While China has long had the ability to strike Guam with long-range nuclear missiles, the Chinese military is expending an increasing amount of resources to hit the key US island with more conventional weapons in the event of a conflict, according to a government report released Tuesday.
The report, first reported on by the Washington Free Beacon and published by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, focuses on the threat posed by the recent introduction of new Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles and China’s ongoing efforts to refine technology that would allow their weapons to accurately hit US assets on Guam and other surrounding islands.
Of particular concern, according to the report, is the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile. With a supposed range of 2,500 miles, the missile has been dubbed the ‘‘Guam Killer’’ or ‘‘Guam Express,’’ because of its ability to hit the US island after being launched from mainland China.
‘‘Combined with improved air- and sea-launched cruise missiles and modernizing support systems, the DF-26 would allow China to bring a greater diversity and quality of assets to bear against Guam in a contingency than ever before,’’ the report says.
The DF-26 is China’s first conventional ballistic missile capable of reaching Guam, and its modular design allows it to hold various types of warheads, including nuclear payloads.
Guam currently hosts more than 5,000 US personnel, multiple military facilities, and four nuclear-powered submarines.
Additionally, there is a contingent of rotating multi-role jet fighters and bombers, as well as the presence of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile battery that can detect and intercept ballistic missiles such as the DF-26.
While the report assesses the risk of an attack on Guam as low, the continued introduction and deployment of new weapons that can threaten US interests in the region are part of a broader Chinese strategy designed to resist US responses to its territorial claims.