Ballistic missile can hit moving ships, China says, but experts remain skeptical

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Posted at 1:57 AM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 07:58:14-05

Chinese state-run media on Monday posted a pointed defense of the capabilities of its so-called "Guam killer" missile, challenging an earlier CNN report that doubted its ability to hit moving ships at sea.

The video report was televised in China on Thursday. It appears to be part of a concerted propaganda push designed to impress domestic audiences while underscoring China's military strength on the international stage.

Experts say the release of the video, which purports to show DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missiles being launched from an undisclosed location, actually reveals very little.

"The video doesn't show a missile hitting a moving target at sea," military expert Carl Schuster told CNN. "For all the audience can see, it is a standard ballistic missile launch with no indication of whether the target is moving or static."

China has long claimed the missile, dubbed the "Guam killer" by analysts for the threat it poses to key US military bases on the Pacific island, can also target warships in the open ocean.

But hitting a moving target at sea would require practicing procedures and tactics that China had not yet shown, said Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center.

After a US Navy guided-missile destroyer steamed near Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea earlier this month -- an action Beijing claimed violated China's territorial waters -- China said it had deployed the missile to its remote desert and within range of the South China Sea.