China’s Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (DF-31)

The DF-31 (Dong Feng 31) is a solid-fueled ICBM which entered Chinese service in 2006. An upgraded variant, the DF-31A, possesses a range of up to 11,700 km and is fitted with a 1-3 megaton nuclear warhead. It is a land based variant of submarine launched JL-2. 

The DF-31AG (G for ‘gai’ – ‘modified’), meanwhile, is a modified version of the DF-31A. The primary difference between the DF-31AG and DF-31A is transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicle that transports and fires the missile. While the DF-31A’s TEL could only travel on paved roads, the DF-31AG’s TEL can travel over more rugged terrain. 

The ability to go off-road improves the survivability of the missile by creating a larger area of potential launching sites. A missile that is not dependent on roads for transport and launch is much more difficult to find and therefore more likely to survive long enough to launch a retaliatory strike.

DF-31AG ICBM was officially demonstrated for the first time on Oct 01, 2019 in Tiananmen Square, on the military parade marking the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the PRC. 

Range of various Chinese ICBM

Chinese nuclear arsenal is estimated to contain 60-70 ICBMs out of a total inventory of 290 nuclear warheads. Besides, the Russian R-36M (SS-18 Satan) is the world’s heaviest and longest-range ICBM with a range of 16,000km and a weight of 8.8t. 

The write up has been contributed by our Defence Expert Mark Frank, who can be further contacted at admin@strategiccognizance.com.

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