Tel Aviv: In the discussions following the recent summit between the leaders of China and Saudi Arabia, a major arms deal is taking shape and according to Middle Eastern sources will include the Chinese DF-41 long range ballistic missile.
The proposed deal has not surprised sources in Israel as the increased tension between Saudi Arabia and the US brought Riyadh to look to diversify the sources for advanced weapon systems.
The DF-41 is Chinese road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It has an operational range of up to 15,000 km, making it China’s longest-range missile, and is reportedly capable of loading multiple independently-targeted warheads (MIRV).
The Chinese-made intercontinental ballistic missile (DF-41 ICBM) was revealed to the public for the first time during the Chinese military parade held in Beijing on October 1, 2019, in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.
The DF-41 appears to resemble the Russian-made Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile, known to NATO as the SS-27.
In January 2017, the Chinese newspaper Global Time reported that the DF-41 is now in service with China’s armed forces and deployed near the Sino-Russian border.
Saudi Arabia had purchased Chinese ballistic missiles in the 80s in spite of an American opposition.
The Saudis secretly bought roughly ten launchers and a number of Chinese DF-3A missiles (referred to as CSS-2 by NATO), which were modified to carry conventional payloads. The missiles were kept in working order by Chinese experts and stationed at various locations throughout Saudi Arabia. Because the missiles were originally designed to carry nuclear warheads, the covert purchase caused a crisis in relations between Riyadh and Washington. When Saudi Arabia agreed to join the NPT, the problem was resolved.
These missiles have been upgraded a few times but the Saudis, according to sources have indicated their will to deploy new ballistic missiles.
According to the Israeli sources, the fact that Iran is galloping to a nuclear bomb is worrying Riyadh. The advancement of Iran’s missile program and the expansion and development of its ground-to-ground missile arsenal are the driving forces behind the Saudis’ decision to buy the weapons.
Now Saudi Arabia plans to purchase Chinese made weapon systems including new very advanced ballistic missiles.