Anti-ship rocket 'included in drills'

Updated: 2016-02-16 08:02

By Zhao Lei(China Daily)

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Several drills have been carried out by the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force during the past two weeks, with one of them involving the simulated use of the cutting-edge DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, according to observers.

During Spring Festival, a Rocket Force missile brigade carried out an exercise to test troops' combat readiness, China Central Television reported in a military news program.

Footage showed more than 10 vehicles from the brigade leaving their garage and traveling among hills, reportedly in southern China. Several vehicles carrying missiles then took up prearranged positions and practiced the launch procedure.

After the first round of "strikes", the missile carriers moved to another area and carried out a second round of simulated launches, the footage showed.

Observers told the news website that judging from the missile vehicles' exteriors, they were carrying the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile that was unveiled by China during the Sept 3 military parade in Beijing.

The weapon has been dubbed the "aircraft carrier killer" by Western military analysts.

The observers said the exercise indicated that the DF-21D can be reloaded and prepared anywhere outside its missile base, allowing a second strike to be staged with a short preparation period following an initial strike.

An introduction to the missile at the parade described it as a "trump card" in asymmetric naval warfare as well as a new milestone as the PLA builds up its strategic strike capability.

Asymmetric warfare refers to war between belligerents whose relative military power, or whose strategy or tactics, differ significantly.

Analysts in the United States believe the DF-21D has a range of 1,500 kilometers and is equipped with maneuverable warheads and a terminal guidance system.

Shao Yongling, a professor of military strategy at the PLA Rocket Force Command College in Wuhan, Hubei province, said the DF-21D and DF-26 - which also made its debut at the parade - are probably the only two ballistic missiles capable of sinking aircraft carriers.

In another exercise, two short-range ballistic missile brigades from a missile base carried out live-fire drills in tropical forests in southern China and in a desert in the northwest of the country.

The PLA Rocket Force was set up in late December to replace the Second Artillery Corps that had managed the country's ballistic missiles since the 1960s.

According to PLA Daily, the military's flagship newspaper, the Rocket Force has at least nine missiles in active service. They include the DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile and the CJ-10A ground-launched cruise missile.

(China Daily 02/16/2016 page3)