Amidst tensions in the South China Sea (SCS) & border conflict with India, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has launched the DF-26 ‘aircraft carrier killer’ missile. The launch of the DF-26 comes at a time when the QUAD i.e. Australia, India, Japan and the United States, have increased their presence in the region.
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.
The DF-26 was launched as the PLA conducted a cross-regional confrontational exercise, manoeuvring through complicated terrains such as forests, simulated hostile chemical attacks, disguised missile vehicles to avoid satellite detection and reached a desert area.
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 manoeuvring, and is not dependent on a preset launch site.
The DF-26 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.
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 kilometres, 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 the Indian Ocean and reach US military facilities in Guam, Darwin and Diego Garcia, the report estimated.
As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, India, Australia, Japan and the US conducted joint military drills in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. The drill was conducted to show solidarity among the QUAD members and to send a stern message to China.