China carried out a long-range missile flight test on Saturday using multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, according to U.S. defense officials.

The flight test Saturday of a new DF-41 missile, China’s longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile, marks the first test of multiple warhead capabilities for China, officials told the Washington Free Beacon.

China has been known to be developing multiple-warhead technology, which it obtained from the United States illegally in the 1990s.

However, the Dec. 13 DF-41 flight test, using an unknown number of inert maneuvering warheads, is being viewed by U.S. intelligence agencies as a significant advance for China’s strategic nuclear forces and part of a build-up that is likely to affect the strategic balance of forces.

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