Bombs in the Box: China’s Trojan Horse Navy

Missiles hidden on container ships could soon be in a port near you


Thomas “T.X.” Hammes was a senior Marine Corps intelligence officer in 2010 when he first learned that Russia was marketing a long-range hypersonic cruise-missile system that could be hidden inside a standard international shipping container. Intrigued by this simple innovation that could turn any merchant vessel into a deadly military platform, Hammes began closely following the development of these containerized weapons systems.                                                        

A few years later, Hammes heard that China was also pursuing the idea of hiding missiles on container ships.  At a 2016 trade show, Beijing not only confirmed those rumors, it was offering for sale its own precision-guided system, consisting of four hypersonic cruise missiles, each with a 1,500-mile range, all neatly concealed inside a standard 20’x8’x 8.5’ shipping container.  In 2017, Israel entered the containerized weapons bazaar, test-firing its LORA ballistic missile from a standard shipping contai…

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