[edit on 2-9-2004 by chinatea]
DF-31 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
PLA designation: Dong Feng-31 (DF-31)
NATO code-name: CSS-9
CONTRACTOR: China Academy of Rocket Motors Technology (ARMT)
SERVICE STATUS: The deployment of the missile may have already begun, though more test fires might be needed before the missile becomes fully
The Dong Feng-31 (DF-31) represents a new generation of ICBM for the PLA 2nd Artillery. As with the JL-1/DF-21 combination, the DF-31 and JL-2 are
land-based and sea-based variants of the same missile. Development of the three-stage solid-fuel DF-25 began in 1978, but was later halted. In 1985
the programme was resumed and renamed as DF-31.
The DF-31 first fired in April 1992, however exploded shortly after launch due to faulty components in the booster assembly, killing 21 people and
injuring another 58. The second fire was also said to be a failure. The first successful fire test took place in 1995. The military parade celebrating
the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the PRC on the 1st of October 1999 saw the DF-31 show itself to the world, hauled by a 16-wheeled Hongyan
transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle through Tiananmen Square.
DF-31 ICBM system
Two live fires were conducted in November and December of 2000 as US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Henry Shelton visited Nanjing for PLA war
games. The shots were fired from the Wuzhai Space and Missile Centre and were monitored by US intelligence ships. The close proximity in timing of the
two tests came as a surprise to foreign observers, nonetheless the underlying political statement was clear. Another test came on the 23rd of November
2002, this time blasting off from Shandong Province and flew for 1,700 km to a designated target in the Xinjiang desert.
The DF-31 is a three-stage, solid fuel, 8,000~10,000 km range ICBM, which could reach targets in entire Europe, the west coast and several northern
Rocky Mountain states of America. Current load of the missile is a single 700 kg one-megaton yield thermonuclear warhead, although MIRV with lighter
yield warheads is an expected option.
As part of the new generation of missiles, the DF-31's characteristics include road mobility, advanced materials engineering for payload and booster,
improved solid-fuel propellant as well as endoatmospheric re-entry decoys, making it very difficult to counterattack at any stage of its operation,
from pre-flight mobile operations through to terminal flight phases.
DF-31 ICBM carried on a Hongyan TEL
So far the DF-31 has only been seen carried on a sixteen-wheel TEL derived from civilian truck for road mobility. The appearance of the TEL suggests
that the system only possesses very limited, if any, off-road deployment capability. China has been studying the Russian-made six-axis TEL which can
mobile in cross-country conditions, but has yet produced a capable TEL capable of carrying over 30-ton payload.
As well as being road mobile, the DF-31 might also be rail deployed. There are reports that suggest the limited deployment capability of the road
mobile variant, where specific road conditions are required, therefore the rail-deployed variant seems very credible.
Configuration: Three stage
Length: ~10 m
Diameter: ~2 m
Launch Weight: >20,000 kg
Propellant: Solid fuel
Guidance: Inertial (?)
Range: 8,000~10,000 km
Deployment: Silo or mobile
Re-entry Vehicle Mass: ~700 kg
Warhead: One single 1,000 kT, or up to three 50~100 kT multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV)
CEP: 400 to 500 m
Launch Preparation Time: ~15 min
[edit on 2-9-2004 by chinatea]