BEIJING (China Daily/Asia News Network) - The People's Liberation Army will soon have one of the world's mightiest weapons - the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile - military experts close to the PLA have said.
Yang Chengjun, a missile expert with knowledge of the country's ballistic missile programs, recently told China Central Television that the DF-41's development has entered its final stage, and the formidable weapon is likely to be delivered to the PLA Rocket Force in the first few months of 2018.
Based on the missile's tests so far, development has been proceeding well, he said. All of its test launches so far were successful.
The DF-41 is a fourth-generation ballistic missile, having good reliability, mobility, precision, strike range and rapid-launch capability, observers say.
The missile "should be capable of being deployed and launched on rugged landforms and able to resist electronic-warfare attacks. It must be able to carry multiple warheads to hit targets anywhere on the globe," Yang told the broadcaster.
"Judging from available information, its overall capability is similar to that of the United States' LGM-30G Minuteman III and Russia's RT-2PM2 Topol-M. Some of its technologies are better than those used by the US and Russian models."
Widely considered one of the PLA's deadliest and most camouflaged pieces of hardware, the DF-41 has been the topic of speculation by military enthusiasts and media reports for years but its existence has never been officially confirmed by the military.
"The DF-41 can cover any corner on the earth. Anyone who dares to launch a nuclear strike against us will face effective retaliation," Yang said.
Xu Guangyu, a retired major general of the PLA and current strategy researcher in Beijing, previously described the missile as having a total weight of more than 60 metric tonnes, and capable of delivering up to 10 warheads totalling 1.6 tonnes. He said it would have an operational range of 12,000 to 14,000km.
The missile was designed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, part of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a major defence contractor, according to unconfirmed information.
Western media reported that the DF-41 has undergone at least eight flight tests since the first one in July 2012.
Neither the PLA Rocket Force nor the academy could be reached for comment.
According to PLA Daily, the Rocket Force has at least 10 types of missiles in active service, including the DF-31AG intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile and the CJ-10A ground-launched cruise missile.