China says its third-generation surface-to-air missile system is now combat ready.
The announcement comes amid increasing tensions with United States over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Beijing has also protested against South Korea’s decision to deploy a missile shield on the Korean peninsula.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force will use the home-developed, ground-based air defence and anti-missile system, spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted as saying on the Ministry of Defence website.
The system can cover from short- to long range and strike low- to high altitude targets, Shen said.
“Air defence and anti-missile systems are critical parts of the air force’s strategic capability,” Shen said.
The system consists of new missiles and launching systems, according to Shen.
The air force is “transforming from territorial air defence to being capable of both attack and defence,” She said.
“We will fully upgrade our strategic early warning, air strike, anti-aircraft and anti-missile, information countermeasure, air landing, strategic aerial delivery and comprehensive support,” he said.
Shen’s remarks follow China’s repeated protests against South Korea’s decision to deploy a US-developed anti-missile system, which Beijing says poses a serious threat to the nation’s security.
South Korea says the shield is needed to protect against North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.