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10 août 2014 7 10 /08 /août /2014 11:35
Is China Preparing MIRVed Ballistic Missiles?


August 08, 2014 By Zachary Keck -- thediplomat.com


China’s new DF-5A and DF-31A ICBM tests once again highlight its rising interest in MIRVed ICBMs.


China tested two of its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) last week, the Washington Times reported on Thursday.

According to the Washington Times report by Bill Gertz, who cited unnamed U.S. officials, China tested its Dong Feng 31A (DF-31A/CSS-10) and Dong Feng 5A (DF-5A/CSS-4) ICBMs last week.

The DF-5A is an upgraded version of the DF-5 ICBMs that China first tested in 1971. It is a three stage, liquid propellant silo-based missile with a range of 13,000 km and a throw weight of roughly 3,000 kg.

The DF-31A is China’s new road-mobile ICBM, based off the older DF-31 ICBM that China first tested in 1999. It is a three stage solid-propellant rocket with a range of roughly 11,200–12,000 km. This is the fourth known testing of the DF-31A ICBM. Its sea-based variant, the JL-2, will provide China with its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent when it is deployed on China’s Type 094 Jin-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) sometime this year.

Both the DF-5A and the DF-31A are capable of hitting the United States.

The Washington Times article did not specify exactly where the tests had occurred, but it did not that previous DF-31A tests have taken place at China’s Taiyuan Space Launch Center in Shanxi Province in northern China. However, it seems quite possible that the ICBM tests were part of the ongoing military drills that China announced late last month in the eastern parts of the country. As previously noted, these drills have caused significant delays to civilian air travel in eastern China. Earlier in the drills, China conducted what it claimed was an anti-ballistic missile test, but which the U.S. believes was really an anti-satellite test.

The earlier anti-missile/anti-satellite test, along with the new ICBM tests, underscore the growing attention China’s military is placing on its strategic and missile capabilities. Last week China inadvertently confirmed the existence of a new generation ICBM, the Dongfeng-41 (DF-41), which the U.S. Department of Defense has said may be capable of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs).

MIRV missiles can deliver multiple (usually nuclear) warheads to different targets, and were seen as widely destabilizing to the nuclear balance during the Cold War when the United States and Soviet Union began deploying them in the 1970s. The U.S. just phased out the last of its land-based MIRV ICBMs, although it continues to deploy MIRV submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Russia continues to field MIRV ICBMs.

Interestingly, the new reports about the DF-5A and DF-31A ICBM tests also highlight China’s potentially growing interest in acquiring a MIRV capability. According to the Federation of Atomic Scientists, “in November 1983 China inaugurated a DF-5 modification program to arm these ICBMs with MIRVed warheads.” Although technical difficulties prevented that program from reaching fruition, it is also believed that China later designated the DF-5A as its MIRV missile.

It has also been widely speculated, including by the U.S. Department of Defense, that the DF-31A may be MIRV capable. Most analyses suggest that the road-mobile ICBM may be capable of carrying up to 3 warheads. At this point, most believe that China is only deploying single warheads on its DF-5A and the DF-31A ICBMs, although some foreign analysts have claimed that it has already MIRVed some of its missile forces.

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5 juillet 2013 5 05 /07 /juillet /2013 11:35
Agni V Launch - photo DRDO

Agni V Launch - photo DRDO

July 05, 2013 by Shiv Aroor - Livefist


With Defence Minister AK Antony in China, the first by a Defence Minister in seven years, new facts about the direction India's nuclear missile programme is taking could send out an unprecedented message. In details revealed for the first time in an exclusive interview to me for Headlines Today, the new chief of the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) Dr Avinash Chander has revealed that one of his key mandates as the head of the country's military research complex, is to drastically reduce the time India will take for a potential nuclear counter-strike.
Unlike China, India has been typically timid about its strategic programmes. The DRDO chief's revelations make for a rare, bold message about the goings on within the country's most advanced weapons laboratories.
"In the second strike capability, the most important thing is how fast we can react. We are working on cannisterised systems that can launch from anywhere at anytime," said Dr Chander. "We are making much more agile, fast-reacting, stable missiles so response can be within minutes." India has a no first use policy for nuclear weapons, and its current response time for a retaliatory strike is classified. The DRDO chief's task is to whittle it down by a substantial degree to provide the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) with a literally 'anywhere-anytime' ability.
Dr Chander, formerly director with the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) in Hyderabad and renowned as the spearhead of the Agni family of missiles, was made chief of the DRDO last month.
India's current land-based nuclear weapon delivery systems include the 1,250-km range Agni-I, 2,000-km range Agni-II and 3,500-km range Agni-III. The DRDO chief has expressed confidence that 2 of India's two most ambitious nuclear missiles under test, the 4,000-km range Agni-IV and 6,000+ km range Agni-V, will both be inducted into the strategic arsenal within two years.
"We'll induct the Agni IV and V inducted in the next two years. It's the first time we will be inducting strategic missiles with such long ranges together. Agni III, IV and V are going to be the thrust areas. They give us the reach which we need, and are our highest priority now. Within two years we have to make sure that it happens," said Dr Chander.
Currently, the ASL is steeped in researching futuristic missile technologies. "In the future, the country will require much more precise warheads which are able to counter anti-ballistic missile defences. A manoeuvring warhead is going to be a key challenge. That's the next strategic capability which will become essential. That in turn will be followed by multiple warheads, with decoys, warheads, and other combination," said Dr Chander.
Asked about whether India needed an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), with ranges in excess of 10,000-km like China's DF-31 and other in-development weapons, Dr Chander said his missile laboratories could develop and deploy an ICBM in as little as three-five years. "As we see today, we don't find the need for ranges more than 5,000-6,000 km. The technology building blocks required to build a longer range missile already exist. We are in a position to activate any such system at very short notice," said Dr Chander.
Asked about how India's missile programme squared off against China's, he said, "Comparisons are odious, always difficult, and many times taken out of context. If you see at the capability level, our missiles, radars are comparable with the Chinese and other friends around us."
On India's ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, Dr Chander said, "Ballistic missile defence capabilities of our adversaries will also grow in the years to come. As far as our BMD is concerned, we are now poised for take-off. We've done a lot of tests, need to do perhaps a few more tests. With that, we will be ready to intercept missiles upto a range of 2,000km. That system we will be able to start deploying. At the same time, our effort to develop a system to intercept missiles with a range of 5,000km is underway. Testing of those missiles is one of the limitations we have by virtue of the geometry of the country. We are working on the development of new ranges, so we can fire for a longer distance."
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