China conducts airborne missile interception test amid tension with India

Beijing, Feb 5 (efe-epa).- China has successfully conducted a land-based, mid-range missile interceptor test, the defense ministry said on Friday, amid ranging military tensions in the neighborhood, particularly with India.

The missile interception test to intercept a nuclear warhead took place on Thursday within the Chinese territory, and it “achieved a desired test objective,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

“The test is defensive in nature and not targeted against any country,” the ministry said in the brief statement.

The mid-trajectory ground missile defense system intercepts missiles outside of the atmosphere and reduces collateral damage on the ground.

The objective is to intercept missiles when they are in inert flight, and the trajectory is stable and predictable.

China is the second country in the world to develop this missile interceptor technology after the United States.

The test took place a day after the Joe Biden government in the US approved the five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control agreement after Russia had done the same.

Chinese official broadcaster CGTN said it was the fifth land-based anti-ballistic missile technical test China had publicly announced and the fourth land-based mid-course ABM technical test publicly known.

China announced its first successful test of this type in 2010 and subsequently carried out more in 2013, 2014, and 2018.

Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the official Global Times that the mid-course is the most vital phase in the interception of a ballistic missile while it is in its free flight phase outside of the atmosphere.

“The great difficulty of an interception lies in the high trajectory,” said the expert.

The Global Times noted that since the Chinese military enhanced its combat-readiness, it was “very important to establish an effective and complete anti-missile system.”

More importantly, because intermediate-range and intercontinental missiles equipped with nuclear warheads, it said.

Military sources cited by independent South China Morning Post said the mid-course anti-ballistic missile test might be a warning to India.

“This is a technology that China has been developing for a long while. The Thursday test could be aimed at warning India, which used to adopt nuclear blackmail strategy when dealing with China,” the unnamed military source said.

India, China’s main rival in the region, is planning to deploy its longest-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-V this year, which is reach an estimated more than 5,000 km.

Border tensions between India and China spiked afresh last year near the disputed Himalayan boundary in the Ladakh sector, where 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a physical brawl in June.

Despite attempts to disengage in the western Himalayas through the situation along the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border between the neighbors remains tense.

The growing tensions with China played a role in India signing a satellite data-sharing agreement with the US in October, which would allow New Delhi to achieve better precision for managing its missiles or drones. EFE-EPA


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