China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force has demonstrated its ability to deploy its short-range, nuclear-capable Dong Feng-15B (DF-15B) and Dong Feng-16 (DF-16) ballistic missile systems in exercises carried out in early February, Chinese state-owned media has reported.
The China Military Online website showed pictures on 4 February of PLA Rocket Force personnel erecting a DF-15B during an exercise simulating a heavy rain environment at an undisclosed training base. The images also showed the soldiers installing fins onto the missiles.
Believed to have a range of up to 800 km, the DF-15B has sectored control fins at the rear and a separating and guided re-entry vehicle (RV). According to Jane's Weapons: Strategic, the biconic RV features its own terminal guidance system. Once released and in the atmosphere, its flight is controlled by four small fins located at the rear.
The released RV is thought to have a circular error probable (CEP) of 5 to 10 m.
Around the same time, the China Daily newspaper reported that the PLA had also released a video showing an exercise involving several DF-16s carried by transporter erector launchers.
"The participating units handled a number of scenarios, including chemical/biological contamination, countering satellite reconnaissance and electronic jamming. The crews practised multiple manoeuvres such as rapid loading, redeployment and launch sequence, though the video showed no missile actually being launched," said the newspaper, adding that the exercise was conducted around the Spring Festival holiday.
According to the report, two DF-16 variants appeared in the footage: one with an aerodynamic-shaped RV, which is considered the original DF-16, and a new variant featuring a manoeuvrable RV, which is akin to that used by the DF-15B.
The DF-16, which is reported to be powered by a large solid-propellant motor, is believed to be capable of carrying up to three multiple independently targeted RVs (MIRVs) armed with various warheads, according to Jane's Weapons: Strategic.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options: ihs.com/contact