China is nearing the completion stage of its new anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) programme, which is capable of sinking aircraft carriers, US naval official Admiral Robert F Willard has said.

“The new anti-ship ballistic missile is now in the early stages of deployment after having undergone extensive testing,” he added.

The new weapon, known as the “D” version of China’s DF-21 medium-range missile, will be fired into space before returning into the atmosphere to manoeuvre to its target.

China has not conducted a live-fire test attack of the entire system on an actual ship, however, the component parts of the missile have been tested, according to the Economic Times.

The deployment of the missile will force the US aircraft carrier strike groups to operate farther from hot spots in the western Pacific, according to military specialists.