DF-11 (Dong Feng-11 / M-11 / CSS-7)

The DF-11 (Dong Feng-11 / M-11 / CSS-7) is a short-range, road-mobile, solid-fueled ballistic missile developed and deployed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It was the PRC’s first conventionally-armed SRBM, and its export version, the M-11, is believed to be the basis for Pakistan’s Shaheen I, II, and Ababeel missiles, among others.1

DF-11 at a Glance

Originated from: People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Possessed by: People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Alternate names: CSS-7, M-11 (export version)
Class: Short-range ballistic missile (SRBM)
Basing: Road-mobile
Length: 7.5 m
Diameter: 0.8 m
Launch weight: 3,800 kg
Payload: Single warhead, 500-800 kg
Warhead: Nuclear 2/10/20 kt, HE, submunitions, FAE, or chemical
Propulsion: Single-stage, solid propellant
Range: 280-300 km (DF-11A: 500-600 km)
Status: Operational
In service: 1992-present

Development

DF-11China began development of the M-11 – the DF-11’s predecessor – in 1984, as part of its “M” missile family produced specifically for export. The M-11 was likely developed as a competitive export and indigenous alternative to the Soviet R-17 (SS-1 ‘Scud B’). The Chinese missile is essentially a solid-fueled version of its liquid-fueled Soviet analog and thus requires significantly reduced launch preparation time.2 China Sanjiang Space Group, previously called Base 066, took lead in research and development of the M-11.3 The missile was slightly altered, flight tested in 1990, and re-designated as the DF-11 after it entered service with the PLA Second Artillery Corps in 1992.4

Specifications

The DF-11 is a single stage, solid-fueled, road-mobile SRBM that measures 7.5 m in length, 0.8 m in diameter, and is estimated to have a launch weight of 3,800 kg. It can deliver a payload of 500 kg over a maximum distance of 300 km.5 Like the Scuds it replaced, the DF-11 can fit the Soviet MAZ 543 Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL) vehicle, which can be modified to carry missiles with varying specifications. The missile uses INS-based guidance, and its accuracy is measured at 600 m CEP. The DF-11 was initially developed with a HE warhead for export, but variants in service with the PLA have an optional 2/10/20 kt nuclear warhead, fuel-air explosive (FAE), chemical, or submunition warheads. Four small control fins are located at the rear of the warhead section; it is unclear whether they are simply stabilizers or if they move and provide terminal control after warhead separation.6

DF-11A (CSS-7 Mod 2)

DF-11An improved variant of the DF-11, the DF-11A offers an increased range, larger payload, and improved accuracy. Development began in 1993, and its existence was first reported in 1998. The DF-11A measures 8.5 m in length and weighs approximately 4,200 kg. It can carry a 500 kg payload over a reported range of 500-600 km.7 Front fins are not located on the warhead assembly like those on the first DF-11 variant. Chinese developers added satellite navigation, improving the missile’s accuracy to 150-200 m CEP. Unconfirmed reports suggest that an optical correlation terminal guidance system was later fitted, which would further improve the accuracy to 20-30 m CEP. The DF-11A conducted its first test flight in 1997, and it entered service with the PLA Second Artillery Corps in 1999.8

Service History

The DF-11 entered service with the Second Artillery Corps in 1992. By 1996, four DF-11 equipped missile brigades deployed in Jiangshan (Zhejiang Province), Yungan and Xianyou (Fujian Province), and Meizhou (Guangdong Province).9 In 2009, a U.S. Department of Defense report stated that China had 700-750 operational missiles and 120-140 launchers.10 The same report notes that China had between 1,050 to 1,150 DF-11 and DF-15 SRBMs deployed opposite Taiwan, at locations which offer strikes times of 6-8 minutes.11 As of 2017, China has approximately 108 DF-11A missiles deployed across four brigades.12

Sales to Pakistan and Iran

In November 1992, China sold 34 M-11 missiles to Pakistan. Satellite images showed missile canisters were delivered at Sargodha air base near Lahore.13 The Chinese government initially denied these allegations, accusing U.S. intelligence agencies of fabricating evidence of the transfer. The United States reimposed limited sanctions in response.14 After Beijing provided a more explicit commitment to adhere to the MTCR guidelines and to stop exporting missiles, the Clinton Administration lifted the sanctions in 1994.15 Although China pledged not to transfer missiles to Pakistan, it reportedly continued to assist Pakistan in developing its own indigenous missile capability.16 In 1992, China attempted to sell to Iran 500 DF-11 missiles. However, the deal was terminated due to U.S. pressure.17 A reported 30-50 DF-11 missiles may have been sold to Iran in 1995, although this remains unconfirmed.18

    1. “Pakistan Tests New Ballistic Missile Capable of Carrying Multiple Nuclear Warheads,” The Diplomat, January 25, 2017, https://thediplomat.com/2017/01/pakistan-tests-new-ballistic-missile-capable-of-carrying-multiple-nuclear-warheads/.
    2. “DF-11 (CSS-7/M-11)” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 9.
    3. “China Sanjiang Space Group,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, October 25, 1996, http://www.nti.org/learn/facilities/68/.
    4. IHS Jane’s Strategic 2015-2016, 9-11.
    5. Ibid.
    6. Ibid.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Ibid.
    9. “China Sanjiang Space Group,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, October 25, 1996, http://www.nti.org/learn/facilities/68/.
    10. “Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2009,” Department of Defense, 2009, 66, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/China_Military_Power_Report_2009.pdf.
    11. Ibid., 48.; “Air base defense: Taiwan’s defensive responses to China’s missile threat” in Taiwan’s Security and Air Power: Taiwan’s Defense Against the Air Threat from Mainland China, ed. Martin Edmonds and Michael M. Tsai (United Kingdom: Routledge, 2004), 142.
    12. “Chapter Six: Asia,” in The Military Balance 2017, (United Kingdom: IISS, 2017), 279.
    13. “DF-11,” Federation of American Scientists, September 9, 2000, https://fas.org/nuke/guide/china/theater/df-11.htm.
    14. “U.S. Imposes Sanctions on China, Pakistan Over Missile Deal,” Los Angeles Times, August 26, 1993, http://articles.latimes.com/1993-08-26/news/mn-28209_1_missile-technology-control-regime.
    15. “U.S. to Lift Ban on Satellite Tech Sales to China,” The Los Angeles Times, October 5, 1994, http://articles.latimes.com/1994-10-05/news/mn-46694_1_clinton-administration-officials.
    16. Shirley A. Kan, “China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues,” Congressional Research Service, (January 5, 2015), 6, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/RL31555.pdf.
    17. Ethan Meick, “China’s Reported Ballistic Missile Sale to Saudi Arabia: Background and Potential Implications,” U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, (June 16, 2014), 4, https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/Staff%20Report_China%27s%20Reported%20Ballistic%20Missile%20Sale%20to%20Saudi%20Arabia_0.pdf.
    18. IHS Jane’s Strategic 2015-2016, 9-11.