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Ryan Pickrell

China rattles missiles as tensions with America rise

Chinese media touted the mobilization of a "far-reaching, anti-ship ballistic missile" Jan. 10, 2019, specifically highlighting its ability to target ships in the South China Sea.

China's DF-26 ballistic missile has reportedly been mobilized in northwestern China, according to the Global Times, citing state broadcaster China Central Television. The weapon, commonly described as a "carrier killer," is an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear warheads to targets on land and at sea.


The report from the Global Times notes that the activation of the DF-26 comes just "after a US warship trespassed into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands (Paracel Islands) in the South China Sea on Jan. 7, 2019," a reference to a legal freedom-of-navigation operation conducted by destroyer USS McCampbell.

"We urge the United States to immediately cease this kind of provocation," the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response, accusing the US of having "gravely infringed upon China's sovereignty."

The USS McCampbell.

"We will be on high alert and will closely monitor the air and sea situation to strongly defend our sovereignty and security," the ministry spokesman added.

September 2018, a Chinese destroyer attempted to intercept a US warship during a freedom-of-navigation operation in the Spratly Islands, risking a collision. It was the Chinese navy's most aggressive response to US actions in the South China Sea to date.

The DF-26 missiles mobilized in the northwest regions are far from the South China Sea, but Chinese military experts assert that it has the range to cover the contested waterway. "Even when launched from deeper inland areas of China, the DF-26 has a range far-reaching enough to cover the South China Sea," an anonymous expert told the Global Times. The missile is believed to have a range of about 3,400 miles.

That expert added that missiles fired from the interior are harder to intercept because they can realistically only be intercepted in the terminal phase.

Amid Chinese bravado, there remains skepticism about the DF-26 missile's ability to serve in an anti-ship role. The weapon was previously nicknamed the "Guam Killer" or the "Guam Express," as it offers China the ability to strike Andersen Air Force Base, a key US base in the Pacific, with force.

The article in the Global Times reflects an aggressive tone that is becoming more common in Chinese discussions.

Recently, a retired Chinese admiral suggested sinking two US aircraft carriers, which would end the lives of roughly 10,000 American sailors. "What the United States fears the most is taking casualties," Rear Adm. Luo Yuan said. "We'll see how frightened America is."

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.