- An investigation of satellite imagery compares China’s missile testing grounds and US military bases
- The images show that the test areas have been designed to look like the military bases, according to the report
- Earlier this week, a highly accurate Chinese ballistic missile capable of threatening US and Japan bases in Asia made its latest appearance
- The medium-range DF-16 featured in a video posted last week
The levels at which China appears to be planning a missile attack on US military bases in the Pacific have been detailed in a new report.
An investigation of satellite imagery comparing China’s missile testing grounds and US military bases shows a pattern – all of the missile tests have been aimed at destroying US carriers, destroyers and airfields in East Asia, the report said.
The images show that the test areas have been designed to look like the military bases, according to the report by Thomas Shugart on War on the Rocks.
Earlier this week, a highly accurate Chinese ballistic missile capable of threatening US and Japan bases in Asia made its latest appearance at recent Rocket Force drills.
The medium-range DF-16 featured in a video posted last week on the Defense Ministry’s website showing the missiles aboard their 10-wheeled mobile launch vehicles being deployed in deep forest during exercises over the just-concluded Lunar New Year holiday.
While the Rocket Force boasts an extensive armory of missiles of various ranges, the DF-16 fills a particular role in extending China’s reach over waters it seeks to control within what it calls the ‘first-island chain’.
First displayed at a Beijing military parade in 2015, the missile is believed to have a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), putting it within striking distance of Okinawa, home to several US military installations, as well as the Japanese home islands, Taiwan and the Philippines.
The two-stage DF-16 replaces the older, shorter range DF-11, with a final stage that can adjust its trajectory to strike slow moving targets and evade anti-missile defenses such as the US Patriot system deployed by Taiwan.
It also carries up to three warheads weighing as much as a ton and carrying conventional high explosives or a nuclear weapon. Further increasingly its lethality, the missile is believed to be accurate to within as little as 5 meters (16 feet) of the target, similar to that of a cruise missile.
China has the most active ballistic missile development program in the world, according to CSIS.org.
Before taking office, President Donald Trump’s questioned Washington’s ‘one China policy’ that shifted diplomatic recognition from self-governing Taiwan to China in 1979. He said it was open to negotiation.
But former US officials and scholars said in a report that such an approach could destabilize the Asia-Pacific and leave Taiwan more vulnerable.
Possible shelter or bunker targets resemble hardened aircraft shelters at the Misawa Air Base in Japan
Possible mock moored ship targets resemble the US Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. Inset is a comparison of the ship and mock ship’s sizes
An area at the Rocket Force test range in western China resembles the layout of a US Naval base in Yokosuka, Japan
US-China relations are at a ‘precarious crossroads’ and the two world powers could be on a ‘collision course,’ it said, describing a rivalry that is growing amid Beijing’s assertion of territorial claims in the disputed South and East China Seas.
China has bristled at the ‘one China’ comments by Trump, who wants to pressure Beijing to narrow its huge trade surplus with the United States.
Beijing also warned of instability in East Asia after Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, said last week on a trip to the region that a US commitment to defend Japanese territory applies to an island group that China claims.
The Trump administration has cast its China policy as part of a ‘peace through strength’ approach.