DF-ZF (formerly WU-14)
WU-14 Dong Feng-21D (DF–21D) /
CSS-5 Mod 5
Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM)
China is fielding a limited but growing number of conventionally armed, medium-range ballistic missiles, including the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). The DF-21D is based on a variant of the DF-21 (CSS-5) medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and gives the PLA the capability to attack large ships, including aircraft carriers, in the western Pacific Ocean. The DF-21D has a range exceeding 1,500 km and is armed with a maneuverable warhead.
New Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) systems include the WU-14 DF-21D “Carrier Killer” long range ballistic missile which has the capability to disrupt and/or deny US forward airbases and aircraft carrier capabilities. The Dong Feng-21D (DF–21D) antiship ballistic missile (ASBM) warhead dives towards its target at speeds of up to Mach 10, equivalent to over 12,000 km per hour. The DF–21D, which has a range exceeding 810-900 nm, provides Beijing with the ability to threaten large surface ships, such as US Navy aircraft carriers, throughout the Western Pacific. China is fielding additional DF–21D missiles and may be developing a longer-range variant.
An increase in the number of stealth UCAVs with reduced electronic size (reduced radar cross-section) is likely, possibly to cue long-range, land-based missiles such as the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile.
The 2004 publication of the PLA Second Artillery book, Science of Second Artillery Campaigns, described the ASBM as an “assassin’s mace” against aircraft carriers. The DF-1D is anticipated to cover a range of 2,000 kilometers and operate at a speed of Mach 10. The threat is also capable of maneuvering both during the midcourse and terminal flight phases for the purposes of guidance, target acquisition, and countermeasures. A 2006 unclassified assessment by ONI stated that “China is equipping theater ballistic missiles with maneuvering reentry vehicles (MaRVs) with radar or IR [infrared] seekers to provide the accuracy necessary to attack a ship at sea.”
China's DF-21D ASBM threatens US and allied surface warships in the Western Pacific. While the Missile Defense Agency has exo-atmospheric targets in development, no program currently exists for an endo-atmospheric target. The endo-atmospheric ASBM target is the Navy’s responsibility, but it is not currently budgeted. The Missile Defense Agency estimates the non-recurring expense to develop the exo-atmospheric target was $30 million with each target costing an additional $30 million; the endo-atmospheric target will be more expensive to produce according to missile defense analysts. Numerous Navy acquisition programs will require an ASBM surrogate in the coming years, although a limited number of targets (3-5) may be sufficient to validate analytical models.
A September 2009 report by Mark Stokes on China’s ASBM program estimated that:
- The initial phase of the program was intended to have a rudimentary 1,500 to 2,000 kilometer range ASBM capability by the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan in 2010.
- A second phase would seek to extend these capabilities out to a range of 3,000 kilometers and enhance aerodynamic maneuvering capabilities by the conclusion of the 12th Five-Year Plan in 2015.
- A third phase would focus on extending conventional precision strike capability out to 8,000 kilometers (intercontinental) before the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan in 2020.
- A final phase would involve global precision strike capability by the conclusion of the 14th Five- Year Plan in 2025.
The Chinese army is researching a new type of conventional missile that is set to be weaponized and entered into active service within five years, military sources revealed to Global Times in February 2011. China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), the nation's largest missile weaponry manufacturer, is set "to complete research, production and delivery of this new generation of missile by 2015," the China NewsService reported.
The new missile would be part of a network forming a solid defense system allowing for total coverage in both defense and attack, and capable of dealing with various threats from land, sea, air, space as well as cybernetic attacks, according to the report. The report, however, did not provide any further details of the new missile.
A military source close to the development, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to the Global Times that "The subject under development is a medium- and long-range conventional missile with a traveling distance of as far as 4,000 kilometers." "The research is going smoothly, and the missile will be produced and ready for service in five years," he said, noting that the project would also entail a three-year evaluation period. "It extends the range of China's missiles and will therefore greatly enhance the national defense capabilities," the source said.
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