China's progress in the last five decades has been phenomenal in almost every sphere. It has emerged as a global superpower not only on the economic front but also militarily. With a massive army and an array of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, China is a force to reckon with in the current geopolitics.
China's Dongfeng series of missiles are feared by the enemy and there is a good reason for it. The latest addition to the Dongfeng family is DF-41, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) evolved from the DF-31 featuring an enlarged third stage to achieve an improved range of 12,000 km. Its extended range will provide China capability to target the whole United States, Europe, Asia and Africa territories.
After its first test in 2012 from the Wuzhai Space and Missile Test Center, Dongfeng-41 or DF-41 has been test fired eight times. It is now ready to be inducted into the forces and according to an estimate, China could have around 50-100 DF-41s ready by 2020.
DF-41 would be able to carry 10 independently targetable reentry vehicles or MIRVs. Dongfeng-41 will have a speed of more than Mach 10 and can use decoy devices to pierce its way through the enemy's missile warning and defence systems. DF-41 is believed to be 33 tonnes and approximately 15 meters long - and can be mounted on a truck, or launched from a silo.
Other missiles of the Dongfeng family:
Dongfeng is a family of missiles developed by China which consist of short, medium, intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Development of Dongfeng missiles started in the 1950s with Soviet assistance after signing of Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance in 1950.
Dongfeng 1 and Dongfeng 2 were the first two developed in this missile family with ranges of 500 kms and 1,250 kms respectively. Both were in use in the 1960s but are not in operation anymore. Dongfeng 3 or DF 3, considered to be a copy of soviet R-14 Chusovaya missile, had a range of 2,500 kms, but even this has been retired from the service and replaced by DF 21.
Dongfeng 4 and 5 were also developed, while the former will be replaced by DF-31 and the latter has an improved version, DF-5A, that can carry nuclear warheads over 12,000 kms.
Several other missiles in the series like DF-21, DF-26 and DF-31. DF-26, a two-stage solid fuel rocket IRBM, measures 14 meters long with a diameter of 1.4 meters and a launch weight of 20 tonnes. It can carry a nuclear or conventional warhead that weighs 1,200-1,800 kilograms and has an estimated maximum range of more than 5,000 km.