Fort Bragg. America's Airborne Elite by Mike Verier

By Mike Verier

Takes a behind-the-scenes examine the day by day occasions at this army airfield.

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The JL-1 programme started in 1967 but the first test launch was not until 1982, and the missiles became operational in 1987 onboard the first Xia-class submarine. The road mobile DF-21 was first test launched in 1985 and is believed to have entered service in 1987. A modification programme was started in 1986 to increase the range and this version is known as DF-21A. Two DF-21 missiles were launched at sea targets close to Taiwan in July 1995 with ranges of about 1,600 km and appeared to be successful.

Other sources indicate that it could hit targets throughout the Western US along a line running south-west from Wisconsin through California. China Central Television in August 1999, quoted a Lt. General Yuan Yunzhi of the PLA's Academy of Military Sciences as saying that the DF-31 is capable of hitting Seattle, Washington if launched from China's north-east Heilongjiang Province, Australia if launched from Guangdong Province, Africa if launched from the north-eastern provinces, and targets throughout Europe if launched from the north-western Xinjiang Province.

The operational requirement was to deliver a payload of 3,000 kg over a range of 12,000 km to reach major US cities. The first test flight was made in 1971, the first silo launch in 1979, full range flight tests in 1980, and the first missiles became operational in 1981. The Chinese developed the Long March 2 (LM-2, CZ-2) series of space launch vehicles (SLV) from the DF-5, with the first launch of a LM-2 being made in 1975. The LM-2 has become the workhorse launcher of the Chinese satellite programme with over 20 launches.

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