The Chinese PLA Rocket Force recently launched a DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missile in an ongoing months-long exercise, after the United States “provocatively” sent two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea (SCS) in July.
The US exercise with two carriers was followed up with joint naval drills with India, Japan and Australia in the Indian Ocean and Philippine Sea respectively “in an attempt to contain China,” an article in pro-Chinese government newspaper, Global Times read.
Capable of striking moving targets at sea, the DF-26 has been dubbed an "aircraft carrier killer," and its exercise launch again demonstrated its deterrence and China's firm will in safeguarding national sovereignty and security, the newspaper said quoting ‘experts’ on Thursday.
Giving details of the missile firing, the report said a PLA Rocket Force missile brigade recently started a “cross-regional confrontational exercise,” as they manoeuvred through forests, simulated hostile chemical attacks, disguised the missile vehicles to avoid satellite detection and reached a desert area, where the troops received the order to launch a DF-26 missile.
This is probably the first launch of a DF-26 launch during a military exercise. In January 2019, the launch of a DF-26 was shown to the general public in a China Central Television report for the first time.
The report did not elaborate on the trajectory of the missile and whether it hit a sea target. The DF-26 has an effective anti-ship range of about 400-500 km. At longer distances it is susceptible to anti-missile systems such as the land based Patriot and sea based Aegis which is available with South Korea and Japan.
The US has recently stationed the THAAD anti-missile system in its naval base at Guam in the Pacific.
Using stronger than usual language, Song Zhongping, an oft quoted Chinese military expert said, “the live-fire DF-26 exercises showed that the US cannot use aircraft carriers to intervene in China's internal affairs and threaten China's national security anymore.”
"The US should fully understand that the PLA is not what it was in 1995 or 1996 … China has the capability to make the US lose its aircraft carriers, and this is a key deterrent China should display," said Song.
If launched from the South China Sea islands or the some parts of the mainland, it can reach US military facilities in Guam, Darwin and Diego Garcia, the report estimated.