China Flight Tests Multi-Warhead Missile

New DF-41 long-range missile program advances

China conducted a flight test of a new multi-warhead ballistic missile capable of reaching targets throughout the United States, Pentagon officials said.

The test of the new DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, took place Dec. 4.

The latest flight test demonstrated the use of two multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicles. The missile launch and dummy warheads were tracked by satellites to an impact range in western China.

It was the second flight test this year of the new missile and the fifth since 2012. U.S. intelligence assessments suggest that the missile will be capable of carrying between three and 10 warheads. The two most recent missile flight tests took place Aug. 6, also with two dummy warheads, and on Dec. 13, 2014.

The DF-41 is a road-mobile ICBM with a range of up to 7,456 miles. It is viewed by the Pentagon as China’s most significant new missile that has been in development since the early 2000s.

Mark Stokes, a former Pentagon official specializing in Chinese military affairs now at the Project 2049 Institute, said that the DF-41 missile program appears to be in the advanced stage of research and development.

“A reasonable speculation is that the system adapts a modified variant of the post-boost vehicle used on the DF-5B ICBM onto a new large diameter solid rocket motor,” said Stokes. “Assuming final design certification, the missile system could enter the Second Artillery’s operational inventory within the next five years.”

Rick Fisher, an expert on the Chinese military, said the test of two warheads indicates that Beijing may be seeking to mask the full warhead load of the new missile.

“It appears that China is pursuing a modest test schedule and the use of a low number of reentry vehicles may indicate a desire to conceal the full capability of the DF-41,” he said.

Based on the robust testing schedule for the DF-41, China is expected to deploy the missile in the next two years, Fisher said.

The Pentagon’s latest annual report on China’s military states that current DF-31 and DF-31A missiles can reach “most locations within the continental United States.”

Full article: China Flight Tests Multi-Warhead Missile (Washington Free Beacon)

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