DongFeng 15 (CSS-6) Short-Range Ballistic Missile
The DongFeng 15 (Export name: M-9; NATO codename: CSS-6) is a solid-fuel, short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) system developed by CASC China Academy of Rocket Motor Technology (ARMT, also known as 4th Space Academy). The missile became famous during the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis when the PLA launched several missiles as a warning to Taiwan’s independent trend. It is the only non-nuclear missile in service with the PLA Second Artillery Corps (strategic missile force). The improved variants DongFeng 15B and DongFeng 15C were spotted in service with the PLA recently.
The DongFeng 15 SRBM development began in 1985, and the design proposal was approved by the PLA in 1987. The first test launch took place in June 1987. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, a range of test launches were conducted in the Gobi Desert in the northwest region of China. Some reports claimed that at least one of these test launches was carried using a nuclear warhead, but this cannot be confirmed. The missile was displayed in the 1988 Beijing International Defence Exhibition. It is believed that a small number had already entered service with the PLA Second Artillery Corps as early as 1989.
DongFeng 15B TEL vehicle (Chinese Internet)
The DongFeng 15 missile has been frequently spotted in PLA exercises since the mid-1990s.The 2007 US DoD Report to the Congress estimated that the current deployment of the DongFeng 15 missile is 300~350 missiles and 70~80 launcher systems. Although the missile was also given an export name M-9, it was never exported to any other country. The is mainly due to the restrictions of the he Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which forbids the export of delivery systems and related technology for those systems capable of carrying more than 500kg payload over a range of 300km or above.
The DongFeng 15 is a road-mobile, single-stage, solid-propellant, short-range ballistic missile system. The missile carries a 500kg single warhead and has a maximum range of 600km. Compared to China’s first generation liquid-propellant surface-to-surface missiles, the use of more advanced solid-fuel motor has significantly reduced the maintaining and pre-launch preparing time.
Basic variant DongFeng 15 (Chinese Internet)
The missile is launched from a TAS5450 or WS2400 8X8 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle to provide full road and cross-country mobility. In time of crisis the missile system could be quickly mobilised from bases to launch locations by railway. The TEL vehicle then carries the missile to the launch site with pre-calculated coordinate data.
Alternatively the missile can be launched from a unprepared new location by using GPS to obtain coordinate data. To increase the missile’s survivability in the combat, the support units could generate smoke to prevent it from being spotted by the enemy’s air-/space-based reconnaissance and surveillance systems. Mock missiles and TELs may also be deployed nearby as camouflage.
The DongFeng 15 can carry a single nuclear warhead, though the missile was designed mainly for the use in a conventional war. It has a range of warhead types including high-explosive, high-explosive incendiary, and armour-piercing cluster. Other warhead types under development include mine-laying, electromagnetic shockwave, and low-yield nuclear deep-penetration. With a terminal velocity of over Mach 6, the missile is difficult to intercept with any existing missile defence technology.
At least two improved variants of the DongFeng 15 missile have been identified. The DongFeng 15B is fitted with four small fins at midsection for corrections at the final phase of the flight, while the DongFeng 15C has a cylinder shape second-stage possibly for extended range.
DongFeng 15C with extended second stage (Chinese Internet)
The missile uses the inertial guidance, coupled to a faster on-board computer system to give a high accuracy. The early model has a circular error probable (CEP) of 300~600m, but various improvements on the guidance system has increased the accuracy of the missile to CEP 150~500m. This indicated that the PLA has already possessed the capability of launching a conventional precise-strike in the initial stage of the war to destroy enemy’s command & control centre, air defence missile sites, and airports.
China has also been reportedly seeking to further improve the accuracy of the DongFeng 15 missile by integrating it with the global positioning system (GPS) or a similar indigenously-developed satellite-based navigation and positing system. A terminal radar-guidance system is also under development. With both system onboard the missile’s accuracy may increase to CEP 35~50m.
1995/96 Missile Tests
The PLA conducted two DongFeng 15 tests near the Taiwan Strait in 1995 and 1996 respectively. The New China News Agency announced the test launches shortly before they took place, and warned foreign aeroplanes and ships to avoid entering the target zones. During the first test launch taking place from 21 to 23 July 1995, a total of six missiles were launched from an unknown location in Fujian Province. All missiles were launched between 01:00 to 04:00 hours local time in the early morning to avoid hitting civilian aircraft and ships accidentally. 5 out of 6 missiles reportedly hit the target zone in the public water northwest of Taiwan.
The second test launch took place in March 1996, with two target zones set in the public waters southwest and east of Taiwan respectively. In the early morning (00:00 local time) on 8 March, two missiles were launched almost simultaneously from two launch sites, and both hit two target zones. At around 01:00 local time, another missile was launched from one of the launch vehicles which were involved in the earlier launches to demonstrate its rapid reloading capability. On 12 March the fourth missile was launched and hit the scheduled target zone.
According to the US Navy intelligence, the missile launch and support troops involved in this operation were mobilised from their base in Jiangxi Province to the launch sites over a distance of several hundred kilometres, 60 hours prior to the scheduled launch time. About 20~30 DongFeng 15 missile systems took part in the operation.
- 815 Brigade
- 816 Brigade
- 817 Brigade
- 818 Brigade
- 819 Brigade
- 820 Brigade
Official name: DongFeng 15 (DF-15)
Export name: M-9
NATO reporting name: CSS-6
Contractor: CASIC 4th Academy
Service status: In service
Configuration: Single-stage (DF-15) or two-stage (DF-15B, DF-15C), solid propellant
Deployment: Road mobile, 6X6 tractor truck + six-wheel trailer; or silo
Length: 9.1m (DF-15)
Launch weight: 6,200kg
Warhead: 500kg HE
Range: 600km (DF-15)
Guidance: Inertial + GPS
Accuracy: CEP 150~500m; or 30~50m on the later variants
Launch preparation time: 15~30 min
Last update: 3 October 2009