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April 05, 2013

Reports Of The Aircraft Carrier's Demise May Have Been Premature

Lots of defense folks have been talking about how useless aircraft carriers might be in a shooting war with China.

The theory is, China is working on a ballistic missile that can target ships and therefore no carrier is going to get near enough to the battle space to matter. We should simply build smaller carriers for everyday use, cut our capability and call it a day.

Not so fast. It turns out that attack and defense is a cycle (who knew?) and we can build weapons that would work against China's new missile.

Ronald O’Rourke, a CRS specialist in naval affairs, argues that China’s new DF-21D ASBM, dubbed the “carrier killer,” can be defeated by “employing a combination of active and passive measures” along the ASBM’s “kill chain.”

Despite dire warnings by a variety of defense analysts that the U.S. risks losing an aircraft carrier to a Chinese ASBM, O’Rourke said the U.S. Air Force has already “taken [China’s] kill chains apart to the ‘nth’ degree.”


First, the U.S. Navy could do more to control electromagnetic emissions or using deception emitters.

Second, it could also acquire systems for disabling or jamming China’s long-range maritime surveillance and targeting systems, destroy ASBMs in various stages of flight, and decoy and confuse ASBMs as they approach their intended targets.

Options for destroying ASBMs in flight include developing versions of the SM-3 Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) interceptor missile, including the planned SM-3 Block IIA.

The U.S. Navy also should accelerate the procurement of the Sea-Based Terminal interceptor, which is the planned successor of the SM-2 Block IV terminal-phase BMD interceptor.

Wait, the Chinese aren't 150 feet tall and invincible? There new weapon isn't the end of warfare as we know it? Next you'll tell me weapons development is a constant cycle of innovation and adaptation, offense and defense by both sides.

The report says we could also build missile killing lasers, which...yes, yes we should. Because lasers.

Two related posts here and here talk about the need to build a new class of surface ships the Navy is going to need to house the radars needed to deal with the new threats.

There will always be people who say, "oh we can't compete with (fill in the blank). Don't buy it. It's simply a matter of will. Do we as Americans have that will any more?

And since not everyone is a naval strategy/defense geek...open thread.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:58 PM

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