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The DF-16 (Dong Feng-16 / CSS-11) is a road-mobile, solid-fueled, short-range ballistic missile developed and deployed by China. China first publicly displayed the missile during a 2015 military parade.

DF-16 at a Glance

Originated from
Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM)
Possessed by
Alternate Name(s)
CSS-11, CSS-11 Mod 2
1.2 m
500-1000 kg
HE, submunition
Solid propellant
800-1,000 km
In Service

DF-16 Development

China’s CASIC Academy of Launch Technology began developing the DF-16 in the 2000s.1 It was likely a replacement to China’s older DF-15 and DF-11 SRBMs, which date back to the 1990s and 1970s, respectively.2

Images of the DF-16 first appeared on Chinese websites in September 2012. China, however, did not officially unveil the missile until a September 2015 military parade in Beijing.3


The DF-16 is a two-stage, solid-fueled, short-range ballistic missile. It has a diameter of roughly 1.2 m and a range between 800-1,000 km.4 It can be equipped with a variety of warheads, including conventional unitary, cluster, and “bunker busting” munitions to engage hardened or deeply buried targets. The DF-16 system is road-mobile, with missiles launched from a 5-axle transporter-erector-launcher (TEL), the WS2500, produced by Wanshan.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) operates three DF-16 variants: the baseline DF-16 (CSS-11), and two variants equipped with maneuvering warheads (CSS-11 Mod 1, Mod 2). In February 2017, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) released a video of a missile exercise revealing a maneuvering warhead-equipped DF-16 variant.5 Alongside the baseline missile, the footage displayed a DF-16 fitted with a finned, maneuvering warhead, likely the CSS-11 Mod 2.6 In 2018, Chinese state media revealed a third DF-16 variant (likely CSS-1 Mod 1) with a smaller finned warhead. This variant was featured again in later state media footage; all three are likely in active service.7

Service History

Reports from Taiwanese officials and Chinese media suggest the missile had already been operational for several years prior to its official unveiling in 2015. The missile likely entered service in 2011-2012.8 It is currently deployed to the PLA Rocket Force in Guangdong Province, which puts Taiwan and Vietnam within its targeting range.9 By 2017, China deployed an estimated 12 DF-16 launchers, which grew to 36 launchers by 2021.10


    1. Peter Wood and Alex Stone, China’s Ballistic Missile Industry (Montgomery, AL: China Aerospace Studies Institute, 2021).
    2. “DF-16,” IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 14.
    3. “China’s DF-16 Medium-range Ballistic Missile,” Aviation Week, September 17, 2012, http://aviationweek.com/blog/chinas-df-16-medium-range-ballistic-missile; “For Third Time Ever, China Shows Off Its DF-16 Medium-range Ballistic Missile,” The Diplomat, February 7, 2017, http://thediplomat.com/2017/02/for-third-time-ever-china-shows-off-its-df-16-medium-range-ballistic-missile/.
    4. Defense Intelligence Agency, China Military Power: Modernizing a Force to Fight and Win, DIA-02-1706-085 (Washington, DC: Defense Intelligence Agency, 2019), https://www.dia.mil/Portals/110/Images/News/Military_Powers_Publications/China_Military_Power_FINAL_5MB_20190103.pdf.
    5. “PLA Rocket Force Trains Deployment of Dong Feng Ballistic Missiles,” Jane’s 360, February 7, 2017, http://www.janes.com/article/67520/pla-rocket-force-trains-deployment-of-dong-feng-ballistic-missiles.
    6. “PLA Drill Features Advanced Missile,” China Daily, February 10, 2017, http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2017-02/10/content_28156686.htm; Defense Intelligence Ballistic Missile Analysis Committee, Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat 2020, (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH: National Air and Space Intelligence Center, 2020).
    7. Decker Eveleth, Twitter post, January 23, 2021, https://mobile.twitter.com/dex_eve/status/1353139470246178817/photo/1.
    8. “New Chinese Ballistic Missile Crashes the Battlefield Party with Cluster Munitions,” Popular Science, February 19, 2016, http://www.popsci.com/new-chinese-ballistic-missiles-crashes-battlefield-party-with-cluster-munitions.
    9. “New Chinese Missile Upgrade Likely Designed with Taiwan in Its Crosshairs,” Forbes, February 15, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2017/02/15/new-chinese-missile-upgrade-likely-designed-with-taiwan-in-its-crosshairs/#13ee8b71ba6d.
    10. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), “Chapter Six: Asia,” in The Military Balance 2017 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2017); IISS, “Chapter Six: Asia,” in The Military Balance 2021 (International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2021).
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Missile Defense Project, "DF-16," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, November 16, 2017, last modified January 25, 2023, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/dong-feng-16-css-11/.