China DF-2/-2A (CSS-1)

DF-2 (Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems)
Length:20.6 m
Diameter:1.65 m
Launch Weight:32,000 kg
Payload:Single warhead, 1,500 kg
Warhead:15 kT, 20 kT nuclear
Propulsion:Single-stage liquid propellant
Range:1,050 km
In Service:1966

The DF-2 (CSS-1) was a medium-range, surface-based, liquid propellant ballistic missile deployed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This terminated and obsolete system is known in China as the Dong Feng (East Wind) DF-2. The DF-2 is essentially a domestically produced version of the Soviet R-5 (SS-3 ‘Shyster’) missile.

In the mid-1950s, the Soviet Union supplied the PRC with a number of SS-2 ‘Sibling’ missiles. Several domestically produced versions were given the designation DF-1. The DF-2 was built following the break between the PRC and the Soviet Union, during the early 1960s. It is believed that the first test launch occurred in June 1964, with deployment starting in 1966. After the first flight test, the design was improved in order to increase the range. The improved DF-2, designated DF-2A, could reach targets 1,250 km away – a 200 km increase over the DF-2. The DF-2A missiles were all withdrawn in the early 1980s in favor of more reliable and more readily deployable missile platforms.

The DF-2A had a range of 1,250 km (777 miles) with a payload of 1,500 kg. It used an inertial guidance system that provided an unknown level of accuracy. However, it is likely similar to the 2000 m CEP of the Russian R-2 (SS-2). The DF-2A could carry either a 15 kT or a 20 kT warhead, making it comparable to US nuclear weapons used against Japan at the end of the Second World War. It had a length of 20.6 m, a width of 1.65 m, and a launch weight of 32,000 kg. The missile was a single-stage liquid propellant missile and needed several hours to prepare for flight.

The DF-2A has the infamous distiction as being the only ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead to be tested against a target. The Chinese launched a DF-2A with a nuclear warhead toward the Lop Nor atomic test area in October 1966. 1

  1. Lennox, Duncan. “DF-2 (CSS-1)” Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems (Offensive Weapons). October 13, 2011. (accessed September 12, 2012).
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