Monday, 28 March 2011

China deploys DF-16 ballistic missile, claims Taiwan


National Security Bureau Director-General, Tsai Der-sheng, announced on 16 March that China has begun deploying a new pattern of ballistic missiles against Taiwan

The announcement came during a question-and-answer session following a presentation on the country's intelligence affairs and his bureau's operations before the Foreign and National Defense Committee of the Legislative Yuan.

The designation he quoted for the missile was Dong Feng 16 (DF-16) and described this as "a new addition to the People's Liberation Army [PLA] arsenal." He said that it posed a greater threat to Taiwan "given its extended range and more powerful payload." Some DF-16 missiles were being deployed to replace older systems, he said, but others were being added to the number of ballistic missiles arrayed against Taiwan.

Tsai gave few details of the DF-16, whose existence had not previously been reported. He confirmed that this was a new missile and not an upgraded model of the earlier DF-15 (CSS-6). According to reports in the local press, he said that the DF-16 has a range of between 800 km and 1,000 km but declined to say whether it used multiple-warhead technology.
The faster re-entry of a longer-range missile would greatly reduce the effectiveness of PAC-3 missile interceptors acquired from the US, analysts said.

A new longer-range ballistic missile allegedly deployed by China and the introduction of multiple warhead capabilities could render obsolete Taiwan’s most advanced missile interceptors, analysts said yesterday.
Another, Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington, said chances the DF-16 is the “real deal” were high, adding that the new system would likely incorporate advances in solid rocket fuel, guidance and warhead design. He admitted this was the first time he had seen references to the DF-16 designation.

Alarmingly, the faster re-entry of a longer-range ballistic missile such as the DF-16 would greatly reduce the effectiveness of Taiwan’s PAC-3 missile interceptors that were acquired at great cost from the US and which are still in the process of being deployed.

The longer the range of a ballistic missile, the higher it must climb to reach its target and the higher it climbs, the more time it takes for it to fall to the ground, giving gravity more time to accelerate the descent of the warhead at a rate of about 9.8m per second squared.

“All the PAC-3s are not yet in the field, but when they are, they can potentially be defeated by the faster 1,000km DF-16,” Fisher said.
Ballistic missiles with a range such as that attributed to the DF-16 could be deployed at the Second Artillery’s 52 Base in Anhui Province and target Taiwan as well as US bases in the region, such as Okinawa and Guam.

According to a study by the Project 2049 Institute, 52 Base oversees five short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) brigades and as many as three medium-range ballistic missile brigades. It remains unclear whether 52 Base is being equipped with a new brigade for the DF-16 or whether they would replace older SRBMs.