WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) — A Chinese submarine coming within firing range of U.S. ships before detection indicates China is preparing for conflict with the United States, a report said.

Defense officials said the Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine tailed the USS Kitty Hawk undetected, surfacing within five miles of the aircraft carrier Oct. 26 before being spotted during surveillance flights, the Washington Times said.

The sub reportedly followed the aircraft carrier battle group, surfacing within range of its missiles and torpedoes.

The disclosure came as Adm. Gary Roughead, commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet, visited China to meet senior Chinese military leaders, the Times said. Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of U.S. Pacific forces, is undertaking a military exchange program with China designed to improve relations between the two nation’s militaries.

Critics said China denied U.S. military visitors access to key facilities while Chinese military visitors have been invited to U.S. military exercises and sensitive facilities.

“This is a harbinger of a stronger Chinese reaction to America’s military presence in East Asia,” Richard Fisher, a Chinese military specialist with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, told the Times.

Via UPI.