Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Around the turn of the century the US Department of Defense expected the DF-41 to be deployed by the PRC between 2005 and 2010. These years came and went with no DF-41, leading many to conclude the program had been abandoned. The Bill Gertz [what would we do without him?] reported on August 15, 2012 the first flight test of the DF-41 road-mobile ICBM occurred 24 July 2012.

The missile, once thought to be designated CSS-X-10, a designation now applied to the DF-31, was referenced briefly in the Pentagon’s 2011 annual report on the Chinese military [but omitted from the 2012 abbreviated report to Congress]. In addition to the DF-31 and DF-31A, “China may also be developing a new road-mobile ICBM, possibly capable of carrying a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV),” the Pentagon report said in 2011. And in 2013 DOD reported "China may also be developing a new road-mobile ICBM, possibly capable of carrying a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV)."

The strategic development of China is the focus of the world's leading powers, especially the United States. The lack of reliable information leads to a lot of rumors and different interpretations. It seems that China is not averse to adding fuel to the fire, from time to time by publishing the web for pictures of strategic missiles, the authenticity of which is controversial among experts. Three photos widely disseminated on the Internet are said to show a missile said to be China’s intercontinental ballistic missile DF-41. But on closer examination, the "transporter erector launcher" looks more like just a transporter, since it lacks the hydraulics needed to erect the cannister for launch, and the missile cannister looks suspiciously like a petroleum cracking tower.

Not the DF-41 Not the DF-41 Not the DF-41 Not the DF-41
The three-stage solid-fuel DF-41 is believed to be larger than the DF-31 missile, and has a range of up to 12,000 kilometers. While no information has been published concerning the configuration of this missile, the most straightforward path towards its development would be the addition of an enlarged third stage to the DF-31 ICBM. The larger third stage and longer range of the DF-41 wass made possible by the fact that, unlike the DF-31, the size of the DF-41 is not constrained by the requirement that it be fitted into a submarine launch tube. The DF-41 strategic weapons system was projected to have a mobile launch capability providing greatly improved survivability compared with previous Chinese intercontinental missiles. It was anticipated that the DF-41 will be delivered to the 2d Artillery around the year 2010.

No DF-41 / CSS-X-10 was expected to be displayed in the October 1st military parade of the PRC's 60th anniversary since it is still in protracted research and development to the disappointment of many. The DF-41 is believed to be a MIRV armed 10,000 – 12,000 kilometer range ICBM.

As of March 2001 the US Defense Intelligence Agency reported that China had several new strategic missile systems are under development, including two new road-mobile solid-propellant ICBMs. The 8,000 km DF-31 was successfully flight- tested in 1999 and 2000, and tests of the other longer-range mobile ICBM were anticipated within next several years.

In the absence of flight testing, the final operational configuration of this solid fueled missile remains uncertain, particularly with respect to the length of the third stage. However, this derivative of the DF-31 would be unlikely to have a throwweight in excess of 1000 kgs, and most estimates are in the range of 800 kg. Some estimates anticipate that, as with previous Chinese ICBMs, the DF-41 will carry only a single warhead [with a 0.35 - 1.0 MT yield]. In any event, depending on the weapon's yield, it seems unlikely that China would be able to mount more than a few lower-yield [50-100 KT ?] RVs on this ICBM. The American Minuteman III has 3 RVs and a throwweight of 1100 kgs at 12,900 kms, while the MX Peacekeeper carries 10 RVs and has a throwweight of 3950 kgs at 11,000 kms. Both American missiles carry warheads with yields of a few hundred kilotons.


ContractorAcademy of Rocket Motors Technology - ARMT
OperatorSecond Artillery Corps
ConfigurationThree Stage
Length [meters]~15?
Diameter [meters]2.0
Mass [kilograms]30,000??
First Flightxx
DeploymentSilo or mobile
Range (km)10,000 - 12,000
Warheads3 - 10 ?
Re-entry Vehicle Mass (kg)800-1,000 [?]
Warhead Yield1 @ 0.35 - 1.0 MT or
3-6 @ 50-100 KT
CEP (meters)700 - 800 ??
Launch Preparation Time3-5 minutes

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