China Mobilizes DF-26 Missiles in Response to Warship Passage

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Nuclear, intermediate-range anti-ship missiles shown on television after Navy warship sails S. China Sea

China has mobilized nuclear-capable intermediate-range missiles in response to the passage of a Navy warship near disputed islands in the South China Sea this week, according to state-run Chinese media.

The long-range, anti-ship ballistic missile known as the DF-26—dubbed the “Guam-killer” because of its ability to strike targets on the U.S. western Pacific island—was moved in northwestern China, China Central Television reported Wednesday.

It was the first time the anti-ship ballistic missile was showcased on state television since the weapon was declared operational by China in April.

The television report in Chinese showed a convoy of the road-mobile missiles on roads and at a base in China, as well as in a military parade.

U.S. government and private sector experts said the video showed DF-26 missiles in two different locations: In the Gobi Desert in western China and at a base in central China.

The CCTV report said an unspecified number of DF-26s were mobilized to northwest China plateau and desert areas. The missiles are now capable of conducting road-mobile operations across the country, the report said.

Exactly when the new missiles were mobilized was not disclosed.

However, an unidentified military expert quoted by the Communist Party newspaper Global Times linked the missile mobilization to the recent freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea by the USS McCampbell, a guided missile destroyer.

The expert stated that launching mobile missiles from deep inside Chinese territory is designed to thwart missile defenses.

The newspaper stated that the movement of DF-26s is a reminder that China is capable of safeguarding its territory. “Even when launched from deeper inland areas of China, the DF-26 has a range far-reaching enough to cover the South China Sea,” the expert said.

The McCampbell passed within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea in a bid to establish that the zone around the islands is international waters and not Chinese maritime territory as Beijing claims.

The Pentagon’s latest annual report on the Chinese military described the DF-26 as a formidable weapon.

The PLA’s Southern Theater Command said its naval and air forces challenged the McCampbell and warned it to leave the area.

“We urge the U.S. side to immediately cease such provocative actions,” said Sr. Col. Li Huamin, a command spokesman. “The PLA Southern Theater Command will remain on high alert, closely monitor relevant maritime and air situations, and resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty and security.”

The National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) reported in 2017 that the DF-26 is a two-stage, road-mobile missile.

The center stated in a report that the DF-26 has been described as “one carrier, many warheads.”

The Pentagon annual report said the missile’s maximum range is 2,485 miles—a long distance for a precision-guided missile that requires satellites for navigation.

The missiles at that location also can cover the entire South China Sea, which is about 1,900 miles from Xinyang.

“Although the details are murky, we’re probably seeing launchers from the first operational DF-26 brigade at Xinyang deploying on training in the eastern parts of the Qinghai province,” Kristensen said. “From Xinyang, the DF-26 is capable of targeting Guam, Japan, and most of India.”

The United States has no counterpart to the DF-26 because of adherence to the 1987 U.S.-Russian Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

President Trump announced last year that the United States is withdrawing from the INF treaty that bans intermediate-range missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,400 miles because of Russian violations of the treaty.

Moscow has deployed a new SSC-8 ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the accord.

Full article: China Mobilizes DF-26 Missiles in Response to Warship Passage (Washington Free Beacon)

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