Dong Feng 31, or DF-31, is one of China’s latest achievements
In 1960, China successfully built the first Dongfeng missile (DF-1) with a range of only about 550km and using liquid fuel. Since then, the country has made great strides in research and manufacturing of missiles, switching from liquid to solid fuel with greater power, carrying more nuclear warheads. Its range and deterrent power are increasing.
Dong Feng 31, or DF-31, is one of China’s latest achievements. It is designated as the third-generation long-range, road-mobile, three stage, solid-fuel rocket intercontinental ballistic missile. It is designed to carry a single 1-megaton thermonuclear weapon, and is a land-based variant of the submarine-launched JL-2. It is operated by the Second Artillery Corps, which, in 2009, was estimated to have under 15 DF-31 missiles and under 15 DF-31A missiles in inventory.
The PRC began developing the DF-31 ICBM in January 1985. The land-based variant of the JL-2 was originally called the DF-23 but was changed later on to the DF-31 because of a change in operational requirements. In 1999, the missile was first displayed publicly at the National Day Parade. On August 2, 1999, the Chinese state news media reported the successful test of the DF-31. Operational deployment of the missiles reportedly began in 2006. In 2009, US Air Force Intelligence reported that under 15 DF-31 missiles had been deployed.
The original DF-31 carries a single 1 MT capacity warhead. Yet the improved DF-31A carries 3 MIRVs with 20, 90, or 150 kT capacity each. Also it carries decoys in order to overcome missile defense systems. It has been reported that the DF-31A has a range of 11,200 km.