The internet is an interesting place, particularly in a world of information where credibility demands us to study our sources. We have to make judgments on credibility, do background research and analysis, and form conclusions regarding credibility of both information and author. For its part, the Navy mostly runs at EMCON ALPHA regarding force structure and other budget related issues, and has had this policy for a long time regarding foreign threats and capabilities that may drive the decision process. As a result, the maritime world has been forced to turn to other places for information, including blogs like this one or the blogs of the various authors who write here. All of sudden, a credible source might not be someone whose title is a rank like Admiral, but whose name is essentially a call sign like Galrahn. When dealing with the former, credibility is generally accepted, while with the latter credibility must be developed and earned.

One of the authors on my blog Information Dissemination is someone I have known online for many years, long before I began blogging. Feng is a long time contributor (even a part time moderator for validity purposes) at various military related internet forums, and runs a blog of his own that specifically discusses China Air and Naval Power. It isn’t enough for me to say Feng, who enjoys being anonymous for valid reasons, is a credible source; trusting some guys word (even mine) should never be enough. I would note however, that careful analysis to his credibility has been given by serious researchers in our government. For example, Ronald O’Rourke cites Feng a dozen times in his Congressional Research Service report titled China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress last updated November 19, 2008. Personally, I find Feng to be one of the very best serious researchers publishing English language content in the open source on China military activity relating to Naval and Air Force issues, and note that his contributions on my blog often provides imagery and analysis unique on English language open source forums.

I was recently given a tip regarding a blog post on a Chinese blog by a very well informed individual who studies Chinese threats and capabilities being developed by China against the United States Navy. Within 3 days, I was sent the blog address again, this time from a high ranking naval officer who has more than a passing interest in the subject. It is one thing to get a link from someone who simply passes on a link and says “check this out.” It is quite another to get the same tip from two credible individuals who do two very different things and most likely do not know each other.

I am not familiar with this Chinese blog, but I do note the blog cites sources for its content, consistently cites information that is verifiable and accurate in the various posts, and does appear to be very credible. Feng has done detailed analysis of the blog post on Information Dissemination, so there is no need to repeat his work, but it is appropriate to consider what this information means if Feng’s analysis is accurate. For the record, most of the conclusions Feng came to were similar to my own, but I wanted his second opinion before discussing in depth.

The generic summary of the article is that the blog post describes an anti-ship ballistic missile weapon system China has developed built around the DF-21 solid propellant ballistic missile. With a range of 2000km, the ballistic missile is intended to cover the radius out to the second island chain and sink US Navy aircraft carriers and other surface vessels. The weapon system has been given a maneuverable warhead, a complex guidance system, and adds a third stage to the ballistic missile system to add penetration capability and maneuverability.

To support this weapon system, China has also developed a series of reconnaissance capabilities ranging from satellites to signals intelligence to UAVs intended to locate US Navy surface forces and engage any ships moving into an attack zone, suggested to be inside the second island chain.

While elements of the program, including the DF-21 ballistic missile system itself, is thought to be IOC with published information now coming out in Chinese military journals, what is very clear is that the weapon system, and the supporting tracking and reconnaissance networks, are all in a steady state evolutionary development. This suggests that just as the US Navy is in an evolutionary process with ballistic missile defense, China is engaged in a similar evolutionary process for ballistic missile offense against major vessels at sea.

While not said specifically, previous news media reports have suggested that this capability that China has developed is the specific reason the US Navy changed directions so suddenly in the July 31, 2008 hearing in the House regarding the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class. As Vice Admiral Bernard J. “Barry” McCullough put it in his testimony that day (PDF):

Rapidly evolving traditional and asymmetric threats continue to pose increasing challenges to Combatant Commanders. State actors and non-state actors who, in the past, have only posed limited threats in the littoral are expanding their reach beyond their own shores with improved capabilities in blue water submarine operations, advanced anti-ship cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. A number of countries who historically have only possessed regional military capabilities are investing in their Navy to extend their reach and influence as they compete in global markets. Our Navy will need to out pace other Navies in the blue water ocean environment as they extend their reach. This will require us to continue to improve our blue water anti-submarine and anti-ballistic missile capabilities in order to counter improving anti-access strategies.

The Navy’s reaction is telling, because it essentially equals a radical change in direction based on information that has created a panic inside the bubble. For a major military service to panic due to a new weapon system, clearly a mission kill weapon system, either suggests the threat is legitimate or the leadership of the Navy is legitimately unqualified. There really aren’t many gray spaces in evaluating the reaction by the Navy, and given that Gene Taylor was convinced by the argument of Roughead regarding the necessity to adapt due to emerging requirement, the data tends to support the legitimacy of the threat.

For those who have read my content over the last few years, I would not be what is known as a China hawk, but I admit I find the idea that an anti-ship ballistic missile weapon system has achieved IOC very troubling. For the most part, I tend to dismiss the likelihood of a direct military confrontation between the US and China as long as our two economies are linked the way they are. I see China’s current rise very similar to our own nations path as a rising power prior to WWI, and think the odds of a US-China partnership in the 21st century are more likely than a US-China war. However, there is one trend that I do think our nation must keep a keen watch for in the 21st century, because it is the story of military procurement since the end of the cold war. Any military capability utilized by a major power will eventually be utilized by a lesser power, and I note all of the nations who seek ballistic missile weapon systems with their disconnected economic systems; North Korea, Iran, Syria, Pakistan; and interest in the technology expanding to both South America and African nations; are essentially where the worlds troublemakers live whom we are most likely to fight if human history is our guide. We will fight them because of our superpower status, and that those are the countries more likely to start a fight with someone else, not necessarily us though.

There are a number of issues that interconnect the nature of this threat and build its credibility as a weapon system likely to be used by lesser powers. First, a nation with a robust ballistic missile capability can field satellites. Unmanned aviation vehicles are being propagated globally through legitimate exports, and the market is driving towards many advanced systems. Many of the state actors who are seeking ballistic missile capabilities are maritime powers with island bases distributed in major sea lanes, which increases reconnaissance options for tracking while decreases the expensive reconnaissance requirements.

These conditions raise several questions. Does the emergence of a new kill weapon demand a new discussion of fleet survivability? Should our traditional approach of developing counter-systems capabilities be the priority, for example, is AEGIS ballistic missile defense our best option for countering the capability being developed? While I think the idea of a 14,500 ton stealth warship in the littoral is hilarious (as in stupid) due to being countered by the MK 0 eyeball from the littoral population, perhaps stealth in blue water is something that needs serious discussion, after all, there are very few MK 0 eyeballs in the deep blue nowhere.

For the China specific threat, the trends in thinking suggest the solution lies in increasing the range for strike capabilities of the US Navy, the primary drivers being longer range precision missile systems with the MK57 and longer range carrier air wings with UCAVs. This does make some sense, but the question I would raise is how this is applied to the North Korea or Iran scenarios? In the case of both of those countries, the lanes of communication at sea are restricted through littoral channels and several islands extend the range of detection capabilities the enemy could field in those confined waters. That tends to support the ballistic missile defense capability.

Another suggestion often discussed is that submarines, not surface combatants, are the future because any ballistic missile system developed for offensive capabilities is specific to surface vessels. This is true, but submarines still require air cover for defense, and that air cover comes from either area air-warfare capabilities provided by surface vessels or aircraft, which may require an aircraft carrier.

The DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile system represents in one capability the most important discussion the Navy is not having, and considering how many discussions the Navy is not having with the American people and Congress; I think that is saying something. The capability specifically raises the fundamental strategic choices that Congress faces, likely in total ignorance, when looking to how many and what type of ships the US Navy needs to build. Countering this weapon system is going to require very expensive ships, and several of them per high value unit (carriers and amphibs). Countering the capability requires additional assets, like rapidly deployable satellite systems, Air Force tankers, UCAVs to extend the strike range of the carrier air wings, and newer, more capable long range strike platforms that may include replacements for the highly capable but enormously expensive Ohio class SSGNs. The range of attack and defense for the US Navy will not only extend out to 2000 nautical miles, but will also be required to range up, perhaps to specifically engage satellite systems that provide guidance to those weapon systems. Most importantly, the US Navy will require large numbers of these very expensive systems, and anything less would represent a calculated political decision to accept the risk. If large numbers of very expensive and capable ships is not the political option available, then Congress needs to be open to other ideas.

Right now, there is absolutely ZERO evidence Congress is open to other ideas no matter what they say, and in person I observed in shock the evidence last week.

As I have thought through the challenges these type of emerging kill weapons bring to the maritime domain, my thoughts have been trending towards the necessity for a new fleet survivability discussion similar to the one raised in the late 1990s regarding littoral warfare by Cebrowski and Hughes. Hughes in particular raises the fleet survivability discussion in his book Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat, noting that one hallmark of naval combat in history is that it becomes a war of attrition. As a theory, this is accurate, but there is a major political pressure against the theory of attrition that prevents the discussion from even taking place.

I was struck this week when I sat in the House Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee hearing on Thursday discussing the requirements for the future capabilities of the United States maritime forces. During the hearing, Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett was discussing the Littoral Combat Ship, and as a former member of Cebrowski’s staff, he was reviewing with the committee his own experience regarding some of the idea discussions regarding the driving strategic concept the ship was attempting to inject into the fleet constitution discussion. Part of Cebrowski’s intent, according to Barnett, was to get the Navy to think about surface combatants in a different way, a move away from traditional platforms and towards new strategic paradigms that would encourage the Navy to think about how fleet forces operated. In his explanation, Dr. Barnett used an example of ejection seats as a way for a crew to survive a hit.

At that moment Dr. Loren Thompson jumped into the discussion, capitalizing on Barnett’s example as a form of fleet expendibility. I had been waiting, hoping actually, for exactly this kind of confrontation between Dr. Thompson and Dr. Barnett in the hearing, and was looking forward to seeing the two bloody the other a bit for the audience.

But inexplicably, Gene Taylor is sucked into Dr. Thompson’s distraction technique and chides Dr. Barnett about expendable crews, making the argument that if ships were expendable then it implied that crews are expendable; the irony being Dr. Thompson’s spin job is so effective Gene Taylor forgets the purpose of an ejection seat. Gene Taylor should have asked Dr. Barnett to respond to Dr. Thompson, and had the men beat up the arguments, because the results of Gene Taylor snipe at Barnett is very troubling, and probably undercut the intent of the entire hearing in the first place.

If the Chairman of the House Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee is unwilling to even consider a fleet survivability discussion within the context of a future capabilities discussion for US maritime forces, then he has established a policy that insures only the highest future capabilities should be considered by the US Navy when developing warships. If war at sea is historically, and by definition, a war of attrition, and political policy is established that no ships at all are expendable, even low intensity fighting forces, the only translation and conclusion one can make under such a policy is that no losses at sea are acceptable.

Policy drives strategy, so Gene Taylor’s policy would therefore drive fleet constitution strategy, and if we accept policy and align strategy to it, I honestly cannot think of any valid reason Gene Taylor’s policy shouldn’t inform the Navy the way ahead. Gene Taylor’s policy of unacceptable losses means under no condition can the Navy even consider a National Security Frigate based on the National Security Cutter, regardless of Gene Taylor’s support for it, because that ship has an even lower survivability standard than the Littoral Combat Ship, which already has the lowest allowable survivability standard of any “warship” the US Navy has built since WWII. It is a great irony that Gene Taylor probably felt satisfied beating up Dr. Barnett with his comment, but his comment was a political miscalculation with enormous consequences, because if the Navy has anyone intelligent in NAVSEA, that quote will be the primary quote used by the Navy to sink Gene Taylor’s own National Security Frigate idea because he laid down a policy that prohibits risk. Gene Taylor thought he was smacking Dr. Barnett, but he got played by Dr. Thompson’s mind games and shot his own leg off instead. I’m sure Northrop Grumman was impressed.

The Navy should be celebrating Gene Taylor’s policy moment, it is essentially top cover for everything they have done since July 31, 2008. Regardless of any future capabilities that could drive future fleet constitution, Gene Taylor’s comment can only be interpreted as guidance for the Navy to insure the Navy takes no chances and accepts no risks in developing future surface forces. When the most influential political figure in the United States regarding the US Navy makes clear that risk to warships is the single most important factor in a strategic discussion of future capabilities, the Navy would be absolutely foolish to develop the future fleet towards any other threats than the kill weapons. That means the DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile system, submarines, and anti-ship missiles must be the focus of the future fleet, and all the low end pressures will go without attention due to politically mandated policy that prohibits risk to ships.

Said another way, the Navy’s future surface fleet strategy would be more in line with policy to discuss stealth for future aircraft carriers, something I actually will discuss later this week, rather than discussing low intensity pirate activity because piracy doesn’t represent any threat at all to a US warship. It may not be a popular position, but Gene Taylor’s statement directs warship design specifically towards threats to ships, as opposed to threats to the global environment, and was very clear regarding the suggestion a ship can be expendable. Absent a higher political authority, like the President, Gene Taylor’s guidance should be taken very seriously (particularly in light of how much influence Rep Taylor has exercised since Roughead became CNO).

Gene Taylor was unwittingly fooled by Dr. Thomspon into arguing against his own National Security Frigate while essentially establishing a policy for guidance that makes questionable sense strategically in this fiscal environment for the sole purpose of slapping around Dr. Barnett, for what gain is unclear. The effect is clear though, the quote can be used by the Navy as top cover, and it doesn’t even have to be used out of context.

From this outside observers perspective, this is just one more example of how completely adrift at sea the entire political leadership establishment looks to be in strategic maritime discussions taking place in this country. Next thing you know we will have Congressional hearings on future capabilities and the future strategic environment where the Virginia representative complains about the maintenance facilities in Mayport so as to argue keeping carriers in Virginia, or the Connecticut representative will discuss submarine procurement rates for his local shipyard, or the Hawaii representative will discuss the damage to a coral reef due to a cruiser grounding off Pearl Harbor, or the Maine representative will want an engineering comparison regarding the differences between the DDG-51 and DDG-1000.

Oh damn, nevermind, that was exactly what happened last Thursday! Anyone want to take 3 guesses what the questions will be to the Navy come the May budget hearing? I predict the Navy will sail through the House hearing regarding the FY 2010 budget time under a light breeze now that the Navy knows exactly what questions to expect.

Bottom line: as long as the Navy makes sure no one gets hurt, no mistakes are made, and every ship is gold plated enough to remove any risk at all to their ships and crew, the Navy will be completely in line with the political policy and strategic vision of the future I saw advocated by political leadership on Thursday during a Congressional discussion that looks to the future. In other words, the Navy culture that is sometimes discussed in the context of being risk averse is more appropriately described as a reflection of political policy. When the political policy driving naval forces decisions favors the protection of technology instead of protecting strategic interests, the policy accepts greater risk for strategic miscalculations in favor of less risk for industrial interests.

I don’t care how much money one cuts from the defense budget, no amount of defense acquisition process reform can fix that problem.




Posted by galrahn in Uncategorized


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  • http://www.militaryairships.blogspot.com campbell

    “Another suggestion often discussed is that submarines, not surface combatants, are the future because any ballistic missile system developed for offensive capabilities is specific to surface vessels. This is true, but submarines still require air cover for defense, and that air cover comes from either area air-warfare capabilities provided by surface vessels or aircraft, which may require an aircraft carrier.”

    Or, better, to use “submarines that fly”

    This is why I continue to promote the Navys’ use of modern rigid shelled solar powered airships. They can have a stealth capability comparable to a B-2 bomber or submarine, a linger-in-theater capability comparable to a nuclear submarine, the worldwide range of a bomber without need of refueling. At 175 knots, an airship can change its’ position rapidly enough to counter ballistic missile threat, even if seen by eyeball. The ability to fly overland negates the concept of an “attack zone”; as the airship has the ability to attack from anywhere, 360 degrees. The ability to carry larger or heavier payloads than an airplane, and to fly nap-of-the-earth, to hover, or land as readily as a helicopter makes an airship an extremely useful and dangerous military platform.

    Lockheed Martins’ High Altitude Airship proposes to use solar power for its’ ISIS blimp; it is minimal because of the extreme altitude at which it flies. However, the technology needed to construct and field large rigid shelled solar powered, AMPHIBIOUS airships (NOT BLIMPS) that are designed to fly at less than 10,000′ is readily available.

    Airships will become a paradigm shift in Navy capability; and, can be realized at fractions of the cost of surface vessels.

  • Spade

    Campbell will you please stop trying to derail every damn discussion into an airship discussion. I know it is your business and all (which you don’t always disclose), but jeez. Somebody could post “I had a great sandwich for lunch” and we’ll get “well that sandwich would’ve been better, fresher, and delivered by a more survivable system if we had AIRSHIPS (not blimps) blah blah blah”

    And I actually had something constructive to post in regards to the excellent write up by galrahn and I lost my entire train of thought. Have to reconstruct it later.

  • http://www.checkswithchart.com Fast Nav

    You honestly think submarines need air cover for defense? Do you know anything about how submarines operate? two words, depth separation.

    and blimps? seriously? I’d need to see some video, but right now your description of a stealthy-yet-tactically manueverable blimp made me choke on my morning coffee.

    Oh, and I don’t care what you call it, it’s a blimp.

  • http://www.checkswithchart.com Fast Nav

    I’d like to amend my previous post in saying that I did not mean to seem so flippant towards your statement of submarines needing air cover, Galrahn.

    Just that in all my time, I can honestly say I’ve never seen an asset assigned with even a tertiary task of “providing air cover for submerged assets”

  • Chap

    LOL. I like airships–for some tasks–and that reads as big silliness. “Stealth capability comparable to a B-2 bomber or a submarine”? “amphibious”? “175kt” being pushed by solar? Come on.

  • Chap

    @Galrahn: Two nits to pick, not to detract from your overall thesis.

    I’m with FN on the air cover thing. I can see air being used for a protection or sanitizing role in a bastion strategy or portside defense, or as part of a combined arms approach towards an area of operations, but what we use submarines for involves situations where friendly air just ain’t around. I don’t see where you get “require” from that. I’ve seen plans made that make the air arm move away due to fratricide considerations, as well.

    Also: I don’t know what you mean by

    Another suggestion often discussed is that submarines, not surface combatants, are the future because any ballistic missile system developed for offensive capabilities is specific to surface vessels.

    The first offensive use of a ballistic missile from a submarine in war was Fluckey’s bombardment of the Japanese coast IIRC. Platform technical challenges are different but you can fire a rocket from anything that can hold the thing, I’d reckon.

  • http://www.militaryairships.blogspot.com campbell

    Gentlemen

    Please; I certainly DO disclose that airships are my business. I am, in effect, hoping that the Navy will BUY airships. Mine, ‘twould be nice. But properly designed airships nevertheless, from any source. It is a technology that is needed by the Navy.

    I apologize if my comments do not address ALL of Galrahns’ post. He makes numerous, very valuable and considered notes, on a wide varity of subjects: strategy, hull forms, aviation, amphibious ops, etc. I address those that pertain specificaly to airships
    primarily because that is my field. It is never my intent to diminish or to sideline Galrahns’ comments, nor to carry any discussion “off topic”.

    Hopefully, reasonable discussion about potential technology that can improve the Navys’ success, will be welcomed. Direct communication with me via email is preferable; still, making comments here and there will have to do unless and until people begin contacting me; or, until I write a paper about airships for Proceedings.

    And, Gentlemen, please note my caveat, “reasonable” discussion. Asides that refer to the readily apparent limitations of past blimp capabilities, rather than allow for the possibility for improved airship technologies are not reasonable, only counter-productive.

  • FOD Detector

    As I’ve opined before, the areas the Navy really needs to focus its future on are: persistent ISR, subs and ASW, and SF.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    what we use submarines for involves situations where friendly air just ain’t around.

    My argument to this is 3 fold.

    First, I consider the primary threat to our submarines during wartime enemy ASW aviation capabilities, not enemy ASW surface or submarine capabilities. The necessity to contest enemy ASW aviation exists as a requirement, although it may not be required in all situations.

    Second, I approach this from the position that submarines can generally expect initiative on enemy forces, but upon revealing their position upon engagement those dynamics can change rapidly, both favorably and unfavorably for our submarines. The necessity to call and get assistance from joint assets will exist in major war.

    Third, while it is true that sustained air cover will likely not be possible, the ability to contest enemy airpower should be factored into the discussion as an option. Submarines are too valuable to abandon as a rule, and simply be left to fend for themselves.

    Another suggestion often discussed is that submarines, not surface combatants, are the future because any ballistic missile system developed for offensive capabilities is specific to surface vessels.

    I may be unclear here. When I say any ballistic missile system developed i am talking about the anti-ship ballistic missile system being developed is specific for striking surface vessels, not submarines. That makes submarines a viable strategic alternative to the development of surface combatants for breaking down enemy anti-access and area denial networks.

  • Distiller

    A comment on that map you posted, especially the “Second Island Chain” and what it means and consequences:
    Number one it’s unacceptable. Out for some years now, it basically replicates Japan’s WW2 strategy towards the resources of the Dutch East Indies. What it does not show (usually) is the extension to the south, which would clearly include the Philippines and Indonesia. Already the “First Island Chain” is basicylly a declaration of war towards Viet Nam and Indonesia and from the Chinese view a “legitimate” reason to land on Borneo to protect Chinese interests. But one might not go to war with China over some coral banks in the South China Sea.
    What the map also shows is a potential future war zone, between the first and the second “Island Chain”. (Of course such a Chinese foray would be done with the help of heavy political angles, e.g. by stirring up troubles with the Chinese minority all over the Greater Sunda Islands). And it should be that environment the Navy should think about when planning for the next 30 years.
    And I think that subs, smart combat UAVs and flexible commando-style actions by combined aerial and amphib forces would be a suiteable way to make it hard for the Chinese to forcefully occupy these islands WW2 style, and also to deny them their use if they should manage to conquer. The need for large carrier battle groups seems limited to deny the Chinese Navy force projection outside that “Second Island Chain” and to protect the route to Australia.
    That all said, any war with China should be avoided.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hoo boy. Great post, Galrahn.

    Gen Jim Mattis reiterated the point the other day that we must maintain our capabilities ACROSS THE SPECTRUM. Paring our efforts down to a specific threat spectrum is the chicken way out. This is as true of COIN/conventional war as it is anti-piracy/brown water/blue water efforts.

  • Big D

    Hoo boy. There’s a lot to cover here, really too much for a single comment. I assume you’ll be posting more detailed thoughts on discrete subjects within this later, so I’ll stay somewhat general for now.

    This “Battleships Forever” policy would be the perfect solution–if we had double or triple the procurement and at-sea manning dollars that we do today. Unless Rep. Taylor is willing and able to push through that kind of spending, he needs to be informed in the strongest possible terms just what kind of limits he is placing on the fleet, and the result of having too few ships in too few places at one time.

    I do agree with you in general regarding the seriousness of the ICBM threat; I’ve been increasingly worried about our opponents’ increasing reach for some time, and I’m glad that it’s being picked up. Naval planners have to start asking themselves some hard questions, particularly in light of the de facto surrender of the littorals out to the magic 25NM line. If our response to these new threats is to retreat halfway across the ocean and attempt to fight from there, decisions like buying lots of F-18s of any type stop making any sense; meanwhile, cruise missiles are a poor substitute, and UCAVs are tethered less by their fuel tanks than by their fragile data pipes–remember that China (and surely others) has long eyed our satellite constellations and would go to great lengths to disrupt them.

    I do think that there are ways out of both of these issues. For the policy angle, we may need to stand up a formal mission requirement for USCG-like operations that do not fit well into USCG because of size and scope. Consider it a maritime equivalent to the Green Berets and their force training mission, as opposed to their commando mission, which is already well-handled by the SEALs. Such a requirement would not be fulfilled by a “non-combatant” force, but a “less-combatant” force incapable of operating alone except in low-threat environments. This would be primarily a back-fill and show-the-flag/training force–more likely to get shot at with AKs, and far less likely to get shot at with ASCMs or ICBMs.

    For the increasing range, accuracy, and lethality of our opponents’ weapons, I would point to such things as directed energy weapons–the ability to burn through a missile’s seeker straight to the warhead within a second or two anywhere within LOS forms the basis of a very powerful defense. Such a weapon should (I think) be just as capable against a MARV threat, barring perhaps the use of nuclear airbursts (which have to be accurate, indeed–witness CROSSROADS ABLE). I do think it may be worth at least some discussion on whether CG(X) could be built to any *reasonable* expense as SSGN(X). There once was a time when submarines spent most of their lives on the surface, and dived to break contact or avoid attack; would such a strategy make any sense today? Could technical issues, such as developing and deploying powerful X-band radars on a sail (or better, a very large mast) be answered successfully? I’m prepared for one or more of those answers to come back immediately with a firm NO; but I figure it’s worth asking the question at this point.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Big D,

    I am pretty sure that the radar array envisioned for the CG(X) with BMD capability requires a pretty big ship to operate it. Available power, cooling, and just the array sizes are probably displacement drivers. Also, I’m not sure that the ability to bring down the mast and hide brings a lot to the table (especially in terms of BMD). Good out of the box thinking, but I don’t think it is either technically feasible (with reasonable cost) or operationally optimal.

    V/R,

  • borhbemo

    Granted that Rep Taylor’s comments taken to their logical conclusion suggest that survivability against the very highest end threats would be the overriding design priority for the Navy’s next generation of surface combatants.

    But he’s one man–albeit very powerful when it comes to naval shipbuilding in the US…and the venue was designed for posturing. D

    Did anybody else sense that his comment to the effect that “no ship is expendable because no sailor is expendable” was posturing and a bit of a throwaway vice reflecting any deeply held strategic viewpoint about what requirements the Navy must prioritize when designing future surface combatants?

    I mean if you accept that one of his major constituents is NG, and all those that build things like the NSF for NG, then his comment doesn’t make political sense (such a view would be much less surprising if pronounced in a New England twang vice a Mississippi drawl).

    To cut to the chase, do we risk reading too much into his comment?

  • Big D

    Benjamin: My assumption is that the cost/capabilities would not work out; that if you made it big enough and powerful enough to support the radar and associated systems, that it would cost too much and have operational deficiencies due to its compromises.

    But, that said, I’d like to see someone who knows what the numbers are put some thinking to it, just to be sure. After all, just because we treat subs as “all-stealth, all the time”, doesn’t mean that we have to–see the semi-submersible druggies. And, we have used subs for crazier things in the past.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “That all said, any war with China should be avoided.”

    That doesn’t sound like much of a foreign policy. Especially if China gets wise. Europe tried it with Germany in the 30s over fears of the Luftwaffe, and it didn’t exactly work out.

  • Byron

    One more from the peanut gallery. The assumption here is that this proposed ship is a unit all unto itself. US Naval policy has long utilized a system of systems, layered defenses and all that. This ship would never go without it’s escorts. And in all this discussion, no one mentioned the greatest threat: a submarine. Given the sad state of ASW today, a Romeo could get inside on this ship.

  • Lumpy

    From what I heard, the killing of the DDG-1000 as noted in Vice Admiral Bernard J. “Barry” McCullough testimony was due to the cost of the one-dimensional combatant exceeded the cost of a Aegis DDG. So DDG-1000 was killed because it didn’t give the “biggest bang for the buck” as compared to a Aegis DDG. So, the program was killed at a 2 ship series, because it was becoming cost-prohibitive. Your version sounds exciting, but it seems the bean counters decided in this case.

  • Chap

    @Galrahn: Thanks for the reply comment. I think what I’m reacting to is the assertion that submarines require air cover for defense. If you plan that way then you risk removing the stealth of the asset and lose effectiveness. There are naval analogies to this but the one that immediately pops to mind is Air Force: during Desert Storm they sent in their stealthy airplanes to strike. Problem was, when they did it they thought in the manner that I think you’re describing, and CENTCOM laid down a blanket of air defense suppression and jamming. The Iraqis reacted to the suppression and jamming by firing all sorts of ordnance into the air, removing all benefits of stealth and putting the US aircraft and mission at serious risk. Stealth requires being treated stealthily and sometimes there’s a risk tradeoff.

    –Subs can go in first and farthest for battlespace prep long before kinetic ops occur. Air ASW is not the best at detecting this without cueing, so this situation I think fits your ‘may not be required’ component. It’s a nontrivial role.

    –Once a sub signals its presence with a flaming datum, enemy assets will certainly be looking to kill the boat. If the kill mechanism were sub-laid mines, then there wouldn’t be a boat around; if the destruction of the enemy is significant, there might not be enough assets to prosecute; it might be a good trade. Just sayin’.

    –Other topic, ballistic missiles: I seem to remember a Soviet solution to that problem that was more guided than ballistic and aimed at subs. It compensated for target uncertainty by having a big honking radioactive warhead on it instead.

    -break-
    Great description of the “HASC” (what do they call it now?) meeting. It deserves its own post, I think. I’ll go toddle over to Barnett’s blog and see what he says about it.

  • B.Smitty

    Big D,

    I too have been wondering about adding other surface “features” to SSNs and SSGNs, but I don’t think ABM makes as much sense. A CG(X) needs to stay near the vessels it escorts. Diving to leave them to their fate when the going gets rough doesn’t seem very chivalrous. ;)

    However if an SSN or SSGN(X) could be given a frigate or destroyer-like, multi-spectrum surface capability, then maybe we could build more of them at the expense of DDGs/FSCs.

    A submerged SSGN able to light up a flight of Chinese Flankers with encapsulated SM-6s could be a handy capability in the early days of a conflict.

  • Fred

    What if we just went low tech (for once :)) and just make a bunch of decoy carriers or a decoy fleet? something relatively cheap that looked like a carrier from the air/space and carried a little radio that mimicked a carrier’s chatter? Build enough of them and it renders the missile pretty much useless right? Don’t want to waste what is probably a really expensive missile on a dummy, right? I don’t know all the ins and outs and this is purely from an uneducated perspective. I’m sure there are a ton of other things to take into consideration.

  • Stephen Rex

    With news about this Chinese Super-Carrier “Kill Weapon,” I’d just like to give thanks again to the former Clinton Administration for selling U.S. missile tech to the Chinese in exchange for campaign cash.

  • Byron

    Fred, I’m sure the spysats could tell the sheep from the goats, since the dummies A) won’t move at 30 kts, and B) won’t shoot ‘em off the pointy end and land ‘em on the blunt end.

  • GP43

    I’m just going to say that I’m not going to choose to get into a debate over what platforms are better or where exactly the navy should focus its force for the future. Subs, Carriers still have their own dynamic that they provide.
    But, it would seem to me that the quickest way to at least close this gap with the new Chinese BM would be to at least begin deploying the S3 missile, or an upgrade, to the AEGIS Fleet.
    Obviously, with the fall of The Soviet Union, maritime strategies have changed, but this navy has had to deal with fleet defense in the past and its not too far removed from doing so.

  • GP43

    Stephen Rex Says:

    With news about this Chinese Super-Carrier “Kill Weapon,” I’d just like to give thanks again to the former Clinton Administration for selling U.S. missile tech to the Chinese in exchange for campaign cash.

    Stephen, I will second you on that!

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    GP43,

    There are many factors beyond the missile system itself. Current AEGIS BMD is using existing radar systems, and while continously upgraded, a major ballistic missile defense network for the Navy will require a larger, more power hungry radar system.

    There is some question whether the political will exists to spend the money necessary to build ships large enough, and able to produce enough energy, for the types of radar systems needed, much less new intercept systems.

    Keep in mind the SM-3 is an evolution of the SM-2, the Navy is moving towards the SM-6, still a few years away and too big for the current VLS systems (meaning the only ship we are currently building that can support the SM-6 is the now truncated DDG-1000).

    The discussion of AEGIS BMD looking ahead moves beyond a single weapon system, and gets expensive very quickly.

  • GP43

    Galrahn

    I completely understand where your coming from as far as cost goes. But is the SM-3 project not designed to be incorporated as part of our land based ABM systems?
    I’m not disagreeing with you, everything you mentioned is understandable and thanks for the reply.
    It just amazes me that we’re not farther along even after learning that the Russians sold the Chinese the SS-N-22′s and that was what, almost 10 years ago? ( I know that it’s not a BM, but its said to be one of if not the deadliest ASM missile in the world.)

  • B.Smitty

    Byron,

    Why couldn’t we make 30kt “carrier dummies” to complicate their targeting? They just have to be the rough shape and size of a carrier to give a reasonable return, but could be based on commercial spec ships. They may not eve have to go 30kts because the CVBG doesn’t usually travel that fast anyway. Just put a flattop and island on an LMSR.

    Satellite or OTH radar targeting won’t be able to tell the difference, and even if it could, the tiny seeker head on an ASBM certainly won’t.

    Heck, we could even use these vessels as SPECOPs motherships when they’re not needed as decoys.

  • B.Smitty

    Galrahn,

    IIRC, SM-6 is just an SM-2 Block IV with an AMRAAM seeker head. I don’t think it’s meant for ABM.

    There’s talk of sea basing the gigantic KEI missile, but that won’t fit in any existing VLS tube.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/kei.htm

  • GP43

    B.Smitty Says:

    Would it not make sense tho for it to be ABM capable as the SM-3 s a kinetic warhead also?
    I find it hard o believe that its only primary use would be on satellites. You don’t need kinetic warheads for aircraft.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    GP43,

    A few things:

    The Navy developed AEGIS to counter SS-N-22 as part of spiral. The ‘super’ Sunburn defensive solutions were in place by the time the Burkes hit the sea. We spiraled into that, as we are with the current DF-21 threat with existing AEGIS BMD.

    Keep in mind AEGIS BMD has been run in cooperation with the MDA, not specifically the Navy. Most of the funding has been MDA, although the Navy has been contributing. AEGIS BMD, until the satellite shoot down last year, was the after thought of the MDA focus on ballistic missile defense.

    Even though it has the highest success rate, the most flexibility, and is the most mature of all the technologies. The Navy never wanted the floating golf ball, MDA did. If you look where the money for AEGIS BMD has gone, you’ll find it hasn’t been towards the fleet in any meaningful ways compared to other priorities, most of which still don’t work.

    The Obama administration, in my opinion, is absolutely right to review, and probably optimize the priorities, of MDA funding. I think in general, that would be a good thing for AEGIS BMD.

  • GP43

    Sorry, I should have added a link also.
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/sm3.htm

  • B.Smitty

    Obviously massive chaff clouds or high-powered RF jammers would be other methods for rendering ASBMs ineffective.

    Maybe we build big, chaff-shooter ships that just fire off carrier-sized chaff clouds all day.

    That’s probably cheaper than decoy ships.

    Hey! I just thought of a use for cambell’s blimps!! (sorry cambell – “airships”)

    With ten of them, covered in foil, flying over a CVBG – what’s a Mach 6 ASBM seeker to think?!

  • GP43

    Galrahn

    Ok, I see where you’re coming from. It was always my understanding that the Burkes and the Tico’s were in a sense, “The pride of the fleet”, (Next to the carriers that is) as well as the systems they incorporated because of their multi-dimensional capabilities.

  • http://verizon SJR

    Didn’t Clinton give the Chi Coms the guidance systems they needed to advance missle tech. in trade for campaign funds?

  • Randy Dean

    I think everyone is missing the real point of this new weapon. The reality is that the aircraft carrier is quickly reaching the point where it is a dinosaur. It is becoming too expensive to protect so it’s vulnerability is now becoming as much of a weakness as a strength.

    I don’t believe it will be possible to dominate the oceans from the oceans as we have in the past. While this was critical to America’s growth into a super power starting with the Barbary Wars, the new critical battleground will be space. Let China spend all it’s money on catching up with our Navy, we should leapfrog thier developments by focusing on dominating space in the 21st century the way we did the latter half of the 20th century.

  • http://informationdissemination.blogspot.com/ Galrahn

    Randy,

    There is some truth in what you are saying, but we still live on a planet dominated by the seas, connected by the seas.

    China’s 21st century strategy is space, sea, cyber, and soft power. Noteworthy the country with the most people is less concentrated on its build up of land power than it is on its sea power.

    We would be wise to study this, and consider thoughtfully the role of sea power among great nations, both in history and today.

    War at sea in the 21st century is easier from the sea rather than towards the sea, particularly if the space power of modern powers is neutralized.

    The weapon system is one but many elements to a comprehensive sea denial strategy China is developing; we would be wise not to overemphasize its capabilities as well.

  • GP43

    Is this new Chinese BM going to be a land based system or will they drop them in their new Type 094 boats?

  • http://www.militaryairships.blogspot.com campbell

    @ B.Smitty

    HA! Loved it!

  • virgil xenophon

    Remember the ski-equipped F-102s? The XF2Y Sea Dart? And the all-Jet Martin Sea-plane, the P6M2 Sea-Master? Perhaps it’s time to re-think those aircraft. An updated Sea-Master could be staged out of all sorts of home bases/ports–be they Japan, Korea, Taiwan (oops-Jimmy Carter gave that deal away) Okinawa etc., (maybe even Vietnam will let us use DaNang or Chu Lai–they’re always feuding with the Chinese
    over the South China Sea) to forward areas such as shoals, reefs, etc. to use as launch areas for the mother ships–flying battleships, really, aerial mini-”Arsenal ships”–to launch long-range pre-programmed inertial guidance w. terminal homing TLAMs (back to the future–avoids Chinese jamming of data links) to launch against pre-planned hard tgts on China’s coast. And could send up-dated Sea Darts w. the Sea-Masters as escorts. Could modify some Sea-Masters as tankers to act as self-sustaining battle group. Wouldn’t be the total answer, but would complicate the other side’s day considerably, no? As wouldn’t give the Chinese a critical mass trackable hard tgt to aim at.

  • RJC

    O is president and you folks are talking about fighting?

  • Byron

    Point number 1: Since it seems that some of the thrust of this argument is to imply that the carrier is past it’s prime, I submit, how many bases can the US Air Force use that can be on-call, on-station, for sustained combat ops in the AO(WestPac)? Keep in mind, that your friends today might tomorrow decide that their national interests do not allow you to use your assets for combat ops…anyone remember Lybia? How many F-111s did we lose..before they got to the IP? Carriers and their associated escorts which not only provide AAW and ASW but also T-LAMs are a potent asset. Personally, this ballistic carrier killer sounds like smoke and mirrors. In WW2, with aircraft in close proximity to the carrier, it took a lot of bombs dropped to get one on target. Also, how much reaction mass is this thing going to have? And we’re not going to see it loft? Or be able to compute the basket?

    Second point: carrier dummies? You think a spysat can’t discrimate between a container ship and a freakin’ CVN? Puh-lease. Not to mention, we’re having to scrape up money now to keep ships operational now, you want to spend a serious piece of change on a faint hope?

    The sky AIN’T falling.

  • GP43

    Byron

    You’re right, we had three or four planes that had to RTB (Thanks France) during the Libya raid and than lost 1 over Tripoli.
    Personally, carriers will always be around, but as the technologies evolve, so must the strategy’s to use them. That’s what I really fear. I fear we’re short cutting strategy by spending more on technology.
    The Chinese on the other hand seem to be doing both. Realistically, I’m not sure that if there was a conflict with China over somewhere like Taiwan, that carriers would need to be as vital as they are made to be. At least initially. You have a number of locations that could provide air cover.

  • virgil xenophon

    Byron/

    I’m not selling carriers short. I was IN Tripoli the night of the revolution with my Squadron when they kicked us out, remember? I’ve ALWAYS argued–as did Napoleon, btw–that coalition warfare can be an iffy thing if your absolutely depending on foreign bases, etc. My only suggestion involved the Navy’s use of a once rejected sub-set of weapons platforms whose time may have come again. Or do you think my suggestion regarding sea-planes carrying lots of TLAMs as hard-to-tgt long-range strike alternatives is all wet?

  • B.Smitty

    Byron,

    An imaging spysat might be able to (depending on the fidelity of your dummy and their imagery), but radar satellites and OTH radars may not have the resolution to tell a real carrier from a dummy.

    And even if they can, the small radar stuck on the head of a Mach 6 missile may not be able to. It might only have time to sort out the first big target it finds, whether that’s a chaff cloud, an LMSR with mock flight deck, or a tinfoil-wrapped Turtle Airship.

  • Dave Kisor

    As for mockups, back in 1967, the Egyptian AF built wooden mockups and placed them all around, but the Israeli AF used IR and determined where the real targets were by their thermal signature and not a single mockup was hit. Cesspool la vie! All that good wood work for nothing.

    A while back, I’d read China was manufacturing sensitive electronics for some of our weapons systems? Are they still doing this and why is it permitted, especially now they have developed a system to destroy our carriers? McDonnel Douglas had a specialized milling machine the employees wanted to buy, but during the tech giveaway, China wanted it to “sweeten the deal”, so Clinton and the rest of his gang of maladroits gave it to them, after being assured it would only be used for peaceful purposes. Yeah right, and I have a bridge in San Francisco for sale, cheap. Then there was the EP-3E they forced down, studied, cut into pieces and made us pay for its shipment stateside. Why can’t we do something like that to them? What would they do, shut down the great walmart of China?

    As for sea planes, why don’t we have one? The Coast Guard would probably put them to good use and the Air Force used the HU-16 Albatross in air sea rescue, so the Navy wouldn’t be the only user.

    One consolation, when the Three Gorges Dam collapses, China will be in very deep doodoo. Geologists from all over the world have said when, not if, so that should have an affect on the overall picture.

  • KPS

    What seems to be missing from this entire debate is the woeful state of fundamental seamanship skills per the January Proceedings and its interconnection with new platforms and their efficacy in the execution of 4th generation warfare at sea.

    The ability to fully integrate in a seamless fashion with the global commercial maritime system is going to be key. Insurgent targets that will affect our nation’s economy are underway across the oceans. New protocols and tactics will need to be developed by mariner warriors who are trained to understand and operate in both worlds. STCW qualifications should be a minimum for all Navy watchstanders.

    It is no accident that the next commander of MSC is a Kings Pointer. It is a step in the right direction.

  • http://www.usni.org admin

    I’m posting this comment on behalf of someone who sent his comment in via email:
    ******************************************************************
    You might find interesting, and perhaps useful, the following 11 points regarding Chinese landmobile, MaRV’d, anti-ship ballistic missiles. They come from what I believe to be the only unclassified briefing on this subject (available on request), last presented publicly at the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute annual conference in December, although this issue is gaining steam in American unclassified fora.

    The Tom Freeman painting on the U.S. Naval Institute web site — a burning Nimitz class aircraft carrier after an ASBM attack, is an obvious manifestation of this increased attention:

    http://www.usni.org/index.asp
    Maryland Artist and longtime Naval Institute supporter Tom W. Freeman says this alarming scene “came to me after talking to a friend at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, who told me about a ballistic missile the Chinese had developed. At the time, he said we were unable to combat it. I did the painting to make the powers that be aware that this is what it might look like if a missile attacked an American carrier. I was told that it was designed to disable the carrier’s air operations, not to sink it.”

    Fundamentally, Chinese ASBMs –- and China’s asymmetric strategy for “control of the sea from the shore” — have profound implications for the U.S. Navy and for American global strategy.

    Recently I was asked to summarize my views on this capability:

    1. China is pursuing the development of very long range, landmobile, maneuverable re-entry vehicle-equipped, anti-ship ballistic missiles — apparently part of the DF-21 family of IRBMs. This unprecedented anti-access capability has several ramifications.

    2. This capability is not yet in hand, but the Chinese appear to believe that they can develop the technologies and integrate the individual systems required. In part, they are exploiting earlier Soviet and American developments. Watch for at-sea testing to gauge Chinese progress and intentions — akin to their shooting down an old satellite to make the point that they can do it.

    3. China wants to thwart American global strategic mobility and power projection. Chinese ASBMs are a “keep out” capability designed to range and attack naval surface platforms, which are the centerpiece of American naval power, and the basis for the U.S. global deterrence strategy.

    4. Chinese ASBMs represent a remarkably asymmetric Chinese attempt to control the sea from the shore.

    5. Imagine if very long range artillery had been developed that had great range and accuracy, and was land mobile, making counterbattery fire virtually impossible. Then someone had the bright idea to turn it seaward, and make it capable of hitting a ship underway. That’s what China’s landmobile, MaRV’d anti-ship ballistic missile amounts to — extraordinarily long range coastal artillery.

    6. This capability depends upon, and represents the real advent of, network warfare. These missiles have to be targeted into the general area of a naval target, where their internal guidance systems can take over. Like the Soviets before them, the Chinese are trying to solve this difficult reconnaissance-strike problem. Unlike the Soviets, the Chinese appear to believe that they can make this complex capability work.

    7. For the United States, future security depends upon unimpeded naval power. Dealing with a complex, fractious, and increasingly insecure world will require being able to exploit the maritime external lines of communication. China’s development of ASBMs makes moving to and remaining in near-ashore sea areas problematic. “Getting there will be half the fun.”

    8. Much depends upon whether the Chinese can succeed in developing this ASBM capability. For persistent, long term operations, the American Navy currently is based primarily on aircraft carriers and their embarked air wings. Without extraordinary efforts to provide for air-to-air refueling, naval aircraft have an effective tactical radius of less than 1,000 nautical miles. The DF-21 — a relatively short range option for this ASBM capability — has a range of approximately 1500 nautical miles.

    9. The numbers are in China’s favor. Even if U.S. and allied naval defenses are perfect – every interceptor hits and destroys an inbound ASBM – naval magazines are very limited, severely limiting defense, and magazines cannot be reloaded at sea. This is a glaring deficiency, and turns high tech, network warfare into a simple battle of attrition.

    10. Chinese ASBMs have dramatic implications for Joint operations, and for the other Services. No other American military operations – air, ground, or amphibious — are feasible in a region where the U.S. Navy cannot operate. The strategic intent is to put at severe risk American power projection systems built for short range, persistent operations in the Asian littoral and China’s maritime approaches. Conversely, ballistic missiles ranging American bases and en route facilities make naval operations very problematic.

    11. This capability, once developed, will escalate in its sophistication and effectiveness, and proliferate widely over time, further complicating American military posture as China’s “gift that keeps on giving”.


    Warm regards,

    Paul

    Paul S. Giarra
    President
    Global Strategies & Transformation
    703.615.4114
    psgiarra@gsandt.net

  • Old Squid

    Anyone ever thought of conventional ballistic counter-battery fire?

    About the airship thing. Why are they never propelled by jets? Big honking turbo-fans. I have often thought that these would make sense for some sort of AWAC with extremely LONG legs.

    What about sub-launched AA missiles, suicide-kill UCAV’s? Lob some sort of sub-launched AAMRAAM out the tubes after you launch the Tomahawks. Once your fly is open after launch, you might as well launch something that can take out the ASW helo’s, right? Doesn’t take much to crap out a helo. Even if they survive, it might buy you enough time to egress the datum. Might curb their enthusiasm for the hunt as well.

  • Gil Garver

    The point that the author states that the event of a war between China and the US is remote because of trading ties is both plausible and logical. However history does have its exceptions. Before World War I, France was Germany’s biggest trading partner. It should also be pointed out that in a very very strongly controlled govt such as China, a change in leadership can radically alter that nations militarism. Witness how an off his rocker head of state like Kaiser Wilhelm singlehandedly brought his nation to war, ditto of course Hitler. Thus let us not be too sanguine about China. I would also like to point out that indeed our relations with China are at this point benign. It can be brought out that the relations between China and Russia are more antagonistic. One wonders if the new weapons systems that China brings out are more of a warning to Russia than they are to us.

  • Sankey Blanton ’71

    The need for ‘blimps’ is as simple as “eyes in the sky”. However manned platforms are more expense than anyone wants to deal with at this time. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Army have already developed the proper application of hanging a search radar at the right height to detect small craft (or ground vehicles) approaching by looking down on the sea surface with doppler and computer assisted tracking.

    This whole system could be packaged in a container to help guide the merchant ships through the pirate infested regions and straights. The organizations that should be most interested in this advanced warning technology application are the shipping ‘Insurance’ companies. Fore warned is fore armed. A merchant vessel with adequate warning of an approaching small craft could send out a timely distress signal ‘RRR’ and turn out the crew to man the fire hoses. Any naval vessel from an International Patrol could launch their helicopter, manned or unmanned and close the gap.

    The system of world trade is built on fewer large tanker and cargo vessels than were sunk in the Second World War. It is to the advantage of all international trading partners to have clear, safe, and open shipping lanes in order to move commerce. It is our problem that there are less American Flag vessels carrying the trade – if we can set up a secure defense of the American Flag vessels by use of blimp borne radar and satellite links to central monitoring stations, then we provide the technological leadership. For an International Flotilla, the primary advantage would be to actually doing some OJT while out showing their flag to the rim countries.

    If an American Flag vessel is equipped with an airborne radar and high speed link the response forces in the area, other merchants may just want to sail nearby to be within the protective radar bubble. Other than that, an International Patrol is the Politically Correct solution. China would be more than happy to join in for really effective Naval training.

    History indicates that China is mainly concerned about China and holding on to power in a land of billions as they develop economically to the Trading Tiger that they should have been for the last 50 years. To trot out the “fear factor” because they want to build up a Naval Force that would be appropriate for their coastal waters is the tactic of Eisenhower”s “Military Industrial Complex”. We can’t justify expansion of our Navy unless we can claim to have a well armed ‘enemy’.

    Aircraft Carriers are easy to find and sink with cruise missile technology, submarines, long range stealth bombers, and good old naval mines laid clandestinely in a handful of select ports. As long as you have a High Value Target which you make the ‘lynch pin’ of your whole Naval Strategy, someone out there will be working on a method to penetrate the defensive screen and strike the HVT. The reason that Aircraft Carriers are a threat is that they can project power from the sea. The reason that they are easy to cripple is that they are full of AV fuel, munitions, aircraft, electronics, and power propulsion plants – i.e. they are really large targets just waiting for something to go wrong at the wrong place and wrong time.

    It is time to stop thinking about 1940′s (20th century) Naval Victories with Aircraft Carriers (not unlike WWI Battleship fleets) and determine if we really want to project force into the China Seas, and why. If someone put a Carrier Battle group in the Gulf of Mexico, would we not consider that a threat to the security of the United States. China as every right to consider the South and East China Sea as part of their Homeland Defensive area.

  • Ken

    The best option is to back off Tawian.The chinnise need to unite their indigeous people under one China policy.Look the British gave back Hongkong,just give this territory back and back off.Your presence their with Carriers in 1996 forced the Chinnese to built DF-21.

  • TeXan

    This is a real cool discussion. If true the Carrier Killer will invalidate the majority of the US Navy reason to be. Carriers would still be useful in antipiracy ops and in allowing large numbers of sailors to have port calls in exotic locations however.

    On a slow news day they can still trot out the film about 8000 meals on a carrier.

    How has the Navy babboozled the defense budget in the era of essentially no naval threats to continue to hog the budget. Its time to review the Key West agreement.

  • http://ranchcryogenics.com air separation plants

    If war at sea is historically, and by definition, a war of attrition, and political policy is established that no ships at all are expendable, even low intensity fighting forces, the only translation and conclusion one can make under such a policy is that no losses at sea are acceptable. ould modify some Sea-Masters as tankers to act as self-sustaining battle group. Wouldn’t be the total answer, but would complicate the other side’s day considerably, no? As wouldn’t give the Chinese a critical mass trackable hard tgt to aim at.

  • http://aquilinefocus.blogspot.com/ Vigilis

    When China’s miltary analysts read this piece for random tidbits of useful information, they will likely be as disappointed as I.

    While the article is well-written and certainly of interest, the speculation is very restrained. Any military anticipating engagement with China’s must both expect and muster the unexpected(Sun Tzu).

    As a few commenters have suggested, when a hardware war with China becomes unavoidable, and our CVNs are positioned in harm’s way, how does the U.S. protect them from today’s straw man, the DF-21 ballistic missile?

    Multiple choice answers are relatively few, and any hardware possibilities among them seem rather questionable. Let’s not bother to list the esoteric, however.

    Given that flagships make the juiciest, floating targets visible to the naked eye, and given that the presence of admirals makes them more delectable, soft solutions may boil down to who can we make certain is also aboard that the PRC would not wish to make a collateral victim.

    While it may be safe to rule out the Dalai Lama, China knows exactly who the best candidates are. Oil trading partners spring to mind.

  • http://www.imapr4u.com stanley hoffmann

    Interesting article and discussion…

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