Jeffrey LewisMissiles on Parade

October 1 is the Sixtieth Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. You know what that means: Silly hats!

And, of course, missiles on parade!

Apparently, this year the wonkporn factor will be higher than average. Kang Juan, writing in Global Times, quotes an anonymous source as claiming that China will showcase five new types of missiles in the October 1 National Day Parade:

China will showcase five new types of domestically designed missiles at the October 1 National Day parade, a leading missile expert from the Second Artillery Force, revealed yesterday.

A number of advanced weapons of air and sea forces will also be on display, other sources said.

Five types of missiles, including nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, conventional cruise missiles and medium-range and short-range conventional missiles, will be displayed for the first time at the highly anticipated military parade, said the expert, who asked to remain anonymous and has been closely following the preparations of the strategic force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“These missiles are domestically designed and manufactured and have never been officially reported before,” he said, adding that they belong to a second generation of missiles that have already been distributed to the military and are ready for operation.

He declined to disclose the model numbers of the missiles, citing state-secrecy reasons.

Global Times is state-run media, though that phrase obscures important, evolving distinctions with, say, Xinhua or China Daily.

From the context, “new” seems ambiguous. It seems, for example, that they are counting the DF-31, which did parade in 1999.

Update | 1:35 pm China Defense Blog reposted some photos from the rehearsal with this ORBAT (more).

Vehicle Squadron No. 26 DF-15 Mod
Vehicle Squadron No. 27 DF-11 Mod
Vehicle Squadron No. 28 DH-10 LACM
Vehicle Squadron No. 29 DF-21C
Vehicle Squadron No. 30 DF- 41

Obviously, there is a little discussion about whether the designation is DF-41 or DF-31.

Lovely shot of a DF-21 Charlie:

Update | 12 September 2009 6:39 pm

Reader RAJ47 correctly points out that I put a picture of a DF-21 canister up:

The first image is DF-21(1999 National Day Parade – X00- series, note the six axels of the TEL) and not DF-31. The DF-31 displayed was Y00- series, an eight axel TEL. It can be seen here and here. But lets wait for 01 October and the DF-41.

Sorry, I was looking at the silly hats, instead of the TEL and canister where I should have. You people are scary-good.


  1. Gregory Kulacki (History)

    Global Times is the Chinese version of the Washington Times. They may be on the mark here, but they miss more often than they make. Having been misquoted there on numerous occasions, I’d take any “analysis” or “commentary” published there with a whole mine of salt.

  2. JK (History)

    Agree with Gregory Kulacki’s comment on Global Times, and that newspaper is one Chinese media that misquoted international experts actively, victims include Geoff Forden.

    Pictures here show something really supports Dr Jeffrey Lewis’s DF-21C identification:

    But I still wonder whether it, with an entirely new TEL vehicle, could be DF-21D, because it is so far the only Chinese missile that has a TEL with pipes on it (leads to the canister).

    Geoff Forden’s earlier comments regarding a possible guidance system “against a mobile—ether land- or sea-based—target” are very revealing.

  3. RAJ47
  4. somebody

    Can you explain the meaning of “silly hats”?

  5. Stephen Young (History)

    Re: Silly hats, somebody should look closely at the first photo.

  6. RAJ47

    You have neither corrected the image nor the caption.
    You have also not commented on my comments.
    If I am wrong please do correct me.

  7. Jeffrey Lewis (History)


    Apologies — you are correct.

    I had my wedding reception over the weekend and family in town.


  8. RAJ47

    The has changed the linked image. They have put a DF-21 to confuse us all further.

  9. JK (History)

    We may see the DF-31A this time.

    Please look at those DF-31/DF-31A TEL, and compare the “manual boxes” (? containing input panels) on the semi-trailer.

    I also combined one screenshot of a CCTV-7 program, showing the simulation equipment for DF-31 “manual boxes”.

    It seems that DF-31 was displayed during the 1999 Parade, and the simulation equipment had the same configuration. Now we may have a different missile, DF-31A, with a new “manual boxes” configuration.

    Or, it is simply because a new TEL vehicle is used for the same DF-31 missile…