A significant emerging trend in the PLA’s strategic missile forces over the past two decades is the fast expansion of a conventional missile component. Over the past two decades, the number of conventionally-armed short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) in service with the PLA had quadrupled to over 1,200 (2014 figure). At the same time, earlier models are being gradually replaced by more advanced variants featuring improved range and accuracy in addition to more sophisticated payloads such as MaRV.

DF-16 (CSS-11)

The DF-16 (NATO designation: CSS-11) is a conventionally-armed, mobile-launched, two-stage, solid-fuel ballistic missile with a range of 800—1,000 km, enough to reach whole of Japan as well as U.S. military bases in Okinawa. The missile is fitted with an Inertial Navigation System (INS) coupled with GPS mid-course guidance, as well as a terminal guidance system to achieve a CEP of 5—10 m. The missile is carried on a five-axle Sanjiang transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle.

The existence of the missile was reported by Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems in September 2012, claiming that China was developing a new short- to medium-range ballistic missile designated DF-16 as a successor to the older DF-11 and DF-15. The 2015 edition of the U.S. DoD report to Congress on China’s military power noted the existance of the DF-16/CSS-11 for the first time, confirming its IOC status.

PLA designation.......Dong Feng-16 (DF-16)
NATO designation......CSS-11
Range.................800 to 1,000 km
Guidance..............Inertial + GPS + terminal radar
Warhead...............Single, conventional
Deployment............Road mobile

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DF-15 / DF-15B / DF-15C / M-9 (CSS-6)

The DF-15 (Export designation: M-9, NATO designation: CSS-6) is a conventionally-armed, solid-fuel, short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) system developed by Academy of Aerospace Solid Propulsion Technology (AASPT, or 4th Academy) of the China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation (CASC) consortium. Development of the DF-15 began in 1985 and the first test launch took place in June 1987. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, a range of test launches were conducted in the Gobi Desert in northwest China. The missile was first unveiled during the 1988 Beijing International Defence Exhibition. It is believed that a small number entered operational service with the PLA Second Artillery Corps as early as 1989.

The PLA conducted two DF-15 test launches near the Taiwan Strait in 1995 and 1996 respectively. The state-run Xinhua News Agency announced the test launches shortly before they took place, and warned foreign aeroplanes and ships to avoid entering the target zones. During the first test launch taking place from 21 to 23 July 1995, a total of six missiles were launched from an unknown location in Fujian Province. The second test launch took place in March 1996, with two target zones set in the public waters southwest and east of Taiwan respectively.

Although the missile was also given an export name M-9, it was never exported to any other country. The is mainly due to the restrictions of the he Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which forbids the export of delivery systems and related technology for those systems capable of carrying more than 500 kg payload over a range of 300 km or above. The 2009 US DoD Report to the Congress estimated that 350—400 missiles and 90—110 launchers were in operational deployment with the PLA.

The DF-15 uses an inertial guidance package, coupled to a faster on-board computer system to give a high accuracy. The early model has a circular error probable (CEP) of 300—600 m, but various improvements on the guidance system has increased the accuracy of the missile to CEP 150—500 m. This allows the missile to be used for a conventional precise-strike to destroy large fixed targets such as air defence missile sites and airports. Later variants of the missile have been incorporated with the global positioning system (GPS) and/or radar terminal guidance, improving its accuracy to CEP 35—50 m.

The DF-15 carries a 500 kg single warhead and has a maximum range of 600 km. The missile is carried onboard a TAS5450 or WS2400 8×8 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle to provide full road and cross-country mobility. In time of crisis the missile system could be quickly mobilised from bases to launch locations by railway. The TEL vehicle then carries the missile to the launch site with pre-calculated coordinate data.

The missile can carry a range of warhead types including high-explosive, high-explosive incendiary and armour-piercing cluster. Other warhead types under development include mine-laying, electromagnetic shockwave, and low-yield nuclear deep-penetration. With a terminal velocity of over Mach 6, the missile is difficult to intercept with any existing missile defence technology.

The improved DF-15B was first revealed during the National Day military parade in Beijing on 1 October 2009. The missile features a MaRV with four small stabilising fins in the mid-section for corrections at the final phase of the flight.

The DF-15C was reported to be a bunker buster toppled with a deep-penetration warhead. The missile was designed specifically to attack those hardened underground military facilities in Taiwan.




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DF-11A / M-11 (CSS-7)

The DF-11 (export name: M-11; NATO designation: CSS-7) is a road-mobile, single-stage, solid-fuel SRBM system developed and built by Sanjiang Space Group (Base 066) of the China Aerospace Science & Industry (CASIC) consortium at its missile production facilities in Hubei Province in central China. The DF-11 bear some resemblance to the Russian SS-1C Scud-B. Th mssile system is fully compliant with the requirements of the 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and was exported to Parkistan in the 1990s.

The DF-11 development began in the late 1970s as China’s first conventionally-armed ballistic missile. Development of the improved DF-11A began in 1993 under PLA funding. The first test launch was conducted successfully on 6 October 1997. Initial operational capability was achieved some time in 1999.

The missile was designed as a theatre weapon to fill the gap in firing range between artillery rocket systems (50—100 km range) and strategic ballistic missiles (over 600 km). The 2009 US DoD Report to the Congress estimated that by 2009 a total of 700—750 DF-11/CSS-7 missiles and 120—140 launchers had been deployed, mostly near the Taiwan Strait.

The basic variant DF-11 has a range of 280—350 km and delivers a single-warhead of 500 kg. The improved DF-11A has an extended range of over 500—700 km. As well as conventional high-explosive (HE) warhead, the missile may also be able to carry fuel-air explosive (FAE), sub-munitions, and possibly chemical agents.

The basic variant DF-11 uses an inertial guidance + terminal radar guidance package, giving a circular error probability (CEP) of 500—600 m. The improved DF-11A uses inertial/GPS guidance system with optical correlation terminal targeting, resulting in a greater accuracy of less than 200 m CEP. The missile has four large stabilising fins at the bottom as well as four small fins in the mid-section for corrections at the final phase of the flight.

The missile is launched from an 8×8 WS2400 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle, which was developed by Wanshan Special Vehicle Company, a subsidiary of Sanjiang Space Group, in the early 1980s based on the Russian MAZ543 TEL vehicle.

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