The PLA Second Artillery Corps, China’s strategic missile force, conducted a second test flight of its DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile on Dec. 13, according to the US website Washington Free Beacon.
The test took place at the Wuzhai missile launch center in northern China’s Shanxi province and follows the first test in July last year. The missile is raising new concerns that Beijing is contemplating abandoning its longstanding nuclear strategy of no first use.
With a range of between 6,835 miles and 7,456 miles, the DF-41 ICBM is considered a serious threat to US national security. US observers believe the weapon will be capable of carrying multiple warheads and claim it could be used to carry out a surprise attack that could knock out an enemy’s arsenal and limit its counterstrike capabilities.
The Pentagon has yet to comment on the missile test, but a report from the US Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASCI) published in May described the development of the DF-41 without mentioning it by name. China has the most active and diverse ballistic missile development program in the world, the NASCI report said. “It is developing and testing offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, qualitatively upgrading missile systems, and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses.”