China has commissioned a new generation of missiles into its rocket force, improving its ability to strike targets on land and at sea, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense revealed Thursday.
China “activated” a new brigade of intermediate, long-range missiles for precision strikes, Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV revealed last Monday. Chinese state media did not, however, reveal the type of missile. “The newly commissioned weaponry of the Rocket Force is the Dong Feng-26 missile,” the Chinese defense ministry introduced Thursday.
WATCH: Unveiling the new DF-26 brigade
“After the trial and operational test, this type of missiles are ready to be equipped to the full establishment of unit and have since then been officially commissioned to the Rocket Force,” Ministry of National Defense spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian said, adding that “several new technologies have been applied to this missile.” This Chinese weapons system can carry both conventional and nuclear payloads and is capable of “precision strikes” on critical targets “on land and medium- and large-sized vessels at sea,” he further explained.
The DF-26 has a maximum range of about 2,500 miles, putting Guam — a strategic U.S. territory located in the second island chain in the Western Pacific — within range. The weapon is nicknamed the “Guam Killer” or the “Guam Express” and presumably poses a threat to the civilians and numerous strategic military assets in Guam.
At the same time, the DF-26 is recognized as a carrier killer, as some military observers assess that the weapon could sink an American Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, like the ones that occasionally roam contested waters claimed by Beijing.
This missile, a weapon manufactured by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, “is capable of conducting conventional and nuclear precision strikes against ground targets and conventional strikes against naval targets,” the Department of Defense explained in its 2017 report on Chinese military power.
The Pentagon identified the DF-26 as a weapon potentially capable of threatening U.S. bases in Guam, noting that the ability to “strike regional air bases, logistics and port facilities, communications, and other ground-based infrastructure” is crucial to China’s power projection goals.
The DF-26 was first revealed to the public at a Chinese military parade in September 2015, and it was reportedly used in a drill involving a simulated strike on mock American military targets.
“It should be stressed that there is no change in China’s self-defense nuclear strategy and “No First Use” of nuclear weapons policy,” Wu stated at Thursday’s defense ministry press briefing.
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