China's DF31-AG missile enhances target range and accuracy: expert
Central News Agency
Hong Kong, July 24 (CNA) China recently reported on the most recent upgrade to its Dongfeng (East Wind, 東風) ballistic missile series, codenamed DF-31AG, which Hong Kong-based military analyst Leung Kwok-leung (梁國樑) believes has improved range and targeting precision.
A report published on Monday in the military news section of Sina.com, a Chinese online media network (portal), carries several photos of the DF-31AG missile, introducing it as an improved version of the DF-31A.
Leung told CNA that based on China's latest system of assigning numbers to missiles, the letter "A" represents nuclear warhead, "B" means regular warhead and "G" refers to an improved version.
As such, the DF-31 is the basic model, followed by the improved DF-31A, with expanded range and an added nuclear warhead, Leung said, observing that the designation DF-31AG indicates an upgraded DF-31A, also carrying a nuclear warhead.
The Sina report points out that based on Chinese ballistic missile taxonomy, the range of a medium missile is 1,000-3,000 kilometers, while an intermediate range has a range of 3,000-8,000 km and an intercontinental ballistic missile can fly more than 8,000 km.
The prototype of the DF-31 had a range of just 8,000 km, meaning it could only reach certain parts of the United States, making it a less than effective nuclear threat, the report said.
With the DF-31A, the range was increased to more than 11,000 km and accuracy improved, the report said, but there remained shortcomings, including a lack of mobility and inability to carry multiple warheads.
The latest upgrade, the DF-31AG, incorporates three new features, including an off-road vehicle chassis that improves missile mobility and a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) which enhances penetration capability.
The third feature is an unsupported random launching system that greatly improves randomness, mobility and launch concealment, thus improving missile system survivability, the report said.
(By Stanley Cheung and Elizabeth Hsu)
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