China gets its first mobile-launched ICBM
The DF-31B ballistic missile launcher. (Internet photo)
Beijing successfully carried out a launch test for the DF-31B, an intercontinental ballistic missile, from a mobile launcher. The US is on alert since the missile is difficult to detect and intercept and is able to hit targets across the Pacific Ocean, reports China's Global Times.
China may soon replace France as the world's third largest nuclear power behind the US and Russia as its nuclear attack capability increases, according to Russian experts.
US admiral Cecil D Haney expressed concerns over the DF-31B, which has a range of 11,200 kilometers, since it may change the attitude of the US toward China's nuclear capabilities. The solid fuel-powered missile can carry multiple warheads and give the country a second-strike capability, according to the Russian media.
The missile was launched from a four-door, sixteen-wheel mobile launcher that looks similar to its Russian counterpart. A former Russian official responsible for nuclear weapons research said China is nearing nuclear capabilities similar to the US and Russian nuclear triad — strategic bombers, ICBMs and ballistic missiles launched from submarines — a challenge to the dominance of the two countries in nuclear weaponry.
Details of the DF-31B have yet to be revealed but the Russian expert said its greatest advantage is its short launch time. It only takes five minutes for the missile to launch and enter its trajectory, making detection by US reconnaissance satellites difficult. The missile can also avoid interception since it flies in an S-shaped curve.
It is China's first intercontinental ballistic missile able to be launched from a mobile launcher. Such a combination is ideal for China since it can be deployed across a vast region, making it difficult to detect the location of its launch, said Viktor Yesin, former head of Russia's strategic missile force.
The US would not be able to detect the missile with all 21 reconnaissance satellites, said the report. The number of mobile-launch ballistic missiles in China could reach 140 this year and may exceed France's 240.