Military Wiki
DF-5A/CSS-4 Mod 2
Place of origin People's Republic of China
Service history
In service 1981[1]–present
Used by Second Artillery Corps
Production history
Manufacturer Factory 211 (Capital Astronautics Co.)
Weight 183 tonnes (180 long tons; 202 short tons)
Length 32.6 m (106 ft 11 in)
Diameter 3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)

Warhead One, MIRV (6 warheads) speculated on later variants
Blast yield 4–5 Mt[1]

Engine Two-stage Liquid fueled
12,000–15,000 km (7,500–9,300 mi)[2]
Inertial + on-board computers [3]
Accuracy ~1,000 m (3,300 ft) CEP

The Dongfeng 5[Wǔ] (Chinese: 東風-5, literally "Eurus 5") or DF-5 is a 3 stage Chinese ICBM. It has a length of 32.6 m and a diameter of 3.35 m. It weighs in at 183,000 kilograms and it has an estimated range of 12,000 to 15,000 kilometers. The DF-5 had its first flight in 1971 and was in operational service 10 years later. One of the downsides of the missile is that it takes between 30 and 60 minutes to fuel. The DF-5 is due to be replaced by the DF-41.[4]


The DF-5 was designed under the leadership of Tu Shou'e [屠守锷] at the China Academy of Launch Technology (CALT); Li Xu'e) [李绪鄂] served as deputy chief designer. The missile was produced at the China's Factory 211 (Capital Astronautics Co. [首都航天机械公司], also known as the Capital Machine Shop [首都机械厂]).

When the DF-5 was first tested in September 1971, it had a range of 10,000 to 12,000 km which allowed it to threaten the western portions of the United States. Beginning in 1983 the Chinese inaugurated the improved DF-5A, with range increased to over 15,000 km and a more accurate guidance system. The DF-5A upgrade increased the throw-weight of the system from 3,000 kg to 3,200 kg.


DF-5 range

As with the DF-4, initially the DF-5 was stored in a horizontal position in tunnels under high mountains, and are launched immediately outside the mouth of the tunnel. The missiles must be moved into the open and fueled prior to firing, an operational mode dubbed chu men fang pao (firing a cannon outdoors), with the fueling operation apparently requiring about two hours. The initial deployment of a pair of DF-5s in silos in Central China was completed in 1981. That portion of the DF-5A force that is deployed in silos could be maintained in a ready-to-fire status. In order to enhance the survivability of these missiles, China has constructed a large number of decoy silos which consist of shallow holes excavations with headworks that resemble operational silos.

According to the National Air Intelligence Center, as of 1998 the deployed DF-5 force consisted of "fewer than 25" missiles. From early 1999 to 2008 the total deployed DF-5 force was generally estimated at about 20 missiles.[5]

MIRV Upgrades

The current force of DF-5 missiles is deployed with a single warhead, but in November 1983 China inaugurated a DF-5A modification program to arm these ICBMs with MIRVed warheads. Technical difficulties, however, had stalled the program. The PLA leadership may have planned to MIRV the DF-5A system, however there is no evidence that they have been deployed. The Federation of American Scientists asserts that despite having the theoretical ability to develop MIRV payloads, China has not deployed or even flight tested MIRV buses or MRV delivery payloads due to the high cost of development and deployment, and a lack of military necessity.[2] Other analysts, such as John Tkacik of the International Assessment and Strategy Center, assert that China has flight-tested MIRV buses and begun equipping its ICBMs with such vehicles.[6]

While the Defense Intelligence Agency and arms control oriented NGOs believe that China's nuclear arsenal has not significantly increased from the 200-300 warheads it had deployed and in stockpile in the early 1980s, analysis by former Russian Strategic Rocket Forces commander Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin estimates China's nuclear arsenal amounts to 1,600 to 1,800 warheads, and Georgetown University professor and former DOD nuclear strategist Philip Karber estimates the Chinese arsenal to consist of up to 3,000 warheads.[6][7][8] This would suggest that China treats its strategic nuclear arsenal as a high priority.



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