China's development of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), designed to target aircraft carriers, has reached an advanced stage and the weapons system has achieved initial operational capability, according to a senior American military commander. This was revealed to a Japanese newspaper by Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the United States Pacific Command, in an interview.
An initial operational capability designation also signifies that the system still needs time to fully mature.
Defence analysts say the development and deployment of the missile will have a major impact on security in Asia.
In a recent interview with Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Admiral Willard, said that information China has released in the open press and the continued testing of the weapon system show it has reached the equivalent of what the US military calls initial operational capability.
According to Adm Willard, initial operational capability entails that China has a workable design for the missile and that the system is being developed further.
The land-based missile, called the Dongfeng 21D (East Wind), is designed to attack aircraft carrier groups with the help of satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs. It will enable China to offset the huge advantage that the United States enjoys with respect to its deployment of massive aircraft carriers and the strike groups that accompany them.