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Chinese missile could shift PAcific power balance

Gray_Fox_86

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Chinese missile could shift Pacific power balance
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In this July 25, 2010 photo, crew of the USS George Washington line up on the deck as the supercarrier leaves South Korea's southern port city of Pusa AP – In this July 25, 2010 photo, crew of the USS George Washington line up on the deck as the supercarrier …
By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writer Eric Talmadge, Associated Press Writer – Thu Aug 5, 5:43 pm ET

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON – Nothing projects U.S. global air and sea power more vividly than supercarriers. Bristling with fighter jets that can reach deep into even landlocked trouble zones, America's virtually invincible carrier fleet has long enforced its dominance of the high seas.

China may soon put an end to that.

U.S. naval planners are scrambling to deal with what analysts say is a game-changing weapon being developed by China — an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).

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EDITOR'S NOTE — The USS George Washington supercarrier recently deployed off North Korea in a high-profile show of U.S. sea power. AP Tokyo News Editor Eric Talmadge was aboard the carrier, and filed this report.

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Analysts say final testing of the missile could come as soon as the end of this year, though questions remain about how fast China will be able to perfect its accuracy to the level needed to threaten a moving carrier at sea.

The weapon, a version of which was displayed last year in a Chinese military parade, could revolutionize China's role in the Pacific balance of power, seriously weakening Washington's ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea. It could also deny U.S. ships safe access to international waters near China's 11,200-mile (18,000-kilometer) -long coastline.

While a nuclear bomb could theoretically sink a carrier, assuming its user was willing to raise the stakes to atomic levels, the conventionally-armed Dong Feng 21D's uniqueness is in its ability to hit a powerfully defended moving target with pin-point precision.

The Chinese Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to the AP's request for a comment.

Funded by annual double-digit increases in the defense budget for almost every year of the past two decades, the Chinese navy has become Asia's largest and has expanded beyond its traditional mission of retaking Taiwan to push its sphere of influence deeper into the Pacific and protect vital maritime trade routes.

"The Navy has long had to fear carrier-killing capabilities," said Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the nonpartisan, Washington-based Center for a New American Security. "The emerging Chinese antiship missile capability, and in particular the DF 21D, represents the first post-Cold War capability that is both potentially capable of stopping our naval power projection and deliberately designed for that purpose."

Setting the stage for a possible conflict, Beijing has grown increasingly vocal in its demands for the U.S. to stay away from the wide swaths of ocean — covering much of the Yellow, East and South China seas — where it claims exclusivity.

It strongly opposed plans to hold U.S.-South Korean war games in the Yellow Sea off the northeastern Chinese coast, saying the participation of the USS George Washington supercarrier, with its 1,092-foot (333-meter) flight deck and 6,250 personnel, would be a provocation because it put Beijing within striking range of U.S. F-18 warplanes.

The carrier instead took part in maneuvers held farther away in the Sea of Japan.

U.S. officials deny Chinese pressure kept it away, and say they will not be told by Beijing where they can operate.

"We reserve the right to exercise in international waters anywhere in the world," Rear Adm. Daniel Cloyd, who headed the U.S. side of the exercises, said aboard the carrier during the maneuvers, which ended last week.

But the new missile, if able to evade the defenses of a carrier and of the vessels sailing with it, could undermine that policy.

"China can reach out and hit the U.S. well before the U.S. can get close enough to the mainland to hit back," said Toshi Yoshihara, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College. He said U.S. ships have only twice been that vulnerable — against Japan in World War II and against Soviet bombers in the Cold War.

Carrier-killing missiles "could have an enduring psychological effect on U.S. policymakers," he e-mailed to The AP. "It underscores more broadly that the U.S. Navy no longer rules the waves as it has since the end of World War II. The stark reality is that sea control cannot be taken for granted anymore."

Yoshihara said the weapon is causing considerable consternation in Washington, though — with attention focused on land wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — its implications haven't been widely discussed in public.

Analysts note that while much has been made of China's efforts to ready a carrier fleet of its own, it would likely take decades to catch U.S. carrier crews' level of expertise, training and experience.

But Beijing does not need to match the U.S. carrier for carrier. The Dong Feng 21D, smarter, and vastly cheaper, could successfully attack a U.S. carrier, or at least deter it from getting too close.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned of the threat in a speech last September at the Air Force Association Convention.

"When considering the military-modernization programs of countries like China, we should be concerned less with their potential ability to challenge the U.S. symmetrically — fighter to fighter or ship to ship — and more with their ability to disrupt our freedom of movement and narrow our strategic options," he said.

Gates said China's investments in cyber and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, along with ballistic missiles, "could threaten America's primary way to project power" through its forward air bases and carrier strike groups.

The Pentagon has been worried for years about China getting an anti-ship ballistic missile. The Pentagon considers such a missile an "anti-access," weapon, meaning that it could deny others access to certain areas.

The Air Force's top surveillance and intelligence officer, Lt. Gen. David Deptula, told reporters this week that China's effort to increase anti-access capability is part of a worrisome trend.

He did not single out the DF 21D, but said: "While we might not fight the Chinese, we may end up in situations where we'll certainly be opposing the equipment that they build and sell around the world."

Questions remain over when — and if — China will perfect the technology; hitting a moving carrier is no mean feat, requiring state-of-the-art guidance systems, and some experts believe it will take China a decade or so to field a reliable threat. Others, however, say final tests of the missile could come in the next year or two.

Former Navy commander James Kraska, a professor of international law and sea power at the U.S. Naval War College, recently wrote a controversial article in the magazine Orbis outlining a hypothetical scenario set just five years from now in which a Deng Feng 21D missile with a penetrator warhead sinks the USS George Washington.

That would usher in a "new epoch of international order in which Beijing emerges to displace the United States."

While China's Defense Ministry never comments on new weapons before they become operational, the DF 21D — which would travel at 10 times the speed of sound and carry conventional payloads — has been much discussed by military buffs online.

A pseudonymous article posted on Xinhuanet, website of China's official news agency, imagines the U.S. dispatching the George Washington to aid Taiwan against a Chinese attack.

The Chinese would respond with three salvos of DF 21D, the first of which would pierce the hull, start fires and shut down flight operations, the article says. The second would knock out its engines and be accompanied by air attacks. The third wave, the article says, would "send the George Washington to the bottom of the ocean."

Comments on the article were mostly positive.

___

AP writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and National Security Writer Anne Gearan in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
Chinese missile could shift Pacific power balance - Yahoo! News

I am not sure of what to think. Many military and intelligence analysts, that are credible, say watch out for how China is modernizing their military. Soon they will be a serious military competitor that far exceeds the Russian threat. Because unlike Russia, China is an ailing population with far too many men. That means they would most likely want to start a war for females or the government would just want to cull the male population. But still if they ever attack we must watch out.
 

Demon of Light

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I am not sure of what to think. Many military and intelligence analysts, that are credible, say watch out for how China is modernizing their military. Soon they will be a serious military competitor that far exceeds the Russian threat. Because unlike Russia, China is an ailing population with far too many men. That means they would most likely want to start a war for females or the government would just want to cull the male population. But still if they ever attack we must watch out.
Is that some sort of sick joke?

Aside from that I think people are exaggerating China's capabilities and its potential threat. Sure an anti-ship ballistic missile would be a major threat, but in general it would not be too difficult for the U.S. and Russia to do something similar. In fact, it is quite plausible they already are working on such projects, and they can produce far more ballistic missiles at this point. Also this creates greater incentive for adopting anti-ballistic missile technology like the SM-3.
 

rathi

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China already can deny USN access tens of miles from their coastline, and this missile will extend that reach further. While no wunderwaffen technology is a sure bet, carriers are at a serious disadvantage in the technological arms race. They cannot run, they cannot hide and the missile defense system cannot afford even a single failure, while the enemy only needs to get a missile through. Technology like this is going to spread as time goes on, and it would be prudent to start developing a replacement for carriers in the future. Realistically, I doubt it is possible to stop China from asserting control over nearby waters, but there still is a whole lot of other ocean for the USN to continue to control.
 

Goshin

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Hard to say, without being an expert on the whole missle / counter-missle technology situation, which I am not.

However, those whose business is naval war are concerned, so that concerns me.

We need to get more serious about producing more advanced anti-missle systems, or possibly alternatives to the carrier battlegroup. Possibly building a larger number o much smaller carriers that use VTOL warplanes?
 

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Hard to say, without being an expert on the whole missle / counter-missle technology situation, which I am not.

However, those whose business is naval war are concerned, so that concerns me.

We need to get more serious about producing more advanced anti-missle systems, or possibly alternatives to the carrier battlegroup. Possibly building a larger number o much smaller carriers that use VTOL warplanes?
Carrier subs with Harrier jet type capabilities?

Just a thought.
 

rathi

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Hard to say, without being an expert on the whole missle / counter-missle technology situation, which I am not.
I can't claim to be an expert either, but the fundamental nature is firmly skewed against counter-missile technologies. A carrier is a giant object that slowly moves at 30 knots. A missile is a tiny object moving from several hundred to several thousand mph. Thus, it is far easier to hit a carrier than an incoming missile. Compounded by that, the defending system cannot afford to let a single missile through, while the attacker needs only one good hit. Suppose the Chinese have a missile that can hit a carrier 50% of the time, while we have a missile that can intercept theirs 95% of the time. Despite such a technical advatantage, the Chinese need only fire 60 missiles in order to get an 90+% chance of a hit.
 

Goshin

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I can't claim to be an expert either, but the fundamental nature is firmly skewed against counter-missile technologies. A carrier is a giant object that slowly moves at 30 knots. A missile is a tiny object moving from several hundred to several thousand mph. Thus, it is far easier to hit a carrier than an incoming missile. Compounded by that, the defending system cannot afford to let a single missile through, while the attacker needs only one good hit. Suppose the Chinese have a missile that can hit a carrier 50% of the time, while we have a missile that can intercept theirs 95% of the time. Despite such a technical advatantage, the Chinese need only fire 60 missiles in order to get an 90+% chance of a hit.

That is a strong point, no doubt.

A lotta advances are being made with lasers, lately. A hypothetical laser anti-missle system would use a light-speed beam to intercept the missle... 186,282 mph vs a couple thousand mph. That could be the thing that tilts the equation towards the anti-missle side. We don't have one yet, but we're working on it.
 

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That is a strong point, no doubt.

A lotta advances are being made with lasers, lately. A hypothetical laser anti-missle system would use a light-speed beam to intercept the missle... 186,282 mph vs a couple thousand mph. That could be the thing that tilts the equation towards the anti-missle side. We don't have one yet, but we're working on it.
Except there are also a number of countermeasures that could be employed against directed energy weapons. I believe the Russians are already putting such countermeasures in their ballistic missiles.

As far as the fate of carriers that will likely be impacted less by their vulnerability and more by the advances made in intercontinental aircraft and spacecraft technology.
 

rathi

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A lotta advances are being made with lasers, lately. A hypothetical laser anti-missle system would use a light-speed beam to intercept the missle... 186,282 mph vs a couple thousand mph. That could be the thing that tilts the equation towards the anti-missle side. We don't have one yet, but we're working on it.
Lasers are reflected and scattered by clouds, smoke and fog. They are inherently unable to operate in bad weather.
 

Goshin

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Lasers are reflected and scattered by clouds, smoke and fog. They are inherently unable to operate in bad weather.

Hm. That could be an issue yes. I thought infrared was less susceptible to such problems.
 

American

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Lasers are reflected and scattered by clouds, smoke and fog. They are inherently unable to operate in bad weather.
Microwaves are a different story.
 

rathi

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Hm. That could be an issue yes. I thought infrared was less susceptible to such problems.
It is, but it just isn't enough. A powerful enough laser might be able to penetrate a light cloud with enough energy, but even moderately bad weather is going to neutralize any laser that is practical. Lasers may have their place, but they will have to be accepted as fair-weather friends.

Microwaves are a different story.
True, but I haven't hear of any weaponized application of mircrowaves that could target missiles. The only military use on the drawing board is a less-lethal crowd dispersion method based on heating skin. I doubt you could focus enough energy of such a long wavelength on a single point to cause any significant damage.
 
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