New Delhi: Days ahead of a planned missile test by India, a Chinese spy ship named Yuan Wang VI — capable of tracking such tests — has entered the Indian Ocean.
The missile is likely to be fired from the Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha between 10 and 11 November, for which India has already issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen). It is understood that India may test the submarine-launched ballistic missile K-4, meant for the country’s indigenous nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).
Leading open source intelligence expert Damien Symon, running the popular Twitter handle @detresfa_ , said the missile may fly to a range of 2,200 kilometres, according to the NOTAM issued.
#AreaWarning #India issues a notification for a no fly zone over the Bay of Bengal region indicative of upcoming missile test
Launch Window | 10 – 11 Nov 2022 pic.twitter.com/XqXVR2j9Y3
— Damien Symon (@detresfa_) October 22, 2022
Sources in the defence establishment said the Chinese spy ship has the ability to track the trajectory, accuracy, speed and range of a missile test.
The deployment is also in sync with a Chinese aerospace mission that flies over the Bay of Bengal between 15 and 20 November, which would put the Yuan Wang VI near the Indian missile test’s splash zone as well, Symon said.
According to MarineTraffic, a website that tracks the movement of ships across the world, the Chinese vessel was sailing off the coast of Bali six hours prior to the filing of this report.
The Chinese vessle is a third generation tracking ship of the Yuan Wang series. The ship, which entered into service in 2008, has been designed by China’s 708th Research Institute.
Yuan Wang ships are understood to be operated by the Strategic Support Force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), though they are not classified as military vessels.
Defence sources, however, explained that China’s action was not unusual and it keeps deploying such vessels whenever a major NOTAM is issued. They also said that the Indian Navy closely monitors all Chinese ships entering the Indian Ocean region and added that any ship is allowed to traverse through international waters.
In August, China had deployed another ship named Yuan Wang V in the Indian Ocean. It was docked in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port for refueling and replacement of supplies.
Indian and the US had protested against it. Several experts had also argued that China made a larger point on the changing metrics of power in the Indian Ocean region by docking the missile and satellite tracking ship Yuan Wang 5 at Hambantota Port.
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