BY: Bill Gertz
February 10, 2014
China’s military recently disclosed a new photo of its longest-range mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a key element of Beijing’s large-scale strategic nuclear buildup.
The photograph of the missile reportedly leaving a manufacturing plant in China was posted online Jan. 31 in what a military enthusiast website stated was the transfer of the missile from a factory to a military unit.
The photograph shows the mobile missile covered in blue tarp and escorted by security police from the factory.
The Chinese military frequently discloses such images online as part of efforts to highlight its nuclear forces, among the most secret elements of Beijing’s military forces.
According to the online posting by a user identified only as “witten,” the missile was described as the Second Artillery Corps’ Dong Feng-41 (DF-41) ICBM.
The bulletin board stated that the missile is considered China’s SS-27 ICBM, a reference to Russia’s road-mobile Topol-M missile.
The user stated that the 16-wheeled transporter erector launcher and missile was concealed by the tarp in order to conceal its “infrared defense capabilities.”
The online report also said the DF-41 is “lower to the ground and shorter” than the SS-27 and was adapted to transit on Chinese “mountain terrain, rail and road tunnels.”
According to the post, the lower ground profile allows the missile to “to move from tunnel to tunnel during the gap when satellites are out of range”—a reference to China’s 3,000 miles of underground nuclear tunnels and production facilities for nuclear forces.
The underground nuclear network was disclosed two years ago as part of a Georgetown University arms control project that labeled the system “the Great Underground Wall” of China’s nuclear facilities.
Disclosure of the missile photo came two weeks after the Washington Free Beacon was the first to report on Dec. 17 that China had conducted a second flight of the DF-41.