China developing aircraft carrier-killer missile
The Chinese military is working on an anti-ship ballistic missile programme capable of sinking aircraft carriers, a US naval official said.
WASHINGTON: The Chinese military is working on an anti-ship ballistic missile programme capable of sinking aircraft carriers, a US naval official said.
The Washington Times quoted US Admiral Robert F. Willard, commander of the US Pacific Command , as saying that the new anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) is now in the early stages of deployment after having undergone extensive testing.
"An analogy using a Western term would be 'initial operational capability (IOC),' whereby I think China would perceive that it has an operational capability now, but they continue to develop it," Willard said.
"I would gauge it as about the equivalent of a US system that has achieved IOC."
The new weapon, the "D" version of China's DF-21 medium-range missile, involves firing the mobile missile into space, returning it into the atmosphere and then manoeuvring it to its target. Military officials consider using ballistic missiles against ships at sea to be a difficult task that requires a variety of air, sea and space sensors, navigation systems and precision guidance technology - capabilities not typical of other Chinese missiles, the Times report said.
The admiral said that while the US thinks "that the component parts of the anti-ship ballistic missile have been developed and tested", China's testing has not gone as far as a live-fire test attack on an actual ship.
"We have not seen an over-water test of the entire system," he said.
Military specialists have said the DF-21D deployment is a potent new threat because it will force US aircraft carrier strike groups to operate farther from hot spots in the western Pacific.
Currently, US military strategy calls for the Pentagon to send several strike groups to waters near Taiwan in the event China follows through on threats to use force to retake the island, the report said.
The lone US aircraft carrier strike group based permanently in the region is USS George Washington, whose home port is in Yokosuka , Japan. A second carrier is planned for Hawaii or Guam.
Admiral Willard did not discuss what countermeasures the US Navy has taken against the new anti-ship missile. US naval task forces include ships equipped with the Aegis system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles.