A few articles and some thoughts for the week …Eighteen U.S. Navy ships have the capability to engage ballistic missiles

With the important and continuing discussion of China’s new anti-ship ballistic missiles being discussed on the U.S. Navy Institute Blog and elsewhere (special thanks to Raymond Pritchett -AKA galrahn- for bringing this subject to the public’s attention) it’s also important to remember that these weapons haven’t exactly caught the U.S. Navy defenseless. In fact, as fellow Naval Institute author Norman Polmar correctly explained this past January, there are 18 U.S. Navy ships with the ability to engage ballistic missiles — and these capabilities are growing.

Lockheed Martin has even sent out some rather informative press releases on the subject of Aegis ballistic missile defense …

So while the threat from China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles are indeed serious, it’s also important to highlight the fact that U.S. and allied forces have placed a very high priority on defending against ballistic and cruise missiles – some even argue that this has been done at the expense of other equally important (if somewhat more conventional) threats that include anti-submarine, mine countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, etc.

Perhaps the real question is … what is the right balance for defending against all of the many threats faced by our naval forces?

And not far away in India …

India has always had high hopes for its Navy. As I wrote in my March 2008 Proceedings article on World Navies in Review, India had previously announced plans to expand its current fleet of roughly 140 warships to 185 by 2017. Just today, however, I read an article that indicates India may be scaling back some of these blue water dreams and is now aiming for a force of some 160 warships by 2022.

I’m not sure if either goal will be met, but as with all things related to the budget … only time will tell.


And this week’s international navies photos is … The Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov


Full Caption: The Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov (DDG 572) is underway near the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) while conducting operations in the Gulf of Aden. Vella Gulf is the flagship for Combined Task Force 151, a multi-national task force conducting counterpiracy operations to detect and deter piracy in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Red Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky/Released)


Posted by Eric Wertheim in Foreign Policy, Maritime Security

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  • For anyone interested, Robert Kaplan is taking questions electronically at the Foreign Affairs magazine website regarding geopolitics and the Indian Ocean. Arguably, the biggest near-term naval powers in that region will be India and China…and also perhaps Russia. I’m interested in seeing the results of Dr. Kaplan’s Q&A and the implications it has for seapower and U.S. policy.