DF-16 (Dong Feng-16 / CSS-11)

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

DF-16 at a Glance

Originated from: People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Possessed by: People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Class: Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM)
Alternate names: CSS-11, CSS-11 Mod 2
Basing: Road-mobile
Diameter: 1.2 m
Payload: 500-1,000 kg
Warhead: 1-3 HE, submunition, nuclear
Propulsion: Solid propellant
Range: 800-1,000 km
Status: Operational
In service: 2011

DF-16 Development

Dong Feng 16Development of the DF-16 began in the mid-2000s. It was likely a replacement to China’s older DF-15 and DF-11 SRBMs, which date back to the 1990s and 1970s, respectively.1 Imagery of the DF-16 was first revealed on Chinese websites in September 2012. China, however, did not officially unveil the the missile until a September 2015 military parade in Beijing.2


The DF-16 is a two-stage solid-fueled, road-mobile, short-range ballistic missile. It has a diameter of 1.2 m and can carry a 1,000 kg payload between 800-1,000 km. It can be equipped with up to three MIRV high explosive, nuclear, or submunition warheads.

In February 2017, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) released a video of a missile exercise, which appeared to show two distinct DF-16 variants.3 One version, likely the original, had a more aerodynamic bullet-shaped fuselage, while the other appeared to be a newer variant with a potentially maneuverable warhead featuring fins on the upper stage.4

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 DF-16 likely entered service in 2011-2012.5 It is currently deployed to the PLA Rocket Force in Guangdong Province, which puts Taiwan and Vietnam within its targeting range.6 According to one 2017 report, China has deployed 12 DF-16s.7

    1. “DF-16,” IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 14.
    2. “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/.
    3. “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.
    4. “PLA Drill Features Advanced Missile,” China Daily, February 10, 2017, http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2017-02/10/content_28156686.htm.
    5. “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.
    6. “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.
    7. IISS, “Chapter Six: Asia,” in The Military Balance 2017 (February 13, 2017), 279.