The Chinese DF-15 short-range ballistic missile (also known by its NATO designation, CSS-6, and is exported to other countries as the M-9) is most similar to the US Pershing I-A missile system. It has twice the range of the smaller DF-11 (600 km), and carries a payload of about 500-950 kg (depending on sources). The "DF" prefix is short for "dong feng" or "east wind" - used for almost all of their larger missile systems.*

It uses a strapdown inertial guidance system on the warhead (a series of small thrusters attached to the warhead itself guides it on its downward trajectory). The rest of the missile is designed to disintegrate after separation, the bits of metal providing radar camouflage for the small warhead. It is estimated that the warhead should have a terminal velocity of over Mach 6, giving it bunker-busting capabilities against underground facilities.

It may have been upgraded with a GPS-based gyroscopic inertial guidance system, which should increase its accuracy to 30-40 meters from ground zero, as opposed to the current 280 meters.

The DF-15 first appeared in the Beijing Defense Exhibition in 1988. It has been launched in missile tests in waters off Taiwan twice, 6-7 launches in 1995, and 4 launches in 1996, in an effort to influence elections and dissuade the ROC from voting to continue their independence. Experts noted that these launches into specific areas demonstrated a higher degree of accuracy than previous Chinese capability.

It is estimated that there were around 200 DF-15s deployed in the Jiangxi and Fujian provinces by 1999 (the most numerous of China's nuclear-capable missiles), with about 50 more produced each year.

China also sells these missiles (as the M-9) to other countries; India alleges that several have been sold to Pakistan, along with confirmed sales of several M-11s in 1991. It is unknown if any of these M-9s are nuclear-capable.

Current Missile News (
Center for Nonproliferation Studies (

*thanks to Grzcyrgba for the meaning of "DF".

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