However, the presence of some of the country’s most advanced military equipment was not lost on international observers.
More than 12,000 soldiers marched in the parade, according to Reuters, with soldiers from Russia and other countries also participating. Tanks, jets, and armored vehicles also made their way through Tienanmen Square, but two of the most notable pieces of military hardware on display were both Dong-Feng “East-Wind” class ballistic missiles.
While these missiles undoubtedly pose a threat to U.S. interests in the Pacific, the United States has known about them for some time, giving the Pentagon an opportunity to develop ways of countering the weapons. Here’s a closer look at what was on display in Beijing.
The first variant of the DF-21 became operational in 1991, according to the Web site missilethreat.com. Since then the Chinese have fielded four variants—the most recent being the DF-21D. The 21D is unique for a number of reasons, notably though because of its strike range—roughly 900 nautical miles—and the targets it is intended for: aircraft carriers. According to a report in the National Interest by naval historian Robert Farley, the DF-21D relies on a network of “systems” to accurately hit its intended target. Farley argues that a massive launch of DF-21Ds against U.S. aircraft carriers would result in a majority of the missiles being either shot down by missile defense systems and electronic countermeasures. But if a missile made contact with an aircraft carrier, that vessel would be disabled for the remainder of the conflict—something Farley calls a “mission kill.”
Known as the “Guam Killer” because of the missile’s ability to strike U.S. forces on the island of Guam, the DF-26 is capable of receiving a nuclear payload according to an article in Popular Mechanics. The missile’s range is billed between 1,800 and 2,500 miles and hence is qualified as an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, the DF-26 can be prepped for launch and fired relatively quickly, thus making it difficult to counter.