China/U.S. Designation DF-31/CSS-10
Missile Variants DF-31A
Mobility and Role Road-Mobile/Intercontinental Range Ballistic Missile
Designer/Producer People’s Republic of China
Range 8,000km
Warhead Type and Weight Nuclear or Conventional/1,050-1,750kg
MIRV and Yield MIRV Capable/1mt
Guidance System/Accuracy Inertial/300m CEP
Stages/Propellant Multistage/Solid
IOC/Retirement 2000/Still in service
Status/Number of Units Operational/ N/A


The DF-31 is a three-stage, solid-fueled, intercontinental ballistic missile that can be fitted with either a single 1mt warhead or up to three to four MIRV units. Its range can reach up to 8,000km which will empower China with a longer-range striking capability.[i] With a payload of up to 1,750kg, a single nuclear warhead has a potential yield of 1mt whereas the MIRV units’ yields vary from 20, 90, or 150kt. The road-mobile DF-31 has an accuracy of 300m CEP however a silo-launched missile would have an approximate accuracy of 150m CEP.[ii] The DF-31 was deemed operational in 2000 however its modernized variant, the DF-31A, was introduced and adopted in 2007.[iii]

The DF-31A is an improved variant of the DF-31 which greatly increased both the range and accuracy of the ICBM. Like the DF-31, it is a solid-fueled, three-stage, missile that is capable of both TEL and silo-based deployment.[iv] With a projected range of 11,000km, the DF-31A has the potential to strike all areas of the U.S., Europe, and Russia.[v]

Still in development, the DF-31B is the latest variant of the DF-31 missile and is expected to be operational by 2020.[vi]

Strategic Implications

The Dong-Feng 31 significantly narrows the divide between U.S., Russian, and Chinese, ballistic missile technologies. Its MIRV capabilities can offer a counter to Western ballistic missile defenses in the United States as well as other adversarial states to China.[vii] The DF-31 will increase the chances of missile survival as well as the difficulty of removing China as a global threat. This technology also advances China as an international power which provides Beijing with strategic leverage over less developed nations in the region. The ramifications of the DF-31 become even more apparent when partnered with its sea-based variant, the JL-2.[viii]


[i] https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/df-31/

[ii] http://www.armyrecognition.com/china_chinese_army_missile_systems_vehicles/df-31_df-31a_css-9_df-31b_long-range_road-mobile_intercontinental_ballistic_missile_technical_data.html

[iii] http://thediplomat.com/2016/02/confirmed-china-is-upgrading-icbms-with-multiple-warheads/

[iv] http://www.deagel.com/Ballistic-Missiles/DF-31A_a000987002.aspx

[v] http://defence-blog.com/news/china-10000-km-range-nuclear-missile-df-31a-drills.html

[vi] http://www.military-today.com/missiles/df31a.htm

[vii] https://fas.org/nuke/guide/china/icbm/df-31.htm

[viii] http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/china/df-31.htm

Missile Threat and Proliferation


International Cooperation