China on 3 August 2014 unveiled its next generation Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Dongfeng – 41 (DF-41). The missile with an operation range varying between 12000 km to 15000 km is amongst the world’s longest range missiles.
DF-41 with its long range has similar abilities to the US rocket Minuteman, which has a range of 13000 km or Russian RS-24M Yars.
The DF-41 missile is a nuclear solid fuelled road mobile intercontinental ballistic missile and the weapons are meant for deterrence. Further it is speculated that the DF-41 missiles will be able to carry three nuclear warheads.
DF-41 design has dramatically improved accuracy to the point where even the smallest point targets can be successfully attacked. It is believed that with proper master of satellite launching and recovery technologies, one can send warheads to any place around the globe.
DF-41 will be able to hit a target in the US within 20-25 minutes and is capable of ascending over 1000 kilometres into space, twice as far as International Space Station circulating the Earth. This makes intercepting the DF-41 ICBM in the air more challenging
China’s no first use policy for nuclear weapons suggests that development of the new missiles is aimed at maintaining military balance to protect national security, not to seek hegemony.
About Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)
ICBM’s are land based ballistic missiles with a minimum range of 5500 km designed for nuclear weapon delivery, with most designs supporting Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicles(MIRVs) allowing a single missile to carry several warheads each of which can strike a different target.
Only the United States, Russia, and China have land-based missiles of this range. The first ICBMs were deployed by the Soviet Union in 1958; the United States followed the next year and China some 20 years later.
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