Praemon

How the PRC’s Newest IRBM Threatens American Military Power in the Pacific

How the PRC’s Newest IRBM Threatens American Military Power in the Pacific

On January 25, 2020, Posted by , In Analysis Reports,Asia,Information Reports,OSINT, By ,,,, , With Comments Off on How the PRC’s Newest IRBM Threatens American Military Power in the Pacific
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DF-26’s Threat and Capabilities

The range, speed, and accuracy of the Dongfeng-26 (DF-26), the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) newest intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), threatens Joint Region Marianas, where Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) are located.[1] Unlike previous ballistic missiles developed by the PRC—which threatened American forces within 3,000km of China[2]—the DF-26 places naval and air force facilities at Guam at risk, as well as any ships at a similar range.[3] The PRC’s development of the DF-26 is part of a decades-long strategy to restrict the United States’ ability to intervene in a conflict against the PRC’s interests west of Guam.[4] I am moderately confident that the immediate threat to Joint Region Marianas is low because neither the PRC, nor the US, nor Taiwan are currently engaged in military conflict and the abilities of the DF-26 are publicly unproven.[5] However, in the event of a conflict, particularly over Taiwan, the PRC might target American forces at or near Guam, likely limiting an effective military response.

To restore deterrence and freedom of action, the United States must minimize the advantage the DF-26 offers China by choosing one or a combination of the following options: fortifying facilities on Guam, spreading American forces across the region, improving missile defense, seeking a multilateral or bilateral IRBM treaty, or increasing its own striking capabilities.[6]

Specifications and Launch Details

The DF-26 missile, developed in 2015 and commissioned to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 2018,[7] is designed to carry both conventional and nuclear warheads (some of which may be hypersonic)[8] to land- and sea-based targets up to 3,000-4,000km from the launch site.[9] Some military observers believe the circular error probable (CEP) to be between 150-450m at intermediate-range.[10]

The DF-26 is part of the Dongfeng (lit. “East Wind”)[11] series of missiles, which consists of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), IRBMs, medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM), and short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM).[12] It is designed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation[13] and is described by Senior Colonel Wu Qian as produced solely by China.[14] The DF-26 is 14m in length, 1.4m in diameter, weighs 20,000kg and can carry a payload between 1,200-1,800kg. The missile is fueled by two-stage solid propellant.[15] The DF-26 is transported and fired from the HTF5690 12X12 Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL), 12 of which are currently deployed at the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) training range near Alxa in China’s inner Mongolia region.[16]


[1]“History,” Command, Joint Region Marianas, United States Navy, https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/jrm/about/history.html; “Bases Around the World,” Today’s Military, United States Department of Defense,

https://www.todaysmilitary.com/about-military/bases-around-world; “Distance Between Cities on a Map,” DistanceFromTo, https://www.distancefromto.net/

[2]Missile Defense Project, “Hong Niao Series (HN-1/-2/-3),” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 12, 2016, last modified November 26, 2019, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/hong-niao/; Missile Defense Project, “Missiles of China,” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 14, 2018, last modified January 13, 2020, https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/china/.

[3]TNI Staff, “Meet the DF-26 Missile: China’s Prized Anti-Carrier Weapon,” The National Interest, October 3, 2019, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/meet-df-26-missile-chinas-prized-anti-carrier-weapon-85261

[4]Jordan Wilson, “China’s Expanding Ability to Conduct Conventional Missile Strikes on Guam,” pg. 3 Staff Research Report, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, May 10, 2016, https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/Staff%20Report_China’s%20Expanding%20Ability%20to%20Conduct%20Conventional%20Missile%20Strikes%20on%20Guam.pdf

[5]Ibid. pg. 8

[6]Ibid. pg. 14-15

[7]Billie Thomson, “China Launches Its Nuclear-Capable, Hypersonic Nuclear Missile DF-26 Which ‘Could Reach US Territory and Sink Aircraft Carriers’ in a Military Drill,” DailyMail.com, January 8, 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7864429/China-launches-hypersonic-nuclear-missile-able-reach-territory-military-drill.html.

[8]Messages with Dr. Kerry Kartchner, January 24, 2020.

[9]TNI Staff, “Meet the DF-26 Missile: China’s Prized Anti-Carrier Weapon,” The National Interest, October 3, 2019, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/meet-df-26-missile-chinas-prized-anti-carrier-weapon-85261

[10]Jordan Wilson, “China’s Expanding Ability to Conduct Conventional Missile Strikes on Guam,” U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, May 10, 2016, 8, https://www.uscc.gov/Research/china%E2%80%99s-expanding-ability-conduct-conventional-missile-strikes-guam. As cited in Missile Defense Project, “DF-26 (Dong Feng-26),” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 8, 2018, last modified November 26, 2019, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/dong-feng-26-df-26/.

[11]Billie Thomson, “China Launches Its Nuclear-Capable, Hypersonic Nuclear Missile DF-26 Which ‘Could Reach US Territory and Sink Aircraft Carriers” in a Military Drill,” DailyMail.com, January 8, 2020,  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7864429/China-launches-hypersonic-nuclear-missile-able-reach-territory-military-drill.html

[12]Missile Defense Project, “Missiles of China,” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 14, 2018, last modified January 13, 2020, https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/china/.

[13]Missile Defense Project, “DF-26 (Dong Feng-26),” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 8, 2018, last modified November 26, 2019, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/dong-feng-26-df-26/.

[14]TNI Staff, “Meet the DF-26 Missile: China’s Prized Anti-Carrier Weapon,” The National Interest, October 3, 2019,  https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/meet-df-26-missile-chinas-prized-anti-carrier-weapon-85261

[15]Missile Defense Project, “DF-26 (Dong Feng-26),” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 8, 2018, last modified November 26, 2019, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/dong-feng-26-df-26/.

[16]Sean O’Connor, “DF-26 TELs sighted at new PLARF training facility,” IHS Jane’s, January 10, 2019, https://web.archive.org/web/20190111133519/https://www.janes.com/article/85647/df-26-tels-sighted-at-new-plarf-training-facility. As cited in Missile Defense Project, “DF-26 (Dong Feng-26),” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 8, 2018, last modified November 26, 2019, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/dong-feng-26-df-26/.

Featured Image taken from: Unofficial China Blog, December 20, 2019. Accessed January 25, 2020 at https://unofficialchina.blog/guam-killer-dongfeng-26-missiles-the-pla-rocket-army/

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