The Dong Feng-26 (DF-26) is a Chinese intermediate-range ballistic missile, likely a longer-ranged version of China’s DF-21 MRBM. It is considered China’s first conventionally-armed ballistic missile capable of striking Guam.1 It has a range of 3,000-4,000 km, capable of ranging most U.S. military bases in the eastern Pacific Ocean.2 The missile can be armed with a conventional or nuclear warhead, and an antiship variant may also be in development.3
DF-26 at a Glance
Originated from: People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Possessed by: People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Class: Intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM)
Length: 14 m
Diameter: 1.4 m
Launch weight: 20,000 kg
Payload: 1,200-1,800 kg
Warhead: Nuclear, conventional
Propulsion: Solid propellant, two-stage
Range: 3,000-4,000 km
Status: Operational, (ASBM variant possibly in development)
In service: 2015
Designed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the DF-26 IRBM was first publicly unveiled during a September 2015 military parade in Beijing.4 At the event, China displayed 16 missiles on road-mobile transporter-erector launchers (TELs) marked “DF-26,” in Latin letters.5 6 Official commentary during the parade described the missile as possessing both nuclear and conventional capabilities, a claim corroborated by U.S. Department of Defense assessments. 7 It may also be capable of striking naval targets at sea in addition to its land-attack role.8 However, the PLA has not publicly reported a successful test of the ASBM variant against a moving target at sea.9
2017 Missile Test
On May 9, 2017, the Information Bureau of China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) released a press statement acknowledging that the PLA Rocket Force conducted an operational test of a new missile in the Bohai Sea, and attained “expected results.”10 While the missile type remains unconfirmed, several Chinese military analysts speculate that it was likely some variant (possibly antiship) of the DF-26.11 According to one Hong Kong-based military analyst, the missile was likely launched from a northwestern province, probably from either Xinjiang or Gansu province.12 Other analysis, however, suggest that the missile tested could have been China’s newer JL-3 SLBM.
The DF-26 is a road-mobile, two-stage solid-fueled IRBM with an antiship variant possibly also in development.13 According to Chinese sources, the missile measures 14 m in length, 1.4 m in diameter, and has a launch weight of 20,000 kg.14 The missile has a range of 3,000-4,000 km, putting major U.S. military facilities, including those in Guam, within striking distance. The DF-26 comes with a “modular design,” meaning that the launch vehicle can accommodate two types of nuclear warheads and several types of conventional warheads.15 The accuracy of the DF-26 is uncertain, with speculators estimating the CEP at intermediate range between 150-450 meters.16
The DF-26 is transported and fired from a Chinese-built HTF5680 12X12 Transporter Erector Launcher.
DF-26 Service History
- Jordan Wilson, “China’s Expanding Ability to Conduct Conventional Missile Strikes on Guam,” U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, May 10, 2016, 8, https://www.uscc.gov/Research/china%E2%80%99s-expanding-ability-conduct-conventional-missile-strikes-guam.
- IHS Jane’s 360, “Eurosatory 2016: Regional Focus, Asia Pacific,” June 16, 2016, http://www.janes.com/article/61438/regional-focus-asia-pacific-es2016d4.
- Jordan Wilson, 8.
- Andrew S. Erickson, “Panel I: China’s Hypersonic and Maneuverable Re-Entry Vehicle Programs,” Testimony before Hearing on China’s Advanced Weapons, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, February 23, 2017, 2, https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Erickson_Testimony.pdf.
- Anthony H. Cordesman, “China’s Nuclear Forces and Weapons of Mass Destruction (Working Draft),” Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 20, 2016, 26, https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/160720_China_Nuclear_Weapons_Report.pdf.
- IHS Jane’s 360.
- “Showtime: China Reveals Two ‘Carrier-Killer’ Missiles,” The National Interest, September 3, 2015, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/showtime-china-reveals-two-carrier-killer-missiles-13769?page=show.
- “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2017,” Department of Defense, May 15, 2017, 31, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2017_China_Military_Power_Report.PDF?ver=2017-06-06-141328-770#page=49.
- Jordan Wilson, 8.
- “PLA Rocket Force Test-fires New-type Missile Weapons,” China Ministry of National Defense, May 9, 2017, http://eng.mod.gov.cn/news/2017-05/09/content_4780122.htm.
- “China Says It Successfully Tests New Type of Missile,” Defense News, May 10, 2017, https://www.defensenews.com/land/2017/05/10/china-says-it-successfully-tests-new-type-of-missile/; “China’s Missile Tests in Bohai ‘Aimed at THAAD,’” South China Morning Post, May 10, 2017, http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2093711/chinas-missile-tests-bohai-aimed-thaad-south-korea.
- South China Morning Post.
- “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat 2017,” National Air and Space Intelligence Center, June 2017, http://www.nasic.af.mil/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=F2VLcKSmCTE%3D&portalid=19.
- “东风-26弹道导弹：世界首屈一指中远程弹道导弹,” 军事新闻中心, September 3, 2015, http://military.china.com.cn/2015-09/03/content_36491162.htm.
- Jordan Wilson, 8.
- IISS, “Chapter Six: Asia,” in The Military Balance 2017 (February 13, 2017), 279.
- Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Worldwide Deployments of Nuclear Weapons, 2017,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 73, no. 5, August 31, 2017, 290, https://doi.org/10.1080/00963402.2017.1363995.