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China’s ‘Guam killer’ missile a new fear for US

(CNN)Capable of hitting targets 3,400 miles away, China’s “Guam killer” missile is raising new fears of a growing Chinese threat to major U.S. military installations and stability in the Pacific Rim.

A congressional panel has issued a report warning of the dangers of the missile, during a week in which U.S.-China tensions flared a new with a U.S. Navy destroyer sailing close to a Chinese-claimed island in the South China Sea.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said this week that China’s DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile — dubbed by analysts the “Guam killer” and unveiled at a military parade in Beijing last September — allows China to bring unprecedented firepower to bear on the U.S. territory of Guam. The territory sits well within the missile’s range.
“Foremost among China’s military assets capable of reaching Guam, the DF-26 IRBM represents the culmination of decades of advancements to China’s conventional ballistic missile forces,” the commission’s report says.
While the current state of Chinese guidance technology makes any threat low at the moment, the report noted that “China’s commitment to continuing to modernize its strike capabilities indicates the risk will likely grow going forward.”
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was established by Congress in 2000 to look at issues between the two Pacific powers. It is required to submit an annual report to Congress on U.S.-China relations and advise Congress on possible legislative and administration actions.
Guam, home to Andersen Air Force Base and Apra Naval Base, has been as a place from where the U.S. could project power across the Pacific while having its forces at relatively safe distance from possible threats, including North Korea and China.
A report from the RAND Corporation think tank prepared before the Chinese military parade last year called Andersen the “only U.S. base in the Western Pacific not currently threatened by conventional ballistic missiles.”
And a study last year from MissileThreat.com at the George C. Marshall Institute in Washington warned, “Prior to the deployment of the DF-26, China’s only way to attack Guam would have been with H-6K strategic bombers, which would have been much less effective given the strong defensive capabilities of the U.S. military on the base.”
About 6,000 U.S. military personnel are based on Guam. The U.S. Air Force has sent regular rotations of B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers as well as top-line fighter aircraft to Andersen. The U.S. Navy has four attack submarines homeported in Apra and can use the base as a resupply point for other warships.
Guam sits 2,500 miles from Beijing, which puts it about 700 miles beyond the range of China’s land-based medium-range missiles. But intermediate-range missiles such as the DF-26 have a range of up to 3,400 miles, according to the Pentagon, putting Guam within striking distance.
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