Asien — Chinas ballistische Mittelstreckenrakete DF-25

This arti­cle is pub­lished with kind per­mis­sion of “Chi­nese Defence Today —”.

Chinese Defence Today

Sinodefence - two DF-25 missiles in ready-to-launch position (Source: Chinese Internet)
Inter­net source pho­to of two DF-25 mis­siles in ready-to-launch posi­tion
(Source: Chi­nese Inter­net)

DF-25 Medi­um-Range Bal­lis­tic Mis­sile
The DF-25 (Dong Feng-25) is a two-stage, sol­id-pro­pel­lant, mobile-launch medi­um-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile (MRBM) intro­duced by the Sec­ond Artillery Corps (SAC) of the People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) around 2004~05. The DF-25 can deliv­er a sin­gle and mul­ti­ple con­ven­tion­al war­heads weight­ing 2,000kg over a max­i­mum dis­tance of 1,700km. The mis­sile is launched from a wheeled 10X10 vehi­cle capa­ble of road and off-road trav­el­ling.

Although in its ear­ly years China’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gramme main­ly con­cen­trat­ed on the design and devel­op­ment of nuclear-armed strate­gic mis­siles, the Chi­nese mil­i­tary realised that short- to medi­um-range tac­ti­cal bal­lis­tic mis­sile (TBM) could also play an impor­tant role. In the mid-1970s, the PLA pro­posed a short-range TBM that can car­ry both con­ven­tion­al and nuclear war­head. Such a mis­sile could be used to close moun­tain pass­es to stop or slow a pos­si­ble inva­sion by the Sovi­et forces. The project was lat­er can­celled.

In the 1980s, with the suc­cess of the short-range TBMs such as M‑9 (DF-15) and M‑11 (DF-11) in the export mar­ket, the Chi­nese mil­i­tary reassessed the cost-effec­tive­ness of the TBM and con­clud­ed that it could off­set the PLA’s defi­cien­cies in its lack of long-range strike air­craft, aer­i­al tanker, and air­craft car­ri­er. The PLA recog­nised that con­ven­tion­al­ly-armed bal­lis­tic mis­siles, capa­ble of pro­vid­ing an abil­i­ty to deliv­er fire­pow­er quick­ly over extend­ed dis­tances, would be use­ful in sup­port­ing the PLA Navy’s oper­a­tions in the region that is far from the coast, for exam­ple, the dis­put­ed Nan­sha (Sprat­ly) Islands.

In the late 1980s, Bei­jing ordered the then Min­istry of Aero­space Indus­try to speed up the devel­op­ment of the DF-25 mis­sile pro­gramme as a stop­gap mea­sure to sup­port China’s claim over the Nan­sha Islands as well as oth­er few islands in the South Chi­na Sea. The devel­op­ment pro­gramme was slowed down again in the 1990s as a result of the improved Sino-Viet­nam rela­tion. West­ern intel­li­gence con­clud­ed the DF-25 pro­gramme was aban­doned in 1996. How­ev­er, the project was qui­et­ly kept alive and the mis­sile final­ly entered oper­a­tional ser­vice in 2004/05.

An sketchy image of the DF-25 mis­siles was first pub­lished anony­mous­ly on the Chi­nese Inter­net in Novem­ber 2006, fol­lowed by a high-res­o­lu­tion pho­to also pub­lished anony­mous­ly in July 2007. The online ver­sion of the PLA Dai­ly lat­er also pub­lished a pho­to show­ing PLA Sec­ond Artillery Corps sol­diers load­ing a mis­sile onto a trans­porter-erec­tor-launch­er (TEL) vehi­cle exact­ly iden­ti­cal to that shown in pre­vi­ous pho­tos, indi­cat­ing that the mis­sile was already in oper­a­tional ser­vice.

The DF-25 was the sec­ond sol­id-pro­pel­lant MRBM deployed by the PLA, after the DF-21 that entered ser­vice in the late 1980s. The two mis­siles have approx­i­mate­ly sim­i­lar range of 1,700km, but the con­ven­tion­al­ly-armed DF-25 has a much high­er pay­load of 2,000kg, com­pared to the 600kg pay­load of the nuclear-armed DF-21.

From the Inter­net source pho­to, it can be seen that the DF-25 MRBM is mount­ed on a WS2500 wheeled 10X10 TEL vehi­cle, with a max­i­mum load capac­i­ty of 28 tonnes. Report­ed­ly devel­oped under the assis­tance of Belarus and resem­bling the Russ­ian MAZ543 mis­sile TEL vehi­cle, the WS2500 shows strong off-road trav­el­ling abil­i­ty.

Some reports sug­gest­ed that the DF-25 was derived by remov­ing the third-stage from the three-stage DF-31 ICBM and sub­sti­tut­ing a mod­i­fied sec­ond stage. The mis­sile is placed inside a cylin­der-shape container/launcher, with its nose extend­ing out­side of the launch­er. The mis­sile container/launcher is in hor­i­zon­tal posi­tion when in trav­el­ling and ver­ti­cal posi­tion dur­ing launch. At the bot­tom of the container/launcher there are four large hydrauli­cal­ly oper­at­ed sta­bilis­ers, which are low­ered in prepa­ra­tion for the mis­sile launch.

It is now known that type of war­heads the DF-25 is car­ry­ing, but it can be assumed that the pos­si­ble options for the war­head may include high-explo­sive (HE), anti-armour sub­mu­ni­tions, fuel air explo­sive (FAE), and elec­tro­mag­net­ic pulse (EMP). The PLA has also been report­ed­ly devel­op­ing the tech­nol­o­gy of using bal­lis­tic mis­siles car­ry­ing mul­ti­ple con­ven­tion­al war­heads to attack air­craft car­ri­ers. If this is true, the DF-25 offers an ide­al deliv­ery vehi­cle for this type of war­heads.

Like the DF-11 and DF-15 SRBMs, the DF-25 is like­ly to be equipped with a com­bined inertial/GPS guid­ance sys­tem, pos­si­bly cou­pled with ter­mi­nal guid­ance for high­er accu­ra­cy.

Sinodefence - DF-25 missile TEL being mobilised via railway or road Sinodefence - DF-25 missile TEL being mobilised via railway or road Sinodefence - DF-25 missile TEL being mobilised via railway or road
DF-25 TEL in Mobil­i­sa­tion:
Inter­net source pho­tos show­ing the DF-25 mis­sile TEL
being mobilised via rail­way or road
(Source: Chi­nese Inter­net)

Sinodefence - Loading Missile onto DF-25 TEL
Load­ing Mis­sile onto DF-25 TEL:
The online ver­sion of the PLA Dai­ly pub­lished a pho­to show­ing
SAC sol­diers load­ing a mis­sile onto a TEL vehi­cle
(Source: PLA Dai­ly)