01 September 2011

Chinese Aerospace Power Highlighted by Bradley Perrett in Aviation Week ASBM Analysis

Bradley Perrett, Pacific Projections: Could—And Would—China Target U.S. Ships with its DF-21D Ballistic Missile?Aviation Week & Space Technology, 29 August-5 September 2011: 67-68.

China’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile system presents one of the world’s most decisive challenges in the field of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), with potentially far-reaching consequences for international affairs. …

The main purpose of the DF-21D—already in service, according to the U.S., but still in development, according to China—is to ward off U.S. naval intervention in China’s local fights. …

Each possible source of ISR for the DF-21D looks vulnerable in its own way, helping to explain why the U.S. Navy says it can break the kill chain for the missile. Yet it seems that in many links, information could be collected redundantly, so breaking one does not mean breaking the chain. If the ISR is not defeated, U.S. ships could have to rely on limited loads of interceptor missiles for survival. Analyst Eric Hagt of the World Security Institute sees at least five means of picking up the approximate location of ships: electronic-intelligence (elint) satellites, over-the-horizon (OTH) radar, submarines, ships, and aircraft. …

…if China and the U.S. were already shooting at one another, then large Chinese manned aircraft could hardly be used over the Pacific. They would need backing from combat aircraft, analyst Garth Hekler writes in the new book Chinese Aerospace Power. Because China’s air-to-air refueling capabilities so far are limited, however, that backing probably would not be available. …

The fifth detection-and-cueing system potentially at China’s disposal is OTH radar. “China likely has at least one OTH system up and running and may have up to three,” Hagt writes in Chinese Aerospace Power. …

For complete information on the book mentioned here, see Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldstein, eds., Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011).

For the latest official analysis on the status of Chinese ASBMs, see “English-Language Version of 2011 ROC National Defense Report Confirms: ‘a small quantity of’ DF-21D ASBMs ‘were produced and deployed in 2010, increasing the difficulty of military maneuvers in the region for the U.S. Army.’

For a link to, and a rough translation of, the Chinese-language edition of this report, see “Taiwan 2011 National Defense Report: DF-21D ASBMs ‘have been produced and deployed in small numbers in 2010’.”

Comments on China’s ASBM by a Pentagon spokeswoman are available in “Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg: ‘China Has “Workable” Anti-Ship Missile Design, Pentagon Says’.”

For analysis of the latest 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 recent 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.”