China Warns U.S. – Fires Two Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Into South China Sea

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Travis S. Alston via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, China launched a DF-26B and a DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) – it also calls “carrier killers” – from two different locations on the mainland converging on one target area in the South China Sea (SCS). This rare double test was a clear response to the U.S. Navy’s recent repeated visits to the South China Sea by several aircraft carriers, as well as the ongoing U.S-led RIMPAC 2020 international naval exercise near Hawaii.

As I have previously written, the USS Theodore Roosevelt transited the South China Sea in March, while last month, the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan conducted their own rare dual carrier drills with their strike forces operating jointly in the SCS.

SEE ALSO: U.S. Reminds China How ‘Real’ Aircraft Carriers Strike Groups Operate

With these “carrier-killer” missiles, China believes it can destroy U.S. ships operating in the SCS, including America’s mightiest aircraft carriers. This double missile test was also a reminder, not just to the U.S. Navy, but also to its regional allies who may feel emboldened to join any U.S.-led anti-China alliance.

While its missile capabilities are formidable, how successful China would be in sinking well-defended U.S. carriers is still uncertain.

As Popular Mechanics (PopMech) notes, the DF-21 is a medium-range missile with a range of 1,355 miles, while the DF-26 is an intermediate-range missile with a longer range of up to 2,485 miles. Developed from land-based variants, these ASBMs are now a means of holding U.S. Navy aircraft carriers at risk. PopMech further explains that they –

…are designed to launch from mobile transporters and travel hundreds of miles to attack enemy warships. The hypersonic warhead flies higher and faster than conventional anti-ship missiles, making it difficult for ships without ballistic missile engagement capability to intercept. The warhead is designed to slam into a warship at blisteringly fast speed, then detonate a high explosive or even nuclear warhead.

In anticipation of China’s ASBM launches, PopMech reported that the Pentagon deployed an RC-135S Cobra Ball reconnaissance aircraft to the SCS prior to the missile test. The Air Force RC-135S is a converted Boeing 707 jetliner designed to “collect optical and electronic data on ballistic targets.”

In other words, the Cobra Bell RC-135S gathers data from these missile tests to help improve American ballistic missile defenses.

China illegally claims almost 90 percent of the expansive, and misnamed, South China Sea as its own territorial waters. The U.S. and most other nations vigorously dispute this claim, calling it not only illegal but absurd. They also declare most of the SCS as international waters, and some islands within it as belonging to smaller countries in the region such as Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

To keep the Chinese from steadily encroaching on the rights of these smaller countries, and dominating a major strategic international waterway, the U.S. Navy conducts Freedom Of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) throughout the SCS.

These FONOPS have increased in size and frequency recently as China has become more belligerent and aggressive in its expansion. These Chinese missile launches are just the latest warning to the U.S. Navy to back off.

Unfortunately for China, based on recent actions and statements by the U.S. Navy and the Trump administration, “backing off” does not appear to be a U.S. option.

READ NEXT: U.S. Raises Stakes Rejecting China’s ‘Completely Unlawful’ Sea Claims >>

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Paul Crespo

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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bumperkm
bumperkm
10 months ago

They better not hit our or Japan’s ship or there will b e hell to pay.

Truckmant
Truckmant
10 months ago

I don’t think they can get there missiles past ours and we can take out there launchers

David in Dallas
David in Dallas
10 months ago

I don’t think they’d better buy that ticket. Reprisal would be immense.

TheMadMan
TheMadMan
10 months ago

Well, If we are in the south china sea then why not just attack them and get it over with?

llllljjjj
llllljjjj
10 months ago

They could try. Much like the Japanese did when they started WWII. And we know how THAT story ended. Retaliation would be swift, and costly to them.Also, a World War has always been a boon in bringing our civilian population together. Our people do their own independent thing until threatened from the outside. Then we band together and are like a wolverine in a hole.Every cloud has a silver lining. Potential enemies should think twice.

James Green
10 months ago
Reply to  llllljjjj

Well sai my fellow Patriot. iiiijjjj

Bama Bill
Bama Bill
10 months ago

Now if China REALLY wanted to hurt us? Well, they could make us all go barefoot in a short time by not selling any shoes to us. OR, stop supplying Walmart! Then what would people do on weekends? Walmart would have empty shelves in a month. Sam Walton NEVER bought on thing from China! Think of how many would be “Out of Work” if Walmart closed? Now that’s how China could REALLY HURT THE USA!
You have NO IDEA, what our military can do! The Skunkworks had the A-12 variant of the SR-71 performing missile shots from “Over 80,000 feet” with a 98% kill rate! That was 50 years ago. But, since it was “SO Top Secret” MacNamara didn’t know about it! SO, he “Killed” the SR-71 program to get his wonderful “B-70 Valkarie” bomber! The A-12 could shoot down six B-2’s per flight. It’s “Look Down, Shoot Down” missile system was that good. A B-2 isn’t stealthy from above.

Robert
Robert
10 months ago

Now when any Country is threatened in any they have to develop weapons to defend them selves, exactly what China has done, and will keep on doing. Now when the USA developed the Atomic Bomb I would bet that not one here would ever complain, yet now many unstable Governments around the World have something similar in an atomic weapon, and not one person here can ever realize the long term consequences of those horrible weapons, and no matter what China, Russia or any other Country develops, in most cases they know the consequences of using it. Exactly why North Korea has a weapon that they will only use if pushed to a point where they have no choice but to use it as a defense weapon against others if pushed to a point where desperation steps in.
Now if China does use this weapon it will not only be China who suffers we will all suffer when the rest of their arsenal is released, against someone retaliating.

Allan Roberts
10 months ago

Can you imagine what will happen if Biden bercomes president. He will bow to the Chinese and ask them to appoint his son to a high paying job in their fake companies. This is what the Democrats are about. Who else? Harry Reid and hillary Clinton. All it takes to get your way is PAY THEM OFF.

Lew
Lew
10 months ago

One missile on the Three Gorges Dam.

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