DF-11

The Dong Feng-11 (DF-11, M-11, or CSS-7) is a road-mobile, conventionally-armed, single-stage short-range ballistic missile (SRBM). The DF-11A is in service with the PLA Rocket Force.

  • PLA designation: Dong Feng-11 (DF-11)
  • Export name: M-11
  • NATO code name: CSS-7
  • Type: Short-range ballistic missile
  • Manufacturer: CASIC 4th Academy / Sanjiang Space Group Co.
  • Payload: Single conventional
  • Range: 280—350 km (DF-11); >500 km (DF-11A)
  • Propulsion: Single-stage solid (HTTB)
  • Guidance: Inertial + Terminal radar
  • Basing: Road-mobile on transporter-erector-launcher (TEL)
  • In service: 1998
  • Status: Operational

Programme

DF-11 Development

The DF-11 development began in 1985 as China’s first conventionally-armed tactical ballistic missile system. The missile resembles some features of the Soviet/Russian Scud missile family, including the MAZ-543 cross-country 8×8 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL). However, unlike the liquid-fuelled Scud, the DF-11 utilises a solid-fuelled propulsion, which is much easier to maintain and requires less preparation time prior to launch.

The missile and its 8×8 TEL vehicle were demonstrated to the PLA in 1987, and the first test launch of the missile took place in 1990. The DF-11 is fully compliant with the requirements of the 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which restricts the export of delivery systems and related technology for those systems capable of carrying more than 500 kg payload over a range of 300 km or above. The export name of the DF-11 was M-11, and the missile was referred to by NATO as the CSS-7.

Early variant DF-11

DF-11 Export

In 1992 US satellites provided images showing M-11 missile canisters being delivered at Sargodha air base near Lahore, Pakistan. The Clinton administration concluded that China may have already transferred the M-11 missile system and its technology to Pakistan, though no direct evidence was provided. In August 1993 the US announced its sanction against China for selling missile components to Pakistan that were barred under the MTCR. As a result of this sanction, US-made sensitive high-tech equipment and components were banned from being sold to China, and Chinese space industry were banned from launching US-made commercial satellites for foreign customers. This sanction was lifted in 1994.

As the plan to purchase the M-11 for a quick deployment failed under the U.S. pressure, Pakistan developed the Ghaznavi missile system independently in the late 1990s on the basis of the M-11 technology. It later also introduced the Shaheen-I, which also resembles the M-11 but with an extended range of 500—750 km.

A further 30 to 50 missiles and TEL vehicles may have been delivered to Iran in 1995 with the objective of setting up a final assembly and maybe even full production capability, but this report cannot be confirmed. It is possible that Iran may obtained some M-11 missile technology from other sources to develop its own solid-fuel mobile missile system. Iran has since then developed its own indigenous SRBM systems which resembles the M-11.

DF-11A

The development of an improved variant designated DF-11A in 1993 under PLA funding. In addition to extending the range to over 500 km, the DF-11A is highlighted by its greater accuracy achieved by using a combined INS/GPS guidance system. The first test launch of the DF-11A took place on 6 October 1997. However, during the second test launch few days after, the missile lost control shortly after take-off. The failure caused some delay in the DF-11A development. The missile certified for design finalisation in 1998, and was commissioned in service in 1999.

The DF-11A was designed to provide a conventional long-range firepower that fills the gap in firing-range between artillery rocket systems (50—100 km) and a theatre ballistic missile (over 600 km). The missile has been deployed by both the PLA Group Force (with a missile brigade activated in the Nanjing Military Region in the late 1990s) and the PLA Rocket Force. The 2010 U.S. DoD Report to the Congress on the PRC Military Capabilities estimated that some 700—750 DF-11 missiles and 120—140 launcher systems were deployed, most of which were based near the Taiwan Strait.

DF-11A on display during the 1999 military parade
DF-11A in service with the PLA
DF-11A in service with the PLA
DF-11A TEL vehicle

Design

The DF-11 is a road-mobile, single-stage, solid-propellant, short-range ballistic missile system, capable of delivering a 500 kg mass EY-115 high-explosive fragment (HE/FRAG) warhead. In addition, the missile is believed to be also capable of delivering a variety of conventional warheads such as fuel-air explosive (FAE), sub-munitions, and bunker buster. There has been claims that the DF-11 can also carry a 2 to 20 kT-yield nuclear warhead, but this cannot be validated and appears unlikely.

The basic variant DF-11 employs an inertial guidance with terminal radar homing, giving a circular error probability (CEP) of 500 to 600 m. The improved DF-11 is believed to feature an improved guidance package with a greater accuracy of below 200 m CEP. The missile has four large stabilising fins at the bottom as well as four small fins in the mid-section for corrections during the final phase of the flight.

The WS2400 8×8 TEL vehicle was developed by Wanshan Special Vehicle Plant, a subsidiary of the Sanjiang Space Group, resembles the Russian MAZ543 in external appearance. The missile system can be readied for launch within 5 minutes from the travelling mode. The missile is erected about 15 seconds prior to launch. The TEL vehicle of the DF-11A is equipped with a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver using either GPS, GLONASS or Beidou signal, which allows the missile to be launched from any location without requiring pre-survey.

DF-11A launch
DF-11A launch

Specifications

  • Overall length (m): 7.5 (DF-11); 8.5 (DF-11A)
  • Core stage diameter (m): 0.8
  • Take-off mass (kg): 4,200
  • Payload mass (kg): 500

References

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