China has improved accuracy of its missile force, US army finds

The DF-11 can employ both conventional and nuclear warheads.
The DF-11 can employ both conventional and nuclear warheads.PHOTO: MISSILETHREAT.CSIS.ORG

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - The Chinese military has improved the accuracy and range of its ballistic missile force, the world’s largest, according to a new US Army report.

The DF-11, the most widely deployed short-range ballistic missile of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, was originally designed to hit targets up to 300km away, but newer models have expanded ranges beyond 700km, according to an Aug 9 army publication titled Chinese Tactics released on Monday (Aug 23) by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. 

"Accuracy has also increased, reducing" the intended target point to only 30m, "giving theatre commanders a long-range precision strike capability", according to the army publication.

The DF-11 can employ both conventional and nuclear warheads.

The "solid-fuel rocket and mobile transporter-erector-launchers enable rapid launch and reload operations", it added.

The US Army is attempting to reshape its forces from their 20-year emphasis on counter-insurgency to focus on an Indo-Pacific presence geared towards countering China in coordination with the US Air Force and US Navy.

The new publication presents a menu of the longer-range and more accurate Chinese missiles that US forces and Taiwan would face in a conflict. 

In addition, the newer DF-15/16 missiles have ranges of 600km to 1,000km and "they employ advanced anti-ballistic missile countermeasures such as terminal manoeuvres and decoys", the army publication says.

"Early variants were not accurate enough for precision strikes", but newer models are much improved.

"These missiles can employ nuclear or conventional warheads, and have a significantly larger payload" than most short-range ballistic missiles.

The publication, which also covers many other Chinese military capabilities, is the latest to portray the military might of a nation which US leaders consider the prime threat driving US strategic planning and spending.