China’s military has conducted the first flight test of a new variant of one of its road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles in a sign that Beijing is increasing its strategic strike capability against the United States.
The test of a new DF-31B missile was conducted Sept. 25 from a missile test range in central China.
A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to provide details of the test.
“We continue to monitor China’s military modernization, including its missile tests,” Cynthia O. Smith, the spokeswoman, told the Washington Free Beacon.
No details of the missile test could be learned, but the test was believed to have been carried out from China’s Wuzhai test facility.
Nongovernment military analysts said the new missile likely is an increased-range or improved performance weapon, and possibly a multi-warhead version of the ICBM.
A Chinese military enthusiast website has identified the DF-31B as a mobile missile variant designed specifically for travel on rugged terrain or other difficult road conditions.
Mobile missiles are considered a greater strategic threat because tracking their location and targeting them in a conflict is very difficult. The missiles can be hidden in garages or caves to avoid detection by satellites and other sensors.
China has made clear in its state-run media that its nuclear forces are being developed for use against the United States. The Global Times reported Oct. 28 that a submarine-launched missile attack on the United States would kill between 5 million and 12 million Americans.