PLA boosts deterrence capability with new missile

BEIJING • China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force has improved its strategic deterrence capability, with the service of a new missile.

The DF-31AG, an enhanced version of the DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), is a new type of solid-fuel, road-mobile missile that can be launched from an eight-axle vehicle that also transports the missiles, according to an article published on Thursday by an online outlet run by PLA Daily, the military's flagship newspaper.

Compared with its predecessors, the DF-31 and DF-31A, the new missile features better mobility and survivability, the article said without giving further details. Before the DF-31AG, the DF-31A was the PLA's newest ICBM known to the public.

The DF-31AG was first viewed by the public at a field parade last Sunday at the PLA's Zhurihe Training Base in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. The parade was held to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA on Tuesday.

Footage of the DF-31AG in the parade shows it carried by an integrated missile vehicle known as a transporter erector launcher, and the bottom of the launch tube has been equipped with a buffer device. The DF-31A, meanwhile, is mounted on an older, two-part vehicle and has no buffer attached to its launch tube.

PLA Academy of Military Science senior researcher Du Wenlong said the new model is likely to have a longer range, stronger penetration capability and larger destructive capacity than the DF-31A.

The PLA Rocket Force now operates at least three types of ICBMs for its nuclear deterrence system - the DF-31A, DF-31AG and DF-5B.

Another ground-to-ground missile that emerged for the first time was the DF-16G medium-range ballistic missile. The upgraded variant of DF-16 has higher accuracy and an improved manoeuvrable terminal stage that can better infiltrate missile defence systems, said the PLA Daily article.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 06, 2017, with the headline 'PLA boosts deterrence capability with new missile'. Print Edition | Subscribe