In recent months, the United States Navy has been working at a fever pitch to find ways to bridge the operational gap between the anti-ship missiles fielded by near-peer competitors like China and the fuel ranges of America’s carrier-based aircraft. The effort has included adding supplementary fuel tanks to the fuselage of Super Hornets, developing procedures to “hot load” F-35s in field expedient, grass air strips inside enemy controlled territory, and the rapidly progressing MQ-25 drone refueler program.

The intent behind all of these efforts is simple: increase the range of America’s aircraft to exceed that of common anti-ship missile platforms, so the Navy’s fleet of Nimitz and Ford class carriers are not rendered useless in a potential conflict.

China, however, may already be working on a way to offset any progress the Navy might be making. New images have surfaced on Chinese social media, and they seem to show a People’s Liberation Air Force’s Xian H-6 bomber converted to carry one specific weapon: China’s formidable DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile.

The DF-21D is among the platforms American defense officials are the most concerned about. Although little is known about the operational capabilities the DF-21D offers, the information we are able to glean is disconcerting.