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China Drills With New Missile For Possible Strikes On US Bases

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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China’s Rocket Force has been drilling with a new ballistic missile that could threaten U.S. bases in the region.

The DF-16, a highly-accurate, mobile medium-range ballistic missile that poses a threat to targets — such as American military bases — located along the “first island chain” in East Asia, was incorporated into recent People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLAAF) exercises, according to the China Daily.

Two types of missiles, the original DF-16 first displayed in a 2015 military parade and a new variant, were used during the drills carried out in the forest over the recent Chinese New Year holiday period.

The Chinese PLAAF has a variety of missiles, such as the nuclear-capable DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile and the DF-21D “carrier killer” anti-ship ballistic missile, under its command, but the DF-16 is “seen as filling a gap in the nation’s arsenal.” The PLA previously lacked an effective medium-range missile.

While the PLA has never officially released the specifications for the DF-16, a lot is known about the missile.

Designed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, the DF-16 has a maximum range of 620 miles, giving it the ability to strike U.S. military installations in Okinawa, as well as targets in the Philippines and Taiwan. Chinese troops could also target the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

The missile is believed to be accurate within 15 feet.

Replacing the older DF-11, the DF-16 is a two-stage missile capable of carrying up to three warheads packed with either conventional explosives or nuclear weapons. It has the ability to maneuver and adjust trajectory in the final stage, giving it an advantage over slow-moving targets and the ability to evade missile defense systems, such as the U.S. Patriot system used by Taiwan.

The PLAAF also drilled with DF-11, DF-15, and DF-21C ballistic missiles during the holidays, China’s DF-41s have been on the move, and China just recently tested a DF-5C, a nuclear-capable long-range missile carrying up to 10 warheads.

Chinese media reports suggest the country is preparing for a conflict with the U.S. given some of President Donald Trump’s more provocative remarks.

The day Trump took office, the PLA Daily reported that the chances of war have become “more real.”

The U.S. is prepared to counter China’s new DF-16 missiles. U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Japanese Ministry of National Defense, and U.S. Navy personnel on board the USS John Paul successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target Friday, using a SM-3 Block IIA, a weapon jointly developed by the U.S. and Japan to counter medium- and intermediate-range missiles.

The SM-3 Block IIA can be launched from Aegis-equipped ships and Aegis shore sites.

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