China plans ‘Doomsday trains’ that could transport nuclear missiles around the country and even carry out launches which are hard to detect
PUBLISHED: 10:32 EDT, 29 March 2022 | UPDATED: 10:32 EDT, 29 March 2022
China could use high-speed ‘doomsday trains’ to transport and even launch nuclear missiles, a new report suggested.
In a government-funded study published yesterday, engineers looked at the logistics of moving Beijing’s elite DF-41 nuclear-capable missiles onto the rail network.
The mega-missiles weigh 80 tonnes each and can carry nuclear warheads up to 9,300 miles from the launchpad.
DF-41 is said to boast the longest range of any nuclear-capable ballistic missile in the world
Beijing commissioned a new study into the logistics of carrying its elite weapons on trains=
China is said to have tested DF-41s from trains in 2015, but these reports remain unconfirmed.
The elite weapons, first revealed in 2019, are said to be the longest-range nuclear missiles on the planet.
Carrying them on trains would improve ‘concealment’, the engineers said – and, if necessary, make launches more efficient.
As well as a quick and well-protected means of transport for China’s missiles, the report continued, the shockwaves caused by a launch would be better absorbed by high-speed rail infrastructure.
Researchers wrote in the Journal of Southwest Jiaotong University: ‘Compared with heavy-haul railways, high-speed railways operate faster and more smoothly.
‘This means that on high-speed rails, the mobility, safety and concealment of military vehicles would be greater.’
The group is led by civil engineering professor Yin Zihong, who is head of the Chinese government’s national research project, according to the South China Morning Post.
In less than two decades, China has built the world’s largest high-speed rail network
Maglev trains have top speeds of 372mph – while missile-carrying locomotives can go 217mph
In less than twenty years, China has built by far the world’s largest high-speed rail network – overtaking runners-up Spain and third-placed Japan.
These are ‘favourable conditions’ for the so-called doomsday trains, Yin and his colleagues added.
The high-speed trains capable of carrying nuclear missiles have a top speed of 217mph, the report said.
And although they’re unlikely to be able to carry missiles, Maglev trains capable of 372mph top speeds would be another asset in wartime.
Yet though innovative, China’s latest proposal doesn’t come from nowhere.
The Soviet Union experimented with nuclear weapons-carrying trains during the Cold War.
Twelve nuclear trains were stationed in the Kostroma, Perm and Krasnoyarsk regions, each carrying three missiles.
They came into service in 1987, just a few years before the collapse of the USSR, and were dubbed ‘ghost trains.’
Russia’s doomsday trains were finally disposed of between 2003 and 2005 – and, despite retesting in 2017, are not expected to return any time soon.
WHAT ARE BEIJING’S ELITE DF-41 MISSILES CAPABLE OF?
The nuclear-capable ballistic missile DF-41, or Dongfeng-41, is said to be capable of ranging up to 9,300 miles – putting the entirety of America within its reach.
They are also said to be able to carry up to 10 nuclear warheads which can be independently manoeuvred, meaning they can strike 10 targets simultaneously.
In order to evade defence systems, DF-41s also carry decoys and can hit the United States within 30 minutes of launch, limiting the amount of time defence systems have to respond.
Chinese military analyst Xi Yazhou said in 2019 that DF-41s would actually ensure the safety of the American people because it could prevent Washington from ‘running risks’ and disagreeing with Beijing.
‘The stronger the deterrence is, the less likely imperialists would run risks,’ the expert gushed in an op-ed published on Sina.
Although the DF-41 has been hailed for its reported capability of carrying 10 nuclear warheads simultaneously, in order to strike the entirety of the United States it would need to be equipped with less warheads to reduce its weight, said the commentator.
‘Therefore, DF-41 should normally carry three to four W88 warheads with a yield of around 500 kilotons or one single warhead with a yield of one million ton,’ he claimed.
He added: ‘One DF-41 could hit and destroy mega cities such as New York without a problem.’
The author then showed an image demonstrating how four warheads could hit the US eastern coast, destroying the Big Apple.
DF-41 made its public debut in Beijing on October 1, 2019 during a military parade in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China.
The mighty weapon, which took 10 years to develop, is ‘the pillar of Beijing’s strategic nuclear power’, said state broadcaster CCTV.
DF, the short form of Dongfeng, means ‘east wind’ in Chinese. It’s the name given to a series of missiles used by China’s People’s Liberation Army.