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China's next-generation multi-nuclear warhead intercontinental ballistic missile with a proclaimed ability to hit targets "anywhere in the world" may be inducted into the People's Liberation Army (PLA) early next year, a media report said on Monday.
The new missile -- the Dongfeng-41 -- also has a speed of more than Mach 10 and can use decoy devices and chaff to pierce its way through the enemy's missile warning and defence systems.
The missile, which underwent another test -- the eighth since it was first announced in 2012, could be in the PLA's line-up as early as the first half of 2018, state-run Global Times said.
The missile must have matured considerably if it is to start serving in the PLA, Xu Guangyu, a senior advisor from the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association said.
The Dongfeng-41 is a three-stage solid-fuel missile with a range of at least 12,000 km, meaning it could strike anywhere in the world from a mainland site, Xu told the Global Times, adding that, "it can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, each of which can target separately."
The South China Morning Post reported that China had possibly tested the ICBM in its Western desert area in early November, but it did not give the exact location or date of the test.
Another report on the seventh test-firing of the Dongfeng-41 came from a US satellite tracking system and appeared in the Washington Free Beacon in April 2016.
Song Zhongping, a Phoenix TV commentator and former member of the PLA's Second Artillery Corps (Rocket Force), is of the view that the Dongfeng-41 is very likely already in service since tests and other checks of missiles can be conducted after deployment as well.
Song said that the deployment of the missile certainly demonstrates China's nuclear deterrence abilities.
"Once the Dongfeng-41 goes into service, China's ability to protect its own safety and to prevent wars would greatly increase," Xu said.
Russian experts feel that the missile's deployment is aimed at the US as it could reach most of America and Europe.
A commentary in Global Times at that time said the deployment of the DF-41 was a "strategic deterrence tool" and Beijing would "ready itself for pressures" imposed by the new US government headed by President Donald Trump.
The PLA Rocket Force on Sunday showed five models of China's homemade conventional and nuclear missiles.
China has a range of missiles, including the Dongfeng-26 ballistic missile, the Dongfeng-21D land-based anti-ship ballistic missile, described as a "carrier killer", and the Dongfeng-16G conventional missile designed for precision strikes against key enemy targets.