April 25, 2014:
The Chinese are experimenting with ballistic missile launch crews composed entirely of women. This is part of a program to recruit qualified (usually for technical jobs) women when men cannot be found. Ballistic Missile launch crews have to handle a lot of technical stuff and attention to detail (which women tend to be better at) is critical. Numbers have not been released but pictures have been published showing multiple female launch crews for mobile DF-21 missiles. These missiles are carried and launched in TELs (transporter erector launcher vehicles).
Currently about eight percent of Chinese military personnel are female, compared to fifteen percent in the U.S. and about ten percent in most Western countries. Women have performed well in technical jobs and about twelve percent of the crews on American warships are now female. China has been adding women to warship crews and has apparently been successful with that.
The Second Artillery Corps controls Chinese ballistic and long range cruise missiles. The corps is spread over most of China, has about 100,000 personnel and is organized into six “Missile Divisions” which have between them over 30 missile brigades. The most common ballistic missile is the DF-21 and the ten DF-21 brigades each have up to six missile battalions (with two mobile launchers each), two maintenance and repair battalions, a site management battalion, a signal battalion and an electronic countermeasures (ECM) battalion. The basic DF-21 is a 15 ton, two stage, solid fuel missile that is 10.7 meters (35 feet) long and 140cm (4.6 feet) in diameter. Range varies (from 1,700-3,000 kilometers) depending on model. The Second Artillery Corps also controls most of China’s nuclear weapons, although many of the smaller ballistic missiles also have non-nuclear warheads available.