PLA de­ploys lat­est bal­lis­tic mis­sile to new­est brigade

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Rocket Force has es­tab­lished a new brigade and armed it with one of the na­tion’s most pow­er­ful bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

A com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony was held re­cently by the PLA Rocket Force at the new brigade’s base at an uniden­ti­fied lo­ca­tion to mark the de­liv­ery of “a new type of mis­sile”, the Rocket Force said in a state­ment on Mon­day. The move in­di­cated that the brigade has fin­ished the es­tab­lish­ment and trial run phases and has be­gun to gain full com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity, it said.

The weapon given to the brigade is a do­mes­ti­cally de­vel­oped, new-gen­er­a­tion in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing con­ven­tional and nu­clear war­heads. It can carry out rapid nu­clear re­tal­i­a­tion as well as pre­ci­sion strikes against ground tar­gets or large ships within an in­ter­me­di­ate range, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

It called the mis­sile a new pil­lar in the Chi­nese mil­i­tary’s strate­gic de­ter­rence and strike arse­nal and a ma­jor “trump card”, adding that the mis­sile’s de­ploy­ment was “a mile­stone in the Rocket Force’s his­tory” be­cause it has given the force a “new strate­gic tool”.

The Rocket Force also said it has been spar­ing no ef­fort to fos­ter the ca­pa­bil­ity to con­duct nu­clear re­tal­i­a­tion and in­ter­me­di­ate-and long-range pre­ci­sion strikes and has ob­tained a suc­ces­sion of breakthroughs in new weapons’ re­search and de­vel­op­ment. Its units re­ceived sev­eral new types of mis­siles with var­i­ous ranges and func­tions over the past sev­eral years, it noted.

The state­ment did not give the type of mis­sile de­liv­ered, but a video clip pro­vided by the Rocket Force and the de­scrip­tion of the weapon in the state­ment in­di­cate it is the DF-26 in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

The mo­bile DF-26 was first shown to the pub­lic at the V-Day pa­rade in Bei­jing in Septem­ber 2015. It also was used in a pa­rade last July in the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­tonomous re­gion that cel­e­brated the PLA’s 90th birth­day.

The mis­sile and the DF-21D, also a new weapon de­ployed by the Rocket Force, are be­lieved to be the only two anti-ship bal­lis­tic mis­siles in the world.

A strat­egy re­searcher close to the PLA who wished not to be named said Mon­day’s state­ment was prob­a­bly the first time the Rocket Force or its pre­de­ces­sor — the PLA Sec­ond Ar­tillery Corps — had pub­li­cized a new mis­sile’s de­liv­ery.

“Con­sid­er­ing that the DF-26 is tasked with hit­ting key tar­gets on land and at sea, it is very in­ter­est­ing that the Rocket Force pub­lished this news at this point,” he said, also men­tion­ing that the weapon is widely dubbed the “Guam Killer” in the West.

The PLA never makes pub­lic spe­cific mis­sile ca­pa­bil­i­ties. For­eign pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the Jane’s Strate­gic Weapon Sys­tems, have spec­u­lated that DF-26 has a max­i­mum range of 4,000 kilo­me­ters and a pay­load ca­pac­ity of 1.8 met­ric tons.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The mo­bile DF-26 is shown in a mil­i­tary pa­rade in the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­tonomous re­gion in 2017 cel­e­brat­ing the PLA’s 90th birth­day.

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