After years of conjecture, details have begun to emerge of a “kill weapon” developed by the Chinese to target and destroy U.S. aircraft carriers.
First posted on a Chinese blog viewed as credible by military analysts and then translated by the naval affairs blog Information Dissemination, a recent report provides a description of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) that can strike carriers and other U.S. vessels at a range of 2000km.
The range of the modified Dong Feng 21 missile is significant in that it covers the areas that are likely hot zones for future confrontations between U.S. and Chinese surface forces.
The size of the missile enables it to carry a warhead big enough to inflict significant damage on a large vessel, providing the Chinese the capability of destroying a U.S. supercarrier in one strike.
Because the missile employs a complex guidance system, low radar signature and a maneuverability that makes its flight path unpredictable, the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased. It is estimated that the missile can travel at mach 10 and reach its maximum range of 2000km in less than 12 minutes.
While troubling, I don’t know that I’d get all upset over this report. Investigate it ? For sure. Work on ideas for defenses against this or similar threats? Absolutely. It could very well be real, and, if it is, it could very well work decently. They’d only have to hit once to change things in a major way.
At the same time, I’d be more worried about submarines and the threat of submarines.
Also, a recent Linkzookery pointed out that the anti-missile Aegis ships are going to be upgraded to allow them to use their SM-2 missiles against ballistic missiles. The SM-2 has a much shorter range than the SM-3, but the added flexibility to use the full load of Standard Missiles against ballistic missiles is a good deal. And the shorter range wouldn’t be such a limitation if used against these “kill weapons.” If the anti-missile SM-2 upgrade would allow engagement of these things, that’s probably the way to go.
I wonder what it would take to get that anti-missile SM-2 upgrade for all Aegis ships. That would create a whole fleet of carrier escorts equipped to deal with this threat and turn the SM-2 into a “Kill Weapon Killer.”