File photo: DF-5B intercontinental missile
BEIJING, Feb. 3 (ChinaMil) -- The Washington Free Beacon, a US online newspaper, published an article on January 31, which cited two Pentagon officials that China had a trial launch of intercontinental missiles earlier in January. The Pentagon believed the new DF-5C missile that carried 10 MIRVs (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle) was tested. French media also reported on the trial launch earlier, but believed it to be a test of DF-41's MIRV at that time.
The article, written by Bill Gertz, said two Pentagon officials familiar with the matter confirmed the flight test of DF-5C missile separately, which carried 10 MIRVs, earlier in January. The US intelligence department kept a close eye on the launch.
It is said that the missile was launched at Taiyuan Space Launch Center and flew to an impact range in a desert in western China. There were no more details about the matter, and Pentagon's new spokesperson Cmdr. Gary Ross told the newspaper that "the [US Defense Department] routinely monitors Chinese military developments and accounts for PLA capabilities in our defense plans".
Gertz wrote in his article that the test of a missile with 10 warheads forced the US to reevaluate China's nuclear arsenal. For a long time the US has estimated the number of China's strategic warheads to be at the low level of 250.
It is reported that according to a US-Russia agreement, the United States is slated to reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,550 deployed warheads. A boost in the Chinese nuclear arsenal to 800 or 1,000 warheads likely would prompt the Pentagon to increase the U.S. nuclear warhead arsenal by taking weapons out of storage.
Rick Fisher, an analyst with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the multi-warhead missile test appears to be aimed at sending a signal to the new Trump administration.
"This test of the 10-warhead DF-5C is China's latest nuclear intimidation exercise aimed at the new Trump administration," Fisher said.
"China's nuclear intimidation signals have included the public revelation in late December via Chinese websites of the new DF-41 ICBM in Heilongjiang province, plus articles in China's state-controlled media touting the need for China to increase its nuclear forces to intimidate Washington," Fisher added.
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