PLA Rocket Force Launches DF-26 'Aircraft Carrier Killer' Missile in Fast-Reaction Drills
(Source: Global Times; issued Aug 06, 2020)
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force recently launched a DF-26 intermediate-range anti-ship ballistic missile in an ongoing months-long exercise, after the US provocatively sent two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea for exercises and held joint naval drills with India, Japan and Australia in the Indian Ocean and Philippine Sea respectively in an attempt to contain China.

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, experts said on Thursday.

A PLA Rocket Force missile brigade recently started a cross-regional confrontational exercise, as they maneuvered through complicated terrains such as forests, simulated hostile chemical attacks, disguised missile vehicles to avoid satellite detection and reached a desert area, where the troops received the order to launch a DF-26 missile, Chinese media reported over the past week.

The exercises honed the fast-reaction capabilities of the Rocket Force troops, and this kind of mission will continue in the next one to two months, CCTV reported.

Chinese military observers noted that this is a rare demonstration of a DF-26 launch. 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.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday that the latest drills demonstrated that the DF-26 has gained a stronger capability in real combat scenarios, including cross-regional maneuvering, and is not dependent on a preset launch site.

Defense Ministry spokesperson, Senior Colonel Wu Qian said at a press conference in April 2018 that the DF-26 had been commissioned into the Rocket Force, and the missile can carry conventional or nuclear warheads and is capable of launching precision strikes on land targets and medium and large vessels at sea.

Song said that the DF-26 and the DF-21D, which can also target warships but at shorter range, have given the PLA the ability to effectively attack aircraft carriers at far and close ranges.

In July, two US aircraft carriers provocatively sailed into the South China Sea for exercises, after which they held joint exercises with India in the Indian Ocean and Australia and Japan in the Philippine Sea, which Chinese experts called US attempts to collude with other countries to contain China.

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, Song said, noting that "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, and can show China's firm determination in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The DF-26 has an estimated range of 4,500 kilometers, according to a report by Chinese news site china.com.cn in 2015. This means it should be able to cover many regions of the vast waters in the West Pacific and Indian Ocean, and reach US military facilities in Guam, Darwin and Diego Garcia, the report estimated.

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