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Looking At The DF-16
by James Dunnigan
September 29, 2012

In early September China finally released photos of its new DF-16 ballistic missile [PHOTO]. This is more than a year after Taiwanese intelligence revealed that the DF-16 existed and five months after commercial satellite images of the DF-16 were spotted. These satellite images confirmed that The DF-16 did indeed exist.

Last year the Taiwanese claimed that China had deployed a new ballistic missile, the DF (Dongfeng) 16 and that some of them were aimed at Taiwan. The DF-16 had never been mentioned publically before that. It appeared to be an upgrade of the DF-15, as the Taiwanese announcement only described the DF-16 as having a "longer range." The DF-16 is probably a replacement for the older DF-11.

Most of the 1,600 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan are DF-11 and DF-15 models. The DF-11 (also known as the M11) weighs 4.2 tons, has a range of 300 kilometers, and carries a .8 ton warhead. The DF-15 (M9) weighs 6.2 tons, has a range of 700 kilometers, and carries a half ton warhead. Both of these are solid fuel missiles, so the DF-16 probably would be as well. A "longer range" DF-15 would likely weigh over eight tons and have a range of 1,000 kilometers or more. Or something like that. Before last year there was no open discussion of a DF-16 missile but the Chinese were known to have been continuing work on the DF-11/DF-15 class missiles, particularly warhead design (as in penetration aids to defeat anti-missile systems).

The photos of the DF-16 show the missile used in a 10x10 wheeled TEL (Transporter-Erector-Launcher) similar to the one used for the new DF-21C MRBM (Medium Range Ballistic Missile). The DF-16 TEL uses sturdy storage containers that the missiles can be launched from.


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