Images of mobile launchers posted on the Internet last week could provide confirmation of the long-suspected deployment of the Dong Feng 16 (DF-16), China’s most recent medium-range ballistic missile.
The pictures, which were taken at an undisclosed location, showed a pair of 5x5 wheeled transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicles surmounted by wide, half-oval-shaped covers for the missile ramp, driving in an urban area. In three of the pictures seen by the Taipei Times, street signs had been digitally blurred out.
News of a potential new class of Dong Feng missile emerged in March last year when National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) told the legislature that the Chinese military had completed testing the DF-16 and begun its deployment. The revelation caught the intelligence community by surprise and sparked debate on whether China had in fact developed a new class of missile or that what Tsai was referring to was simply an extended-range variant of the DF-15 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).
Analysts said at the time that the DF-16 could have maneuverable capability to counter air-defense systems, such as Taiwan’s PAC-3s, with the higher re-entry speed associated with its higher ascent making it more difficult to intercept.
Up until now, little news concerning a DF-16 has emerged, though defense analysts agree that it would make sense for the Chinese military to develop a medium-range missile to fill the gap between the DF-11 and DF-15 SRBMs — most of which are directed at Taiwan — and the long-range DF-21.
The TELs seen in the images that came out last week have larger missile ramp covers, which would indicate the presence of a missile larger than the DF-15.
Although the location where the pictures were taken has yet to be confirmed, Mark Stokes of the Project 2049 Institute, an expert on the People’s Liberation Army’s Second Artillery Corps, speculates that the DF-16 could be deployed at 52 Base 827 Brigade (Unit 91166) in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province. The location of the base, added to the missile’s suspected 1,000km to 1,200km range, could make 91166 a “swing unit,” with the ability to target not just Taiwan, but as China starts flexing its muscles within the region, also serve as a deterrent in the South China Sea and Vietnam, more specifically.
TOO TIRED: Investigators found that the pilot’s lack of alertness could be attributed to a lack of sleep the previous night, when he had slept with his child It was a copilot’s inappropriate operation of the aircraft and the pilot’s insufficient alertness that led to a hard landing of a China Airlines cargo flight on Dec. 13, 2018, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Flight CI6844, a Boeing 747-409 which departed from Hong Kong International Airport, landed on the pre-threshold area of runway L5 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, about 21m before the head of the runway, an investigation report said. The hard landing damaged three runway lights, but none of the personnel on board sustained any injuries, the report said. When approaching the runway, the copilot failed to maintain
DISTRUST WARRANTED? The WHO is under China’s control and has become a useless organization, while data from China cannot be trusted, a Control Yuan member said China’s demand that the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, not be referred to with names like the “Wuhan pneumonia” betrays its lack of confidence in itself, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told lawmakers yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) asked Su, during a interpellation at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, for his view on China’s attempts to redeem its national image in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time
REPEAT OFFENDER: The man went outside for exercise on Wednesday and then left his home on Saturday with his girlfriend, officials said A New Taipei City man has been fined NT$400,000 (US$13,221) and ordered into government quarantine after breaking home quarantine for a second time on Saturday. The 25-year-old man, surnamed Chen (陳) returned to Taiwan on Sunday last week and was ordered to home quarantine until Sunday. He was seen leaving his home on a scooter with his girlfriend on Saturday, three days after he was fined NT$200,000 for going outside to exercise, police said. Chen has now been placed in a quarantine center arranged by the district office and health center of the district where he lives, police said. Police warned the public
Taipei residents who stay at hotels in the city during their 14-day mandatory quarantine period are eligible to apply for the city’s NT$7,000 subsidy, with online applications to be launched next week. Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) on Monday said Taipei residents who have COVID-19 Health Declaration and Home Quarantine Notice dated after March 19 and a quarantine hotel receipt for the dates covered by the quarantine period, would be eligible for the subsidy. The Taipei City Government on Sunday told the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) that so many city residents are under home quarantine that about 90 percent of