The United States and the People’s Republic of China have both recently test-fired long-range ballistic missiles. Although the US has nearly 20 times the number of nuclear weapons as China, the Trump administration has insisted Beijing be included in any new arms control treaties.
Chinese Nuclear Response Test
On Monday, the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) announced it had test-fired two ballistic missiles during a recent drill: one was a short-range Dongfeng-16 missile and the other was a Dongfeng-26, an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) designed to strike targets thousands of miles away.
“We are in a highly alert state for combat, to ensure our actions are prompt and precise,” Liu Yang, the commander of the brigade that carried out the tests, was quoted as saying in a story on PLA news site 81.cn.
The Dongfeng-26 has a range of some 2,500 miles and has been touted as a “carrier-killer” capable of endangering US battle fleets in the region. It has the range to strike US installations on Guam from the Chinese coast.
According to the report, the drill was to test how quickly PLARF soldiers could respond to an incoming nuclear attack. In the video, they are seen donning protective gear as they rush to their mobile missile launchers, then driving them to a platform on a plain that appears to be prepared for launching missiles. The report did not say when the drill occurred.
US Launches Minuteman ICBM
Meanwhile, just after midnight on August 4, the US Air Force’s Global Strike Command fired off an unarmed LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) equipped with three reentry vehicles. In a real nuclear strike, each would carry its own nuclear warhead and go on to strike a separate target.
The missile flew some 4,200 miles from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, US Strategic Command said in a news release.
“The Minuteman III is 50 years old, and continued test launches are essential in ensuring its reliability until the 2030s when the Ground Base Strategic Deterrent is fully in place. Most importantly, this visible message of national security serves to assure our allies and dissuade potential aggressors,” 576th Flight Test Squadron commander Col. Omar Colbert said in the release.
A US Navy E-6 Mercury “doomsday plane” airborne command post and communications aircraft also used the drill to test its own ability to take charge of an ICBM in the event that ground command is interrupted during the missile’s flight.