29 June 2010

Erickson Quoted in South China Morning Post on East China Sea Military Exercises

Greg Torode, Fears Grow that PLA May Test ‘Carrier Killer,’” South China Morning Post, 30 June 2010.

Whenever China conducts military exercises or tests, the growing band of foreign analysts charting its modernisation wonder whether it will launch the game-changer – the so-called “aircraft-carrier killer” that no nation has yet tested. …

Respected US-based military scholar Dr Andrew Erickson said that while he had no specific information, this could be the week.

“We cannot rule out that possibility,” Erickson, an associate professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute of the US Naval War College, said. “Beijing has reason to believe that multiple days of tests will receive significant attention and even trigger adverse political reactions.

“So for the tests to be worthwhile, they would probably have to not only produce useful technical results but also have significant deterrent effects in the eyes of China’s decision-makers … These standards could only be met if the tests were sophisticated and successful.” …

Erickson noted a number of indications that China had reached the point where advanced ASBM tests were possible and needed for a weapon “that China has so clearly prioritized”.

He cited the reported completion of a rocket motor factory for the DF-21D and the recent launch of five advanced Yaogan satellites. Three of those had been placed in the same orbit in March, giving improved coverage of China’s maritime periphery.

The timing of tests this week could reflect the “desire to pressure the US Navy not to hold exercises involving carrier strike groups with its South Korean counterpart in areas near China’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, and the perception that the July 4 weekend would be a time of reduced press coverage and activity”, Erickson said.

It was likely China wanted international scrutiny of such a test, he added. …

Erickson noted that China had long-planned “saturation” attacks on a carrier strike group, harnessing a range of weapons from fast missile boats to ballistic missiles launched from land.

“We might therefore expect the PLA to test a variety of missiles from a variety of platforms, both to test progress [of capabilities] … as well as [to demonstrate] a high level of resolve.”