The PLA Second Artillery Corps, China’s strategic missile force, conducted a second test flight of its DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile on Dec. 13, according to the US website Washington Free Beacon.
The test took place at the Wuzhai missile launch center in northern China’s Shanxi province and follows the first test in July last year. The missile is raising new concerns that Beijing is contemplating abandoning its longstanding nuclear strategy of no first use.
With a range of between 6,835 miles and 7,456 miles, the DF-41 ICBM is considered a serious threat to US national security. US observers believe the weapon will be capable of carrying multiple warheads and claim it could be used to carry out a surprise attack that could knock out an enemy’s arsenal and limit its counterstrike capabilities.
The Pentagon has yet to comment on the missile test, but a report from the US Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASCI) published in May described the development of the DF-41 without mentioning it by name. China has the most active and diverse ballistic missile development program in the world, the NASCI report said. “It is developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading missile systems, and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses.”
While stressing the dangers of this new missile to US national security, the report also said that the Second Artillery Corps is expanding both in size and in its use of missiles. Richard Fisher, a senior fellow from the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said reports on the DF-41 test coincided with news on Chinese military enthusiast websites that the Second Artillery Corps has also commissioned a new 18-wheel transporter erector launcher for the missile.
Larry Wortzel of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said that the DF-41 can be equipped with up to 10 nuclear warheads with a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle. In addition, Wortzel said that China can also outfit its missiles with “penetration aids” to defeat US missile defenses.
Full article: PLA conducts 2nd test flight of DF-41 long-range missile (Want China Times)