30 May 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Development: Drivers, Trajectories, and Strategic Implications

Andrew S. Erickson, Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Development: Drivers, Trajectories, and Strategic Implications, Jamestown Occasional Paper (Washington, DC: Jamestown Foundation, May 2013).

China’s anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), the DF-21D, has reached the equivalent of Initial Operational Capability. Although it probably has been deployed in small numbers, additional challenges and tests remain. This 160-page monograph examines the ASBM’s capability and history, showing how the DF-21D meets multiple priorities in Chinese defense modernization and in the national security bureaucracy as well its implications for the United States. The ASBM’s physical threat to U.S. Navy ships will be determined by the development of associated systems and organizations, which currently limit data fusion and coordination in the complex task of identifying a U.S. aircraft carrier in the open ocean. Still, the ASBM poses a direct threat to the foundations of U.S. power projection in Asia and will undermine the U.S. position, unless efforts to counter its political-military effects are taken.

Dr. Andrew S. Erickson is an Associate Professor at the U.S. Naval War College and an Associate in Research at Harvard University’s John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author and in no way represent the policies or estimates of the U.S. Navy or any other organization of the U.S. government.


“Andrew S. Erickson is a leading authority on Chinese naval developments. His research and linguistic abilities are matched by his careful, systematic analysis. In this work Erickson thoroughly surveys the existing literature in English and Chinese addressing Beijing’s efforts to deploy antiship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) able to strike large warships at ranges of more than a thousand miles …a thoughtful evaluation of current Chinese efforts to defend the homeland and exert control over the waters Beijing believes vital to national-security interests. Also impressive is Erickson’s appreciation of the possibility of “deeply destabilizing” strategic effects of successful Chinese maritime control strategies on the Asian political situation—that is, a successful ASBM will not simply be a tactical weapon. This is a book that every naval officer and civilian analyst must read.”

Prof. Bernard D. Cole, Ph.D., National Defense University, review in Naval War College Review 67.2 (Spring 2014): 134-35.

“Andrew Erickson offers a thoughtful counterbalance to the official dogma that we have a technological lead sufficient to ensure that our aircraft carriers remain relevant even against the broad and deep efforts of other nations to render them quite vulnerable. If we don’t seek and incorporate disconfirming advice such as his into our assessments, we may have a strategic surprise which clarifies the situation – but on terms unhelpful to us and our allies.”

Greg LeGore, “Uses Original Sources to Offset Our Smug Over-Confidence,” 5 Star Rating, Amazon.com, 30 March 2014.