PLA’s DF-21 Missile Deployed to Changbai Mountains: Experts

January 20, 2015

Want China Times

China’s Dong-Feng 21 ballistic missile may have been deployed at the Changbai Mountains in the northeastern region of the country as a deterrent against Japan and Taiwan, reports the International Herald Leader, a newspaper under the auspices of the official news agency Xinhua.

Before the New Year, state broadcaster CCTV aired footage of a major People’s Liberation Army winter drill which revealed a missile transportation vehicle of the Second Artillery Corps, the PLA’s strategic missile division. Military analysts believe the vehicle was carrying the DF-21, a two-stage, solid-propellant, single-warhead medium-range ballistic missile developed by the China Changfeng Mechanics and Electronics Technology Academy.

Based on other publicly available information, analysts speculate that the DF-21’s launch position is now situated in the Changbai Mountains, along China’s border with North Korea.

Photos released publicly by the PLA reveal that the DF-21’s current missile launch position lies in a place that recently experienced significant snowfall. This is believed to match up with cold weather warning reports in northeast China between Dec. 25 and 27. The types of trees depicted in the photos are also said to be found predominantly in the Changbai range.

More importantly, military experts say the Changbai Mountains is the only place in China from which the DF-21 can cover all key targets in Japan. In the event of a maritime conflict with Japan, Chinese experts say the DF-21 will be able to effectively seal off entry and exit points in the Sea of Japan, allowing the PLA to make up for relative weakness in naval power.

The mountain range, which extends along the northeast Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning, provides an advantageous strategic position that can allow the PLA to dictate terms in the East China Sea. Launching the DF-21 from the Changbai Mountains, the PLA can control the La Perouse Strait — which divides the southern part of the Russian island of Sakhalin from the northern part of the Japanese island of Hokkaido — from the north, and the Tsushima Strait — which connects the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea — from the south.

Further, the Changbai Mountains also reportedly provides ample natural resources, advanced industrial development and convenient transport facilities, giving the region very strong military and economic potential.

The rationale behind deploying the DF-21 in the Changbai Mountains also extends to Taiwan. Taiwanese reports from last October said that the PLA has deployed the DF-21, dubbed by some as an “aircraft carrier killer,” in the southeastern and northeastern parts of China as a deterrent against US intervention in the event of a conflict across the Taiwan Strait.

As far back as 2010 Canada’s Kanwa Information Center estimated that the DF-21, China’s first anti-ship ballistic missile, has a range of about 1,800 kilometers and has the ability to cover the majority of Japan’s island military bases as well as the US naval base in Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost island group.

US intelligence estimates that China may have around 50-100 missiles in the DF-21 series in its arsenal. CIA reports indicate that the DF-21 series has a range between 1,450 km and 2,150 km, though there is speculation that the missile may have a maximum range of up to 3,000 km.

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