topic. Colonel Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Defense, did not comment on the progress of the new project. When asked about the planned deployment of DF-41 missiles, he replied that he did not have the necessary information about such plans. At the same time, at the end of December, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, commenting on the previous tests of the DF-41, noted that all research work is proceeding in accordance with the schedule.
The first official mention of the DF-41 ICBM project was published on August 1, 2014. The existence of this rocket was mentioned in one of the reports from the Shaanxi Provincial Environmental Monitoring Center. Some features of the project were mentioned, including the participants in its development. However, a few days after publication, the report was deleted. The document, which described the existence of the new missile, attracted the attention of foreign media, after which the Chinese leadership decided to close access to it.