This blog does not normally focus on military weapons systems, but the Financial Times today reported that a very significant new Chinese weapons system has now become operational and this changes the strategic balance in the Western Pacific.
The emergence of land based anti-ship missiles is something that has been subject to cognitive denial by world navies, ever since the first successful use by Germany in 1943. The recent decision of the UK government to continue to build two aircraft carriers that are likely to be useless anywhere near a hostile modern state’s coast is evidence of this. Most surface ships are obsolete unless some defence can be found. Submarines are a clear alternative, but somehow navies don’t seem to understand this new reality. It is as if they cannot compute that land based missiles can sink ships, very much as the British Admiralty could not understand the threat of aircraft to British battleships, until the HMS Prince of Wales (ironically the name of one of the new British carriers) and HMS Repulse were sunk off Singapore in 1941 with heavy loss of life.
Anyway this is the Wikipedia article on the relevant weapon system which has a range of 1900 miles, from mobile easy to conceal land based launchers and is virtually unstoppable and can sink an aircraft carrier with conventional explosive.
DF-21D (CSS-5 Mod-4) Anti-ship ballistic missile
The US Department of Defense has stated that China is developing a conventionally-armed high hypersonic land-based anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) based on the DF-21, with a range of up to 3,000 km (1,900 mi). This would be the world’s first and only ASBM and the world’s first weapons system capable of targeting a moving aircraft carrier strike group from long-range, land-based mobile launchers. These would combine maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRVs) with some kind of terminal guidance system. Such a missile may have been tested in 2005-6, and the launch of the Jianbing-5/YaoGan-1 and Jianbing-6/YaoGan-2 satellites would give the Chinese targeting information from SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and visual imaging respectively. The upgrades would greatly enhance China’s ability to conduct sea-denial operations to prevent US carriers from intervention in the Taiwan Strait. A professor at the U.S. Naval War College states that DF-21D highlights the fact that the U.S. can no longer assume naval supremacy as it has since the end of World War II.