A photo of a DF-41 when it was first seen in 2007. (Internet photo)
An anonymous US official says a Chinese DF-41 ICBM with the range to strike any city in the United States was test-fired by the PLA's Second Artillery Corps for the first time on Jul. 24, according to Jane's Defence Weekly.
With many American observers believing the missile can carry multiple independently targetable warheads, the DF-41 is considered a serious threat to US national security. An analyst told Jane's Defence Weekly that the ICBM can carry around 10 nuclear warheads to strike at multiple targets in the continental United States.
An article by Bill Gertz published in the Washington Free Beacon on Aug. 15 said the test of the DF-41 was conducted by the Second Artillery Corps of the People's Liberation Army at Wuzhai missile and space test center in the eastern province of Shandong nearly a month ago. "The new missile bolsters China's strategic forces," Gertz said, "making them among the most diverse in the world, with a variety of short-, medium-, intermediate- and intercontinental-range missiles."
The United States is currently unable to intercept missiles which employ a MIRV system. "The DF-41's multiple warheads are expected to include special simulated warheads called 'penetration aids' that are designed to counter US missile defense sensors," said Larry Wortzel, a member of the congressional US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
"The Chinese military's Second Artillery Corps, which is in charge of both strategic and non-nuclear missiles, is working to integrate the DF-41 into its operational inventory," said Mark Stokes, executive director of the Project 2049 Institute. "The system appears to incorporate a new, larger solid rocket motor than that used on the DF-31 series of delivery vehicles. Ground tests on the motor have been underway for a couple of years."
Phillip Karber from Georgetown University said that China will be able to target every US city with a population over 50,000 people by just putting 32 DF-41 MIRV missiles into service.