China DF-5/-5A (CSS-4)

DF-5 (Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems)
Originated From:China
Possessed By:China
Basing:Silo-based
Length:36.0 m
Diameter:3.35 m
Launch Weight:183,000 kg
Payload:Single warhead, 3,900 kg
Warhead:Nuclear 1-3 MT
Propulsion:Two-stage liquid
Range:12,000 km
In Service:1981

The DF-5 (CSS-4) is an intercontinental-range, silo-based, liquid propellant ballistic missile. It is the first intercontinental-range ballistic missile developed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The DF-5 derives the technology and equipment used from advances made during the creation of the DF-4 (CSS-3). The DF-5 was the first Chinese missile to truly threaten the United States. While previous missiles could strike strategic targets in Russia and key US military bases in Asia, the DF-5 was the first that could strike the continental US.

DF-5 test launch.
Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems

The DF-5 has an effective range of 12,000 km (7,456 miles) and delivers a payload of 3,900 kg. This payload is equipped with a 1 to 3 MT yield nuclear warhead. It is reported to also be equipped with chaff and decoys, or penetration aids to increase its effectiveness against any missile defense system. Its inertial guidance system provides it with an accuracy of 800 m CEP. It has a length of 36.0 m, a width of 3.35 m, and a launch weight of 183,000 kg. It uses a two-stage liquid propellant engine.

The DF-5 entered development in 1965, but many of the technological advances required for the successful completion of the project took time to materialize. The first flight test occurred in 1971, and the first silo launch occurring in 1979. The missile is believed to have entered service in 1981 and was deployed in hardened silos in central China. The DF-5 was used as a basis for a number of other programs, such as the Long March-2C space launch vehicle, the later cancelled DF-6 fractional orbital bombardment program, the PRC penetration aid program, and the improved DF-5A. The similarity between the space launch vehicles and the DF-5/DF-5A result in conflicting estimates of between 20 and 50 missiles deployed.

The missiles are expected to begin being phased out in favor of the DF-31A in 2005, although this has not been confirmed by China. The missiles will likely remain operational until 2015.

DF-4 (left) and DF-5 (right) paraded in Beijing.
Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems

DF-5A

The DF-5A is an intercontinental-range, silo-based, liquid propellant ballistic missile. The physical size of the DF-5A is identical to the DF-5 (CSS-4), but its range, payload, warhead assembly, and accuracy have been modified.

The DF-5A is an improved version of the DF-5, with a 1,000 km (621 miles) increase in range and 300 m CEP increase in accuracy. It has an effective range of 13,000 km (8,078 miles) and delivers a payload of 3,200 kg. This payload can be equipped with a 1 to 3 MT yield nuclear warhead. An unconfirmed report states the payload has also been equipped with Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs) taken from the DF-31 (CSS-9), numbering between four and six warheads with individual yields of 150-350 kT. The DF-5A is reported to also be equipped with chaff and decoys, or penetration aids which increase its effectiveness against missile defense systems. Its inertial guidance system provides it with an estimated accuracy of 500 m CEP. It has a length of 36 m, a width of 3.35 m and a launch weight of 183,000 kg. It uses a two-stage liquid propellant engine. 1

  1. Lennox, Duncan. “DF-5 (CSS-4)” Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems (Offensive Weapons). August 9, 2012. (accessed September 12, 2012).
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