Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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South Korea and Japan now Threatened by China’s DF-16 Ballistic Missiles

Japan and South Korea in its cross hairs

(Photo : PLARF) DF-16 on its TEL.

The People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) is aiming an increasing number of its road mobile DF-16 medium range ballistic missile (MRBM) launchers at Japan, South Korea and the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Most of the operational DF-16 are deployed in Guangdong province across the Taiwan Strait and are aimed at Taiwan. PLARF conducted a series of training exercises involving its short range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) and MRBMs such as the DF-16 deployed against Taiwan during the Chinese New Year last Jan. 28.

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DF-16 launchers in northern Guangdong might be used to attack air defenses, runways and unhardened command and control facilities of the Republic of China Armed Forces in the event of a cross strait invasion by the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

The Taiwanese government of President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly warned China might attempt an invasion of their country before 2020.

DF-16, which entered service only in 2015, now also threatens military bases of the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) and the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (ROKAF), as well as bases occupied by the United States Armed Forces in these two countries, said the People's Liberation Army website quoting American media.

The DF-16 can bombard all of South Korea if deployed to Liaoning province bordering North Korea to the northeast, or to Jilin province immediately across the border from North Korea. DF-16 has a range of 1,600 km and carries a 1,500 high explosive warhead.

If deployed to launch sites in Fujian province to the southwest of Japan or to Zhejiang province to the north of Fujian, the DF-16 can be used to attack JSDF and U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

The DF-16 made its debut at a military parade in Beijing in September 2015. PLARF seems to place great faith in the DF-16, saying this MRBM "poses a challenge to foreign military installations along the First Island Chain," which is how the PLA describes the series of islands that stretch from Japan in the north to Taiwan and the Philippines to the south.

State media also revealed the DF-16's strike range fills the gap that previously existed with the absence of a medium-range ballistic missile in the PLA's arsenal. 

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