South China Sea Missile Test a Reminder That China Rules the Waves — With Ballistic Missiles
South China Sea Missile Test a Reminder That China Rules the Waves — With Ballistic Missiles by Joseph Trevithick for Check Point Asia
Instead of pouding Gobi sand China for the first time fires the “Guam Killer” missile into the South China Sea
China has reportedly carried out at least one anti-ship ballistic missile test in the hotly contested South China Sea as part of a larger exercise. If true, it would bethe first time the Chinese military has carried out this kind of activity in this region that we know of and it would represent a significant escalation in that country’s already aggressive efforts to assert its claims over this highly strategic portion of the Pacific Ocean.
NBC News was first to report the development, citing two unnamed U.S. officials, on July 1, 2019. NBC‘s sources did not say what type of missile or missiles were involved or what type of targets they struck at the end of their flight. Neither the Chinese nor the U.S. government have officially confirmed the test, which reportedly occurred over the weekend. However, China did issue Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) for two specific areas in the South China Sea, warnings often associated with missile launches and military exercises. These NOTAMs were in effect between June 30 and July 1, 2019.
One of the NOTAMs covered a wide area stretching from the Chinese island of Hainan to contested Paracel Island chain, including China’s outpost on Woody Island, while the other was a box was much further to the south, but north of the disputed Spratly Islands. Their respective positions suggested that Chinese forces had launched a missile from the mainland, with the first exclusion zone being in place in case the missile failed during its boost phase and fell into the ocean, and it then landed downrange in the Pacific Ocean.
China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) has at least two ballistic missiles that reportedly have warheads with sufficient maneuverability to engage large, relatively slow-moving ships, such as aircraft carriers. These are the DF-21D medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and the DF-26 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM).