The Chinese military tested a set of intermediate-range missiles that could strike U.S. aircraft carriers in the South China Sea.
The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force—considered by experts to be one of the most dangerous branches of the Chinese military—tested the DF-26 missiles on Tuesday, according to Chinese state media. The missiles, which are known as “Guam killers” or “carrier killers” due to their extended range, could threaten the U.S. Navy’s ability to respond to crises in the South China Sea.
Col. Jiang Feng, the deputy commander of the brigade that tested the missiles, said the Chinese military conducted the test to ensure it is “able to fight at any time.”
“We have been holding night exercises on a regular basis recently, which usually continue until early the next day,” Jiang said. “We often change training grounds, striking targets and launch bases without prior notice to test the troops’ skills and pave the way for the brigade to fight, and be able to fight at any time.”
The advanced weaponry—which have a range of nearly 2,500 miles—can be used to strike naval targets but also have nuclear capabilities. During the Cold War, nuclear treaties between the Soviet Union and the United States prohibited the production of similar missiles.
The missile tests come shortly after the release of the Biden administration’s 2022 defense budget request, which pared back the Navy’s ability to build up its fleet and procure weapons. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas W. Harker warned in an internal memo, which was leaked on Tuesday, that the budget cuts could constrain the branch’s ability to develop missiles, destroyers, submarines, and fighter jets. Republican defense hawks say the constraints could leave the Navy ill-prepared in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.