Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Beijing, China (4E) – The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) has apparently deployed a few batteries of its The Dong-Feng 26 (DF-26) intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) to locations on the mainland where they can better cover the islands either seized or built by China in the South China Sea.
CCTV, China’s state-run TV service, said the mobile IRBMs are positioned at a distant outpost along the western coast of China, far from its eastern coastline.
“The DF-26 is attached to a brigade under the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force that operates in Northwest China’s plateau and desert areas. A mobile missile launch from deep in the country’s interior is more difficult to intercept.”
If confirmed, the deployment of this missile (which China nicknames the “Guam Killer”) will mean this IRBM with a range of 4,000 km will have a long way to travel before reaching its targets. The DF-26 entered service with PLARF only in April 2018.
China revealed the location of the DF-26 only two days after it failed to scare away the USS McCampbell (DDG-85), which conducted a successful Freedom on Navigation Operation (FONOP) off the Paracel Islands on Monday. The Paracels are controlled by China but are also claimed by Vietnam and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Acknowledging the existence of DF-26 batteries is apparently a warning to the U.S. Navy not to conduct more FONOP in the South China Sea. The Navy will certainly disregard this threat and continue with its FONOPs.
In violation of international law, China claims a straight baseline around the entire Paracel Islands archipelago. It wants foreign warships to ask permission before operating near the islands.
In response to China’s complains the McCampbell’s foray violated its sovereignty, U.S. Navy officials retorted McCampbell operated within the standards of international maritime law.
“The timing of the report sparked discussions among Chinese military observers online, as it came after the USS McCampbell, a US guided-missile destroyer, trespassed into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands on Monday without permission from the Chinese government,” wrote the Global Times, a newspaper of the Communist Party of China.
The newspaper also said the DF-26 is capable of targeting medium and large ships at sea and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.
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