China has confirmed it is carrying out routine tests of a new long-range missile, launched from a railroad car. If this is true, it means the missiles would be difficult to find and destroy in a wartime scenario.
The confirmation comes after Washington Free Beacon reported last week that U.S. intelligence agencies had monitored a test of the new DF-41 missile from a train.
The DF-41, with a range of between 6,835 miles and 7,456 miles, is capable of hitting targets in the U.S. when launched from China.
It is viewed by the Pentagon as Beijing’s most potent nuclear missile and one of several new long-range missiles in development. The DF-41 is assessed by U.S. intelligence agencies as being capable of carrying 10 warheads on a single missile.
The Free Beacon report says the test are a “significant milestone”, which adds “to an existing capability to move the missile on road-mobile launchers”.
Apart from confirming the tests, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun, will not comment on the specifics.
“The scientific research tests carried out domestically are done in accordance with plans,” he says.
Over the last two years, Chinese President Xi Jinping has made no secret that one of his major priorities is to strengthened and modernize the country’s military capabilities. Since coming to power he has almost personally overseen an ambitious military modernization program, including developing stealth fighters and building its own aircraft carriers.
Although Xi says China says has no hostile intention and that it needs a modern military to protect its legitimate security needs as the world’s second-largest economy, others are not so sure.
Beijing’s neighbors, several of whom are engaged in territorial disputes with China over territory in the China Sea, as well as Washington, are eyeing the development skeptically.