China released footage of the “Guam Killer” Dong Feng-26 ballistic missile in a report by state-owned broadcaster CCTV. The footage of the next-gen ballistic missile is a “clear message to the US,” according to a South China Morning Post report.
The DF-26 reportedly has improved stability and accuracy. Four fin-like flight control surfaces are seen around the missile nose in the report on an exercise in northwest China. The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force launched at least one DF-26 missile during the drill.
The intermediate-range ballistic missile is also known as the “Guam killer” for its range – 3,000km to 5,741km (1,864 to 3,567 miles) – that puts the US island in the western Pacific within striking distance.
SCMP cited Adam Ni, a China researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, according to whom the latest exercise was “a clear message to the US about China’s growing missile capability, and that it can hold at risk US strategic assets, such as carriers and bases”.
“It’s an attempt to reinforce the notion that the PLA has the capability to sink US carriers and inflict unacceptable damage on American forces,” Ni said.
“Within the context of increasing strategic competition and tension between the two countries, the latest drills are just another signal to the US about the prevails of escalation, including by intervening militarily in support of Taiwan against China … We are likely to see more [of these drills] if bilateral relations worsen.”
SCMP also cited Zhang Baohui, a director of the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, said the drill was about deterrence amid rising tensions in the region.
“China has repeatedly stated that the missile can hit moving targets like ships,” Zhang said. “While the overall probability of war between the US and China remains very low, Beijing is nonetheless concerned by recent changes in the dynamics of Sino-US relations. The public debut of the DF-26 could mean enhancing its general deterrence.”
Some background on the ballistic missile was provided by the Asia Times:
“The DF-26 is deployed on a transporter-erector-launcher and the US Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center estimates that as of June 2017, more than 16 launchers were operationally deployed along a number of coastal provinces from Zhejiang and Fujian all the way to Guangdong.
There have also been rumors that the DF-26 may also have been installed on the Beijing-controlled Scarborough Shoal, also known as Huangyan Island, in the eastern portion of the South China Sea.
Information on the DF-26 since its media debut at a 2015 military parade show that the versatile missiles can look for and lock onto moving targets onshore and offshore, such as an aircraft carrier, while cruising at a top speed of up to 18 times the speed of sound after re-entry into the atmosphere.”