US may quadruple interceptors once China's DF-41 operational: media

2012-11-15 07:50:52 GMT2012-11-15 15:50:52(Beijing Time)  SINA English

By Yu Runze, Sina English

According to a recent report released by India’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, China had recently test fired the mobile, MIRV capable DF-41 missile which is reported to have a range of 14,000 km.

Analysts predicted that once the MIRV (10 warhead) capable DF-41 becomes operational, US would quadruple the number of interceptors.

The report said that this missile adds to the existing ICBM inventory of the Second Artillery, which already operates the older DF-5A and the more mobile DF-31, DF-31A.

Among the existing three variants the DF-31 with a range of 7200 to 8000 km can reach Alaska with a single warhead. The other two have the range to deliver a single warhead to any part of the US mainland.

It estimated that China possess 30 to 40 ICBMs that have the range to reach the US mainland. In the event of a US first strike, the surviving missiles when launched could be intercepted by the US missile defense systems thus degrading China’s retaliatory capability.

Nevertheless, the US Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) technology has not fully matured and various technical analyses of the US BMD systems tell us that it will be ineffective against saturation attacks and those that come with countermeasures and Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs).

It is well known that China has the technology to develop and deploy MIRVs and countermeasures to penetrate the U.S. densely knitted defense. In light of this, many analysts believe that China will continue to maintain a minimum deterrence policy and a smaller force structure while improving only the survivability and effectiveness of its delivery mechanisms.

On the other hand, considering the improving US missiles defenses, it is possible that, in future, China will be forced to go for a vertical increase in its nuclear force. The recent testing of the DF-41 is an indication of the Chinese efforts towards this end.

But to further explore this possibility it is essential to study the present US missile defense efforts and the future progress in US missile defense technology and the possible options for China to counteract the moves from the U.S.

Editor: Yu Runze
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