On August 6, China has tested its newest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with two guided simulated nuclear warheads, according to information obtained by The Washington Free Beacon.
The August 6 flight test was the fourth time a DF-41 (CSS-X-20) long-range missile has been tested in the last three years and allegedly confirmed that the ICBM is capable of carrying multiple warheads.
China’s first test of the DF-41’s multiple warhead (aka multiple, independently-targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs) capability allegedly took place in December 2014, according to The Washington Free Beacon. Previous tests occurred in July 2012 and December 2013 at the Wuzhai Missile and Space Testing facility located some 250 miles southwest of Beijing. The location of the August 2015 test site, however, remains unknown.
“China’s MIRV technology is based on illegally exported U.S. satellite technology transferred during the administration of President Bill Clinton. Lockheed Martin was fined $13 million in 2000 as part of the illicit exports that China diverted to its MIRV warhead program,” the Free Beacon reported back in December 2014.
Development of the missile reportedly started in 1986 but was abandoned in the early 2000s. According to unconfirmed media reports, the program (Project 41H) was only relaunched in 2009. Nevertheless, most details about the DF-41 program and the missile’s true capabilities remain cloaked in mystery.
“Few details on deployment plans technical characteristics are currently available. Once fully operational, the DF-41 is expected to be the PLA’s most sophisticated ICBM to date,” Mark Stokes, a former Pentagon analyst, told the Free Beacon.
U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that the DF-41 can carry up to ten 150-300 kiloton yield thermonuclear warheads per missile and that it is capable of targeting the entire continental United States. It is solid fueled, road mobile and has an estimated range of between 12,000 and 15,000 km (6,835 miles and 7,456 miles). The most recent U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report notes that the missile could be already deployed this year, however, a 2018-2020 time frame appears much more likely, according to independent experts…