PLA says it can launch nuclear missiles from anywhere on mainland

PLA claims it can launch nuclear missiles from anywhere on mainland, and calls the development an historic leap forward

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2012, 3:31am


China's nuclear missiles can be launched quickly and accurately from anywhere on the mainland, a development described as being "far more mobile than imagined".

The People's Liberation Army's Second Artillery Corps said yesterday it had made a "strategic transformation" in its weapons capability, and called it an historic leap forward.

The news follows foreign reports last week that the corps had test-fired a new, road-mobile, third-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) known as the Dongfeng-41 (DF-41) late last month. With an operational range of up to 14,000 kilometres and the ability to carry multiple nuclear warheads, it could reportedly threaten every American city.

The PLA Daily said several brigades with the Second Artillery Corps had, this summer, successfully conducted numerous firing tests around deserts in the remote northwest, mountains and rivers in the northeast and jungles in southern areas.

"One of the key messages… is telling the US that the PLA's missiles are far more mobile than they had imagined before," said Antony Wong Dong, chairman of the Macau-based International Military Association.

He said the article was important for military watchers, especially given that it was published following a stepping up of defence co-operation between the United States and Japan, including the staging of island assault drills in Guam and close co-operation on the development of a US-led missile shield.

He added that the PLA Daily's report could also be seen as a response to the foreign reports about the testing of the third-generation ICBM.

Andrei Chang, the editor of the Canadian-based Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly, said: "If the mobility of its missiles has been upgraded, the PLA can hide them almost anywhere before launching them… Its counter-attack ability would have been significantly enhanced."

However, according to a report issued by the US Department of Defence about the PLA's latest military and security developments, the introduction of more mobile systems creates new command and control challenges. It said land-based mobile missiles may face problems including limited communication capacity and a lack of experience in controlling road-mobile launching systems in wartime.