(NationalSecurity.news) The Chinese military took a significant step forward in the deployment of strategic weaponry with the test-launch of a new rail-mobile ICBM capable of delivering nuclear payloads to all parts of the United States.
As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the missile – the DF-41 – underwent a canister ejection test and was launched from a railcar platform, U.S. intelligence officials said.
Few additional details were available regarding the Dec. 5 test, which was monitored by U.S. intelligence. However, the WFB noted, rail-based missile development has been carried out by China in the past, at the Wuzhai missile test center, which is also known as the Taiyuan satellite launch center since 1982, declassified CIA documents note.
The launch center is located in the Shanxi province, in central China.
As the WFB reported further:
The test this month marks a significant milestone for Chinese strategic weapons developers and demonstrates that Beijing is moving ahead with building and deploying the DF-41 on difficult-to-locate rail cars, in addition to previously-known road-mobile launchers, the officials said.
Previous Internet disclosures of the DF-41 have shown it being carried on a wheeled, road-mobile launcher.
In recent days NationalSecurity.news reported that China test-launched a DF-41, which has a range of about 7,500 miles and has evolved into Beijing’s most lethal ICBM. U.S. intelligence officials believe the missile is capable of carrying up to 10 MIRVs – multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, or warheads.
Military experts say China’s basing of the missile on road- and rail-mobile platforms is designed to make preemptive attacks on nuclear systems more difficult. The WFB notes that the Pentagon’s Prompt Global Strike program, which would deliver conventional weapons capable of striking targets around the globe within minutes, is aimed at taking out such forces at the start of any great power conflict.
Beijing is believed to have about 300 nuclear warheads. The DF-41, with its 10-MIRV capacity, will greatly expand China’s nuclear inventory, analysts note.
The recent DF-41 test was the second this year and the fifth test of the DF-41 since 2012. U.S. intelligence agencies believe the final version of the missile will be capable of carrying and delivering between three and 10 warheads. The earlier test this year came on Aug. 6.
China is believed to have gotten the rail-mobile technology from Ukraine, where such systems were built using the SS-24 ICBM for the Soviet Union.
Russia is also considering a rail-based nuclear launch system, in response to the U.S. Prompt Global Strike program, the WFB noted.
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