Aircraft carrier killer: Why US, China tested missiles on same day amid tension at South China Sea

The United States tested an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM, while China tested two missiles capable of hitting US Pacific territory and the other known as "aircraft carrier".

Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile

US and China on Tuesday carried out missile tests amid tensions in the South China Sea. The United States successfully tested an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in a launch directed from an airborne command center.

China tested the DF-26 missile capable of hitting the US western Pacific territory of Guam and the DF-16 short-range missile.



The US missile was launched at 12:21 am (0721 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, travelling 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles) over the Pacific Ocean before landing in the sea near the Marshall Islands.

"The test demonstrates that the United States' nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective," the Air Force said in a statement.

"Airmen... were aboard the US Navy E-6 aircraft to demonstrate the reliability and effectiveness" of the airborne launch control system, it said.


'To assure our allies and dissuade potential aggressors'

Colonel Omar Colbert, commander of 576th Flight Test Squadron, said "the Minuteman III is 50 years old, and continued test launches are essential."

"This visible message of national security serves to assure our allies and dissuade potential aggressors," he said.

The Air Force added that test launches were "not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions."


Trident nuclear missiles deployed on US submarines

The Minuteman III has been the only surface-to-air missile in the US nuclear arsenal since 2005. It is installed at bases in Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana.

Trident nuclear missiles are deployed on US submarines, and US strategic bombers also carry nuclear devices.


'Aircraft carrier killer'

According to China's Global Times, the DF-26 intermediate-range anti-ship ballistic is an "aircraft carrier killer".

The Global Times said the DF-26 was launched "after the US provocatively sent two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea for exercises and held joint naval drills with India, Japan and Australia in the Indian Ocean and the Philippine Sea respectively in an attempt to contain China."


USS Nimitz

In January 2019, the launch of a DF-26 was shown to the general public in a China Central Television report for the first time, the Global Times said in its report.

India and United States had conducted a naval exercise near the Andaman and Nicobar islands last month with USS Nimitz joining the drills along with several Indian warships.

The exercise was quite similar to the one carried out with the Japanese navy last month. India will be conducting more drills in the Indian Ocean as it is expanding its alliance on the high seas.



Malabar exercise

Malabar exercise is an annual affair. It involves training both at sea and on land with the Indian, United States, Japan and Australian Navies taking part.


India-US naval exercise

The India-US naval exercise was held amid increased Chinese presence in the Indian ocean with a military base in Djibouti in the horn of Africa which connects the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian ocean.

Also, the clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in June heightened tensions between India and China with the US keen on supporting India, a fact clearly mentioned by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.


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