Chinese DongFeng 31A (CSS-9) Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

The DongFeng 31A (NATO reporting name: CSS-9 Mod-2) is a road-mobile, three-stage, solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), designed to carry a single 1,000kT thermal nuclear warhead.

The missile was developed from the DongFeng 31 (CSS-9), with extended range and improved performance. About 10 DongFeng 31A missiles have been deployed by the PLA Second Artillery Corps since 2006~07 to supplement its silo-based DongFeng 5 (CSS-4) ICBM. A submarine-launched ballistic missile JuLang 2 is also being developed based on the DongFeng 31 technology.

The DongFeng 31A offers a number of technological and operational advantages over older Chinese missiles such as DF-4 (CSS-3). Instead of being launched from a fixed location, the DongFeng 31A can be transported on its transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle to one of many predetermined launch sites, giving greater survivability in the event of a first strike.

The use of solid propellant gives the missile a longer service lifespan and shorter launch preparation time compared to the liquid fuel ICBMs.

The DongFeng 31A is said to be armed with a lightweight warhead allegedly copied from the U.S. W-88 or W-70 warhead designs, though so far no sound evidence has been found to support this claim.

Furthermore, the DongFeng 31A is believed to have incorporated many advanced technologies similar to current generation Russian ICBMs, including the use of penetration aids such as decoys or chaffs to complicate enemy’s missile warning and defence system.


Official name: DongFeng 31A (DF-31A)
NATO reporting name: CSS-9 Mod-2
Contractor: CASIC 4th Academy
Service status: In service
Configuration: Three-stage, solid propellant
Deployment: Road mobile, 8X8 tractor truck + 8-wheel trailer; or silo
Length: 13m
Body diameter: 2.25m
Launch weight: 42,000kg
Range: 10,700~11,200km
Re-entry vehicle mass: 700kg (or 1,050~1,750kg)
Warhead: One single 1,000kT yield
Guidance: Inertial + stellar update
Accuracy: 100~300m CEP
Launch preparation time: 15~30 min