Asia

State-of-the-art Chinese ballistic missile appears in military drills

DF-16 short-range ballistic missiles in a 2015 parade.

DF-16 short-range ballistic missiles in a 2015 parade.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

A highly accurate Chinese ballistic missile capable of threatening U.S. and Japanese bases in Asia has made its latest appearance at recent Rocket Force drills.

The medium-range DF-16 featured in a video posted last week on the Defense Ministry's website showing the missiles aboard their 10-wheeled mobile launch vehicles being deployed in deep forest during exercises over the just-concluded Lunar New Year holiday.

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While the Rocket Force boasts an extensive armory of missiles of various ranges, the DF-16 fills a particular role in extending China's reach over waters it seeks to control within what it calls the "first-island chain."

First displayed at a Beijing military parade in 2015, the missile is believed to have a range of 620 miles, putting it within striking distance of Okinawa, home to several U.S. military installations, as well as the Japanese home islands, Taiwan and the Philippines.

The two-stage DF-16 replaces the older, shorter range DF-11, with a final stage that can adjust its trajectory to strike slow moving targets and evade anti-missile defenses such as the U.S. Patriot system deployed by Taiwan.

It also carries up to three warheads weighing as much as a ton and carrying conventional high explosives or a nuclear weapon. Further increasingly its lethality, the missile is believed to be accurate to within as little as 16 feet of the target, similar to that of a cruise missile.