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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

DF-5A / CSS-4 Mod 1

When the DF-5 was first tested in September 1971, it had a range of 10,000 to 12,000 kms which allowed it to threaten the western portions of the United States. Beginning in 1983 the Chinese inaugurated the improved DF-5A, with an increased of over 13,000 km and a more accurate guidance system. The DF-5A upgrade increased the throw-weight of the system from 3,000 kg to 3,200 kg.

After nearly 10 years of testing and improvement, In 1981, the Dongfeng-5 missile officially began to serve the Chinese Second Artillery. After two years of service with the Dongfeng-5 ballistic missile, China improved it. The improved Dongfeng-5A was replaced with a more precise guidance system. The maximum range has also reached 12,000 kilometers, and the strike range can basically cover the central and western regions of the United States. In 1986, the Dongfeng-5A successfully conducted a pilot-guided nuclear warhead test, which further enhanced China's strategic nuclear strike force. Therefore, the Dongfeng-5 series intercontinental The missile has also become the main strategic weapon for China to deter the United States.

As with the DF-4, initially the DF-5 was stored in a horizontal position 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. The initial deployment of a pair of DF-5s in silos in Central China was completed in 1981. That portion of the DF-5A force that is deployed in silos could be maintained in a ready-to-fire status. In order to enhance the survivability of these missiles, China has constructed a large number of decoy silos which consist of shallow holes excavations with headworks that resemble operational silos.

For many years almost all sources credited China as having only four DF-5s deployed in silos, including the authoritative 1992 treatement by John Wilson Lewis and Hua Di, which asserted that as of 1992 only four DF-5 missiles on alert. However, more recent estimates suggest that some 8-11 were deployed as of 1995, and that at least 13 missiles were deployed at the end of 1997. According to the National Air Intelligence Center, as of 1998 the deployed DF-5 force consisted of "fewer than 25" missiles. As of early 1999 the total deployed DF-5 force was generally estimated at about 20 missiles. By mid-2000 some sources suggested that the total force was as many as 24 deployed missiles ["Inside The Ring" By Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough Washington Times July 28, 2000].

Although it is widely reported that the 5-megaton nuclear warheads for the DF-5/CSS-4 nuclear missiles are not "mated" to the missiles, but rather stored nearby, some sources suggest that US intelligence does not have a high confidence understanding of this question ["Inside The Ring" By Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough Washington Times July 28, 2000]. Although it might be assumed that the DF-5 deployment complex would include a nuclear weapons storage area, it is not evident that technical intelligence could identify signatures to determine the precise whereabouts of such a small number of nuclear weapons.

In April 2001 it was reported that China had moved some its 24 DF-5 missiles. The movement of the ICBMs from missile fields in central China was reportedly detected by a US imagery intelligence satellite in early April 2001, although it was not clear why the missiles were being moved.

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Page last modified: 01-10-2019 18:08:44 ZULU