28 January 2010

Take China’s ASBM Potential Seriously

Andrew Erickson,Take China’s ASBM Potential Seriously,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 136, No. 2 (February 2010), p. 8.

If developed and deployed successfully, a Chinese antiship ballistic missile (ASBM) system of systems would be the world’s first capable of targeting a moving aircraft carrier strike group from long-range, land-based mobile launchers that could make defenses against it difficult and/or highly escalatory.

Some assume that because the engineering problem proved unsolvable for the Soviet Union in the 1970s, it must remain unsolvable for China in the 21st century. The Soviets’ failure to solve a similar problem using vacuum tube and early transistor technology illustrates the difficulty of successfully attacking a carrier with a ballistic missile, but is by no means predictive. China enjoys the latecomer’s advantage in employing technology, has mastered ballistic missile technology, and has better satellite capabilities now than the Soviet Union had then. …