Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

DF-4 [the "Chingyu" missile]

The two-stage DF-4 (CSS-3) limited-range ICBM was designed initially to hit the US base at Guam and later modified to increase its range to 4750 kms so as to be able to strike Moscow. The launcher is a DF-3 with an added upper stage designed to provide power for boosting a 2,200 kilogram 3-MT warhead over a range of 5,500-6,000 kilometers. The first tests of this system were conducted from Jianshui [Chingyu] in November 1970 and 1971 to an impact area 2,050 nautical miles away. Continued testing and possible deployment were reported over the succeeding years. The testing programs clearly indicated that China had the potential to deploy a missile capable of reaching European Russia, but only limited deployment occurred. In 1972 US intelligence estimated an IOC for this system as being expected in 1974 or 1975. Series production of the DF-1 and DF-2, along with development of the DF-5 might have stretched China's RDT&E capabilities to the limit, resulting in a low priority for deployment of what may have been a marginally effective missile.

Deployment actually began in 1975-76, but only four DF-4s were believed to be in place by 1984; and one report stated that these launchers were without warheads at the time. An estimated 30 DF-4s have been constructed for ballistic missile use. By 1995 between 10 to 16 were deployed, and by 1997 estimates of the deployed force ranged as high as 20 missiles.

China conducted a flight test of a DF-4 on 29 August 2002. The missile was monitored by U.S. intelligence as it was fired from the missile test facility in southern China to a remote impact area in the northwestern part of the country. As of mid-2002 China was believed to have about 20 DF-4s with a range of up to 4,340 miles.

Two launch configurations exist for the CSS-3: a rollout-to-launch site and an elevate-to-launch silo. Many of the DF-4s are stored in tunnels under high mountains, and are launched immediately outside the mouth of the tunnel. The missiles must be moved into the open and fueled prior to firing, an operational mode dubbed chu men fang pao (shooting a firecracker outside the front door), with the fueling operation apparently requiring about two hours.


Contractor Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology - CALT
Operator Second Artillery Corps
  • Da Qaidam
  • Delingha
  • Sundian
  • Tongdao
  • Xiao Qaidam
  • First Test 1970
    Firings as of 1972 2
    IOC 1974-79
    Range (km) 4,500 - 7,000
    Re-entry Vehicle Weight (kg) 2,000
    Yield 2-3 MT
    Propellant Storable
    Deployment Hard
    Configuration Two Stage
    Length [meters] 28
    Diameter [meters] 2.25
    Mass [kilograms] 80,000
    Guidance Inertial
    CEP (meters) 1,400 - 3,500
    Launch Preparation Time 60-120 minutes

    Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list


    privacy policy