TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club(YJC)_In the waters off Guam, the USS Gabrielle Giffords fired off a Naval Strike Missile (NSM), a sea-skimming cruise missile that is difficult to spot on radar, and can maneuver to avoid enemy defenses.
The NSM, along with a variety of other weapons, were fired at a surplus US Navy frigate, the former USS Ford, which was towed to the Pacific to act as a target in an exercise called SINKEX.
The Giffords is the first US Navy ship to deploy with the Naval Strike Missile, and analysts say it helps even the equation in the Pacific, where China has been increasing its missile arsenal in terms of quality and quantity.
“The announcement that the US has a new weapons system that seems to have been designed for the South China Sea and for engagement with China in the Pacific (or) elsewhere shouldn’t be a surprise,” DeBar told Press TV on Friday.
“This seems like a conventional weapons system just, as I said, something specifically tailored to the task which appears to be war with China,” he added.
“I think that this US missile system needs to be looked at in that context that they may be preparing for war with China,” the analyst opined.
China now enjoys a 3-to-1 advantage in cruise missiles over the US, but the Naval Strike Missile can eventually "change the game," said Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain now an instructor at Hawaii Pacific University.
"The Pentagon is building a military force that can operate on a more sustainable basis and has a better chance of fighting and surviving within the PLA's deadly anti-access, area denial envelope," said Rand Corp. senior defense analyst Timothy Heath, referring to the mix of ships, aircraft and missiles amassed by China's People's Liberation Army to control parts of the Pacific.
The PLA was showing off much of that new arsenal on Tuesday in Beijing -- everything from intercontinental ballistic missiles to new submarine drones.
Much of the US-China tension has been focused on the South China Sea, one of the most contested areas in the world. Multiple countries claim parts of the commerce-heavy region, but Beijing's claim is by far the most expansive, covering the majority of the sea.