Dongfeng-21 (DF-21) mid-range ground-to-surface ballistic missile, China’s second-generation medium-range ground-to-surface strategic missile developed on the basis of the Julang-1 submarine missile. Testing was successful on May 20, 1985, and finalized in 1989.
Dongfeng-21 uses a two-stage solid fuel rocket engine, land base launching strategic missile. It can carry a 600 kg thermo-nuclear warhead with a power of 300,000 tons of TNT.
Code-named DF-21D, it is China’s second-generation medium-range ground-to-surface strategic missile. This type of missile is an improved version of the Dongfeng-21 missile. It uses a two-stage solid fuel rocket engine and is launched on the road with a maximum range of 2,700 kilometers. It is also an anti-ship ballistic missile that can attack ships at sea, including aircraft carriers.
According to overseas media articles, China’s new Dongfeng-21D missile can hit mobile aircraft carriers and will pose a substantial threat to US aircraft carriers in the next decade or so.
It is also said that the Dongfeng-21D missile can be launched from land and can accurately penetrate defensive nets 1,500 kilometers away to hit the most advanced aircraft carriers. In this way, the emergence of the Dongfeng-21D missile can make China’s role in the Pacific balance of power change drastically, and it can also prevent US warships from freely entering and leaving China’s coastal waters.
In theory, if the missile is upgraded to the nuclear level, the nuclear bomb will sink the aircraft carrier, but the Dongfeng-21D with conventional equipment can also accurately hit a mobile aircraft carrier with strong defense capabilities.
DF-21 was originally developed as a strategic weapon, and later variants were designed for nuclear and conventional missions. It is believed to be capable of carrying high-explosive ammunition and bullets and a nuclear warhead of 300 kt. The latest DF-21D is said to be the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). DF-21 has also developed into a space-capable anti-satellite / anti-missile weapon carrier.
Although the transmitter itself is movable to reduce loopholes, the actual launching device needs a support vehicle that can cover an area of 300 × 300 meters, making it difficult to move quickly and easier to detect. In addition, the launcher cannot be driven off-road, and a solid ground is required when launching to prevent explosion and debris damage due to hard launches, and the launcher’s launch position is limited to roads and prefabricated launch pads
DF-21 / A / C (CSS-5 Mod-1 / 2/3)
The basic DF-21 has a range of 1,770+ km, a payload of 600 kg (1,300 lb), a 500 kt nuclear warhead, and an estimated circular error probability (CEP) of 300 to 400 m; Did not enter operational services. DF-21A was put into use in 1996, and its accuracy has been improved. The estimated CEP is 100 ~ 300 m. This version is reported to have a similar range of 1,770+ km and 2150 km (1,340 miles).
The DF-21C was launched in 2006 and is a terminal guidance version. Its maximum range is believed to be approximately 1,700 kilometers (1,100 miles) with an estimated accuracy of 50 to 10 m. This missile is the first dual-function version and can be equipped with a nuclear or conventional warhead. DF-21C was deployed in central and western China in 2010.
DF-21D (CSS-5 Mod-4) anti-vessel ballistic missile
This is an anti-vessel ballistic missile with a maximum range of more than 1,450 kilometers (900 miles; 780 nautical miles). As more drones UAVs and satellites are added, the guidance system is still evolving.
China has developed and reached the initial operational capability (IOC) of conventional armed DF-21-based hypersonic land-based anti-vessel ballistic missiles. This is the first ASBM and weapon system capable of targeting mobile aircraft carrier strike groups with long-range land-based mobile launchers. The DF-21D is believed to employ a Maneuver Reentry Vehicle (MaRV) with a terminal guidance system.
It may have been tested in 2005-2006 and launched the Jianbing-5 / YaoGan-1 and Jianbing-6 / YaoGan-2 satellites, which provide target information from radar and visual imaging, respectively. These upgrades have increased China’s ability to prevent US aircraft carriers from sailing in the Taiwan Strait. Some have also suggested that China could develop the DF-21D with multiple reentry vehicles.
The emergence of the DF-21D has led some analysts to claim that “carrier killer” missiles have made the United States aircraft carriers striking group no longer threatening, because they are too vulnerable to this new weapons. However, military leaders of the US Navy and Air Force do not consider excluding them completely as “game changers”. First of all, the missile may not be able to destroy its target by itself, because the warhead is thought to be just enough to cause a “mission kill” and prevent the aircraft carrier from performing its ultimate function. Secondly, there is the problem of finding a target. This argument has been responded by the latest Jilin-3 Ultra High Resolution Satellite which is able to capture 65cm (19 in.) objects from thousand kilometers high.
The DF-21D has an estimated range of 1,035 to 1,726 miles (899 to 1,500 nmi; 1,666 to 2,778 km), so an aircraft carrier battle group must be identified by other means before launch. Over-the-horizon radars cannot determine their exact location and must be used in conjunction with Chinese reconnaissance satellites; reconnaissance aircraft and submarines can also look for them, but they are vulnerable to carrier defense.
Finally, although the DF-21D has radar and optical sensors for tracking, it has not been tested on ship targets moving at sea at a speed of 55 km / h (30 kn; 34 mph), let alone the use of clutter and Countermeasures. The missile’s “kill chain” requires processing and constantly updating the data of the position of the carrier-based aircraft, preparing for launch, programming information, and then launching. This is a chain involved in the concept of “air and sea battle” of the US military. Some US analysts believe the DF-21D will not fly faster than Mach 5.
The DF-21D reentry vehicle appears to be similar to the Pershing II missile RV of the US retired in 1988. Pershing II’s RV weighted 1,400 pounds (640 kilograms) and is equipped with four control fins to perform a 25 G re-entry into the atmosphere, pull up, travel at Mach 8 and then slide towards the target 30 nautical miles (35 miles; 56 Kilometers), into the final dive.
Army training manuals on missiles are available from the Internet, and the literature describes the missile extensively; the DF-21 has comparable range and payload. Although the DF-21D’s destructive power is fully explained based on speed and kinetic energy alone, the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy calculated that the energy of an inert 500 kg (1,100 lb) RV impacted at a speed of Mach 6 was similar to that of the synthesized energy.
The kinetic energy and explosive force of the US subsonic Harpoon anti-vessel missile is one quarter of the energy of the Russian supersonic 12,800 pound (5,800 kg) Kh-22 missile. The missile has a 2,200 pound (1,000 kg) warhead at Mach 4 traveling speed.
Mass: 14,700 kilograms (32,400 lb)
Length: 10.7 metres (35 ft)
Diameter: 1.4 metres (4.6 ft)
Warhead: 600kg: 1, or 5-6 (improved variant) 200-300-500 kt nuclear
Engine: Solid fueled
1,770 km (1,100 mi) (DF-21/DF-21A)
1,700 km (1,100 mi) (DF-21C)
1,500 km (930 mi; 810 nmi) (DF-21D ASBM)
Speed: Mach 10
Guidance system: Inertial + terminal active radar guidance
Accuracy: DF-21 700m, DF-21A 50m, DF-21B 10m CEP (with BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and active radar)
Launch platform: Mobile launcher