The ballistic missile threat against Taiwan just got more serious.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense today confirmed for the first time that China has deployed and is targeting the island-nation with the advanced Dong Feng 16 (DF-16) ballistic missile.
The DF-16, a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) with an estimated range of 800-1,000 km, is believed to be maneuverable and may carry multiple warheads (Multiple Independently Targeted Re-entry Vehicles, or MIRV), according to a MND report to Taiwan’s legislature this morning. Due to the higher altitude it must reach before descending towards its target, the faster re-entry of a medium-range missile also poses additional challenges for tracking and interception and could overwhelm Taiwan’s PAC-2/3 air defense systems.
This was the first time that Taiwan’s MND confirmed that the Second Artillery Corps, which controls China’s strategic missile arsenal, was aiming the new missile at Taiwan. Former National Security Bureau (NSB) director Tsai Der-sheng first mentioned the existence of the DF-16 during a report to the legislature in March 2011. The first full image of the DF-16, which was developed by China Aerospace Science and Industries Corporation (CASIC), emerged on the Internet in September 2012. It was first unveiled to the public during the V Day military parade in Beijing on Sept. 3, 2015.
The DF-16 can deliver a warhead with an accuracy of 5-10 m accuracy. According to defense expert Richard Fisher, the DF-16 relies on a 10×10 wheeled transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) similar to that used for the DF-21C/D MRBM. The DF-16 can carry between one and three warheads armed with conventional high explosives, cluster munitions of 500 to 1,000 kg, or a nuclear warhead.
China aims an estimated 1,500 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles at Taiwan.