New Chinese ICBM
Passes Test Simulations -
Can Hit Most Of US
By Pamela Pun
China has successfully completed laboratory simulations of a test-launch of its latest multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile which can reach targets in most parts of the United States.
Mainland sources said computer simulations of launches of the solid-fuelled Dongfeng-41 ICBM have been completed and proved successful.
The three-stage DF-41, an improved model from the old type of single-head DF-5, can carry five to eight warheads including nuclear ones greatly increasing its striking power.
In addition to the improvement of carrying capacity, the DF-41 has much greater mobility since it uses solidified fuel.
With the same range of 12,000 kilometres as the DF-5, the DF-41 can reach Europe and many parts of the United States.
The Central Government has yet to decide when to conduct live test-firing of the latest ICBM model, which was not on the show during the grand parade in Beijing on 1 October marking the 50th anniversary of Communist rule.
The successful development of the strategic weapon will boost the country's military muscle and its nuclear deterrence.
Military and diplomatic analysts said the acquirement of technology to manufacture missiles with a range covering most parts of the American territory will force Washington to adjust its defence strategy and speed up the development of anti-missile defence systems.
However, it would not have significant impact on the global balance of power in the post Cold-War era.
Sources said the new missile could be deployed in five years if the central leadership decided to go ahead with the development program, using the DF-41 to replace the old model of DF-5.
Using liquid fuel, the DF-5 must be launched from a fixed position. It also takes 30-60 minutes to fuel and two hours before a missile could be ready for launch.
A solid state missile like the DF-41, on the other hand, takes only a few minutes to reach war readiness, according to the mainland's weaponry experts.
As the DF-41 carries several warheads,they are smaller in size and lighter in weight and, therefore, easier to manoevre for land transport.
Beijing showcased its truck-mounted solid state DF-31 ICBM in the 50th anniversary grand parade which attracted considerable attention from Western military experts.
With a range of 8,000 kilometres, the DF-31 can reach Hawaii and Alaska.
China announced it has successfully test-fired the DF-31 in August in northeastern China. With slight modification, the DF-31 could be launched from a submarine, according to military experts.
Political and military observers in the West have shown increasing concern over the mainland's latest developments of multi-warhead ICBMs such as the DF-31 and DF-41, which are difficult to intercept for current anti-missile defence systems.
China started developing technical missile weapons such as cruise missiles in the 1970s. Beijing felt the need to develop strategic weapons to bolster its military deterrence after the high-tech Gulf War in 1991.
Calls to speed up developing advanced weapons have been on the rise since the US-led Nato jets bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on 7 May during the alliance's air strike against Yugoslavia.
President Jiang Zemin, who is also commander-in-chief of the country's 2.5 million-man army, urged speeding-up of the modernisation of the armed forces to win regional wars under high-tech conditions.