25 July 2011

Defending the Fleet from China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile: Naval Deception’s Roles in Sea-Based Missile Defense

Jonathan F. Solomon, Defending the Fleet from China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile: Naval Deception’s Roles in Sea-Based Missile Defense, M.A. thesis, Georgetown University, 15 April 2011.

This thesis project tests the hypothesis that U.S. Navy active missile defenses’ utility against China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) reconnaissance-strike system can be significantly increased when paired with emerging Electronic Warfare (EW) technologies and novel tactical deception concepts. Qualitative open source-based technical, tactical, and doctrinal analyses of China’s ocean surveillance, reconnaissance, and ASBM strike systems are conducted to outline their likely capabilities and limitations. Qualitative process-tracing is next used within a historical case study of how the U.S. Navy employed EW and tactical deception during the Cold War to defend aircraft carrier battle groups against Soviet ocean surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike systems. The case study’s data and conclusions are then used to qualitatively infer the ASBM concept’s inherent technical, tactical, and doctrinal vulnerabilities. Following this, emerging EW technologies are identified that have the theoretical potential to exploit Chinese radars, electro-optical and infrared sensors, radiofrequency direction-finding/Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) systems, satellite communication networks, and decision-making systems. EW’s theoretical influence on a naval surface force’s active missile defenses’ effectiveness against ASBMs is also qualitatively assessed. The case study’s conclusions and the analysis of emerging EW technologies are additionally used to derive potential U.S. Navy tactical deception concepts as well as recognize the prerequisites for their effective use. Lastly, EW and tactical deception’s implications for U.S. maritime strategy and conventional deterrence against Chinese aggression in East Asia are assessed.

Table of Contents


Section I: The Operational-Strategic Environment in East Asia

Section II: The Chinese Ocean Surveillance System

Section III: The ASBM Strike System

Section IV: Case Study: U.S. Navy EW and Deception Against the Soviet Ocean Surveillance and Reconnaissance-Strike Systems, 1958-1991

Section V: Assessing the Chinese Ocean Surveillance and ASBM Reconnaissance-Strike Systems

Section VI: Promising EW Technologies and Techniques for ASBM Defense

Section VII: Anti-ASBM EW Implementation Concepts for the U.S. Navy

Conclusion: Implications for U.S. Conventional Deterrence in East Asia


For recent analysis from Taipei, see Taiwan 2011 National Defense Report: DF-21D ASBMs ‘have been produced and deployed in small numbers in 2010’.”

For the latest analysis of official Chinese statements, see “General Chen Bingde, PLA Chief of General Staff, Becomes First Chinese Official to Confirm Publicly that “2,700 km-Range” DF-21D Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) is in Development; “Not Operational Yet” by PLA Definition.”

For the latest analysis and sources on Chinese ASBM development, see “China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) Reaches Equivalent of ‘Initial Operational Capability’ (IOC)—Where It’s Going and What it Means.”

Detailed analysis by top subject matter experts of Chinese ASBM development and strategic implications is offered in five dedicated chapters in Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldstein, eds., Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011).

For an explanation of Chinese ASBM development and its larger implications, see the China Maritime Studies Institute Lecture of Opportunity, Chinese Sources Discuss the ASBM Threat to the U.S. Navy,” that I presented at the Naval War College on 21 March 2011.

For detailed analysis of Admiral Willard’s statement regarding China’s ASBM reaching IOC, see Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, China Deploys World’s First Long-Range, Land-Based ‘Carrier Killer’: DF-21D Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) Reaches ‘Initial Operational Capability’ (IOC),” China SignPost™ (洞察中国), No. 14 (26 December 2010).

For further background on Chinese ASBM development, see also “China Testing Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM); U.S. Preparing Accordingly–Updated With Latest Analysis & Sources.”