(fashion) The US Navy has deployed a warship loaded with a state-of-the-art cruise missile to the South China Sea to redress Beijing's dominance in the disputed territory.
The USS Gabrielle Gifford departed from San Diego, California earlier this month, carrying with it the Naval Strike Missile, which can hit a Chinese ship from 100 miles away.
The missile is sea-skimming and difficult to detect by radar. It can also dodge enemy defense systems and detect exact targets on a ship with less room for error, according to the weapon's designer.
A MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter drone helps it to find ships over the horizon, reaching up to 100 miles away.
The USS Gabrielle Gifford deployed from San Diego, California earlier this month headed for an undisclosed location in the Asia Pacific region
It is equipped with the Naval Strike Missile (not pictured) which can hit targets over 100 miles away and dodge enemy defence systems
'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 People's Liberation Army's deadly anti-access, area denial envelope,' Rand Corp. senior defense analyst Timothy Heath told CNN.
The PLA had, until now, a 3-1 advantage in cruise missiles in the South China Sea and their collection of ships, missiles and landing strips have left America in a weaker position in the Asia Pacific.
China and a number of other countries dispute the ownership of sea territory which covers the Spratly Islands.
Vietnam and the Phillipines are the next largest claimants after Beijing, followed by smaller countries, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.
China and a number of other countries dispute the ownership of the area in the South China Sea, which covers the Spratly Islands
Though the US are still outgunned in the region, the deployment of the Naval Strike Missile is an important development to send a message to Beijing.