China to field more nuclear weapons that can target the United States, says report
by Gabriel Dominguez Jan 21, 2021, 09:24 AM
China’s missile force is expanding, with the number of nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) potentially…
China’s missile force is expanding, with the number of nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) potentially increasing to “well over 200” within the next five years, according to a report by the US Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC).
Published on 11 January 2021, NASIC’s ‘2020 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat’ report says that China, which “continues to have the most active and diverse ballistic missile development programme in the world”, has been adding the 11,000+ km-range, single warhead DF-31A (US Department of Defense designation CSS-10 Mod 2) and the 12,000+ km-range DF-5B (CSS-4 Mod 3) to the inventory of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF), with the silo-based DF-5B being China’s first ICBM with multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs).
Moreover, NASIC changed its designation for the DF-41 MIRV-capable, road-mobile ICBM from CSS-X-20 to CSS-20, indicating that it considers development of the weapon has been completed. The DF-41 was first displayed at a military parade held at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on 1 October 2019.
NASIC provided no range estimate for the three-stage, solid-fuelled missile but the DF-41 is believed to have a comparable range to the older liquid-fuelled DF-5B ICBM. The DF-41’s mobility, however, makes it less vulnerable to elimination in a first strike than the silo-based DF-5 missile.
NASIC has changed its designation for China’s DF-41 ICBM (seen here during the October 2019 military parade in Beijing) from CSS-X-20 to CSS-20, indicating that it considers development of the weapon has been completed. (Via CGTN video footage)