Sunday, November 22, 2009

China test-fired ICBM in October

Adding a new dangerous dimension to its growing arsenal of weapons, China has tested a long-range nuclear missile which will have the mobility to be moved around and fired upon a specially designed truck. All this retaining the ability to fire at targets located across continents. In military parlance, it is known as a mobile inter-continental ballistic missile or a mobile-ICBM.

It can fire at targets up to 11,000 km away, hence making large parts of north-western US and Canada within the Chinese missile reach. Also areas like eastern part of Europe will be within its reach. So far, only the US and Russia possess such equipment and the two countries had started working on it during the peak of cold war during the 1980s.

Indian intelligence agencies have informed the government that China tested its mobile-ICMB in the middle of October at its Wuzhai space centre in Shanghai province.The dangerous and long distance missile code named ‘Dongfeng 31-A’ was launched from specially designed mount on a truck, said sources while detailing about the secret test about which details are filtering in now.

Unlike India, China has only a government-run media and no independent media outfits, hence there have been no reports about the test in the Chinese newspapers or TV. The information about the test has come across through one of the intelligence agencies.So far the Chinese ability to fire a missile from a truck was restricted to smaller range of missiles, this mobile-ICMB is surely a dangerous weapon, said a senior official. Sources said ‘Dongfeng 31’ is the code name for the Chinese ICMB and the ‘A’ is to denote it mobile variant.

With this China can now not only move its warheads to locations it wants, it will be make it much easier for China to hit at enemy targets at distant places. A well-informed China watcher said the Chinese were facing a problem with their ICMB due to the poor quality of sealing between the solid fuel chamber and the booster casing, this seems to have been sorted out.

China, has possessed ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. The ability of firing the same from a truck is seen as achievement among strategic circles. Such a truck is called the transporter-erector-launcher, or TEL.
The TEL not only transports the missile, it erects it and also launches it from one single unit. The entire system is highly mobile.Strategically this means, in a crisis, China can disperse its ballistic missile forces across the country making it sure that some of these missiles would survive a pre-emptive strike by an enemy.


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