August 6th, 2010

China takes aim at US aircraft carriers

I guess it’s not enough that we’re deeply indebted to China, and getting more so each day. Now comes the news that China has nearly perfected a missile aimed at our supercarriers:

…an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles)…

The weapon, a version of which was displayed last year in a Chinese military parade, could revolutionize China’s role in the Pacific balance of power, seriously weakening Washington’s ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea. It could also deny U.S. ships safe access to international waters near China’s 11,200-mile (18,000-kilometer) -long coastline.

Great news, no? Nor should it come as a surprise. China has been working on this for a long time, its navy having been “funded by annual double-digit increases in the defense budget for almost every year of the past two decades.”


24 Responses to “China takes aim at US aircraft carriers”

  1. Baklava Says:

    I read this story yesterday.

    I served on the USS Enterprise.

    You want to get a country angry? You do what China is planning…

  2. Scottie Says:

    This weapon has been in development for years – I’m certain the US Navy has not been sitting on it’s hands waiting for it to become operational before they decided what to do about it.

    This weapon requires quite a bit of lauch support – just like the SCUDs did. Take out the launchers and that missile is nothing but a very large paperweight.

    The weapon is probably not as dangerous as a cruise missile. Cruise missiles skim the surface at low altitude and would be difficult to take out at a distance.

    Ballistic missiles, on the other hand, go wayyyyyy high – and would make a much easier target for anti-missile measures in the carrier fleet.

    The US Navy has been converting boomers into conventional warhead platforms. Instead of a Sherwood Forest of nukes, several of them now carry conventional missiles.

    These subs can go about anywhere and are quieter than anything else on the planet. Should China decide to rattle it’s sabre and threaten the carrier battle groups, expect most if not all of these converted boomers to quietly move into position.

    Please reference my first point regarding the vulnerability of the Chinese missile launchers….

    Then there are the more conventional anti-missile defenses the US Navy has developed over the past several decades, everything from lasers to anti-satellite missile ships to make every ship in the task force look like an aircraft carrier to incoming missiles (the Chinese missile would have to figure out which was the real target).

    For some reason, I’m not too worried over this development.

  3. Artfldgr Says:

    Well, that’s not all they have, and there is a ton of stuff that is not reported, or connected.

    like the buying of 120 illumina sequencing machines, which will give them more genetic sequencing power than the whole of the united states and in one building.

    combine that with the report on developing genotype genetic weapons, among other things… and you have a big potential.

    how long before they have the DNA profiles of every leader? and how long before they develop the information that feminists, and racialists prevent us from developing?

    that is, what could be done with a genetic report of most of the people in congress?

    I can lay out TONS of stuff that we are completely not in the know about as a cogent whole.

  4. Artfldgr Says:

    For some reason, I’m not too worried over this development.

    You should be

    their submarine popped up in the middle of our war games between our ships and we didn’t know it was there. remember the machines to make special screws where they stole the tech?

    and what about the 47 prosecutions that were not in the news?

    we do NOT have anything to counter this and many other things…

    remember that budget thing they credit Clinton with? that was the military money!!!

    take a look at the armor and such they use. its primitive for a reason… it will work after a nuclear blast where ours wont. that is, primitive is a necessity if the battle field lights up. and even funkier, until it does, it fulfills tsun tsu’s missive as to appearing weak when you are strong.

  5. Artfldgr Says:

    In the middle of a large American pacific exercise, a lone Chinese sub appeared undetected and within attack distance of the USS Kitty Hawk.

    American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk – a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.

    By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier.

    According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.

    The Americans had no idea China’s fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.

    One Nato figure said the effect was “as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik” – a reference to the Soviet Union’s first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age.

    do note that the soviet equipment has nuclear skirts on it…

  6. Artfldgr Says:

    The weapon is probably not as dangerous as a cruise missile.

    may i ask whether this is a judgment based on the stats of the weapon, or your judgment based on what?

    the missile goes at 10 times the speed of sound

    the speed of sound is 343 metres per second (1,125 ft/s). This equates to 1,236 kilometres per hour (768 mph)

    7680 mi per hour
    128 mi per minute
    2.2 mi per second

    given that the horizon is how many miles out?

    if the radar is only 100 feet high off the sea
    they can only see 25-50 miles

    at most they have 22 seconds from the time it tops the horizon.

    still think a cruise missile is more dangerous?
    its subsonic. that is, its not even 1/10th as fast
    [and this one may have the Russian adaptations]

    the hypersonic cruise missiles only go mach 5 or 6
    as of now we have nothing like this – its all defunded and still waiting.

    and before you say we do the Boeing X-51, just flew test flights this year

  7. Baklava Says:


    I don’t agree that we shouldn’t be worried.

    While we have cancelled appropriations for newer subs, jets, missiles, etc we are becoming more vulnerable to the newer technology….

    My girlfriend also believes that we have weapons and jets that simply exist underground somewhere.

    It’s not appropriated – it’s not paid for – it’s not in our budget. We don’t have it.

    We are getting complacent.

  8. Artfldgr Says:

    i forgot to mention

    if you saw it on the horizon, what would you shoot it with, and how long would it take to get clearance to fire?

    If current trends continue, missiles will replace gun systems completely in “first line” service. Guns are being increasingly pushed into specialist roles, such as the Dutch Goalkeeper CIWS which uses the GAU-8/A Avenger 30 mm seven-barrel Gatling Gun, or the US Phalanx CIWS which uses a 20 mm M61 Vulcan gun firing at over 4,500 rounds per minute for last ditch anti-missile and anti-aircraft fighting.

    i should also point out that they might use Metal Storm… it has over a million rounds per minute rate.
    [however we dont have those as a platform we can use]

    a new missile system, the Rolling Airframe Missile, which is smaller, faster, and allows for mid-flight course correction (guidance) to ensure a hit. An intermediary system, the Russian Kashtan CIWS, uses both guns and missiles for final defense: two six-barreled Gsh-30k guns and 9M311 surface to air missiles.

    rail gun?
    In February 2008 the US Navy tested a magnetic railgun; it fired a shell at 5,600 miles (9,000 km) per hour using 10 megajoules of energy. Its expected performance is over 13,000 miles (21,000 km) per hour muzzle velocity, accurate enough to hit a 5 meter target from 200 nautical miles (370 km) away while shooting at 10 shots per minute. It is expected to be ready in 2020 to 2025

    rail gun will be about 8 years too late..
    they have theirs now, and we have no idea how many they have, as they are not as stupid and open as we are, nor do they ingratiate themselves by rolling over and showing their belly like we do.

    basically, we are sleeping at the wheel believing in a post cold war world. as we have, they have ignored that point, and have raided every cookie jar and funded every lobby… including the CFL lobby to get them mandated and have them have a monopoly on the raw materials for it.

    As is also almost true of the rare earth metals. and note that the thing we have in great abundance and high concentrated ores like no other, we cant use. nuclear material. thanks to those lobbies proving to us that nuclear war is unworkable.

    take a look a hiroshima and ask how many years before they rebuilt on it and lived there?

    that sure doesnt make nuclear war seem impractical, does it? neither does chernobyl

    and russia has just decided not to sell grain as obama and them have decimated and crapped out our farming combining it with fuel needs and suger replacement, and new finance rules for the farms so they cant get credit and grow.

  9. ghost707 Says:

    About the only way ANYONE can take out a U.S. aircraft carrier is while it docked and motionless.
    On the sea, it is surrounded by missile defense ships capable of taking anything out – including surface-skimming missiles.

    It is almost a waste of time and money developing something like this – even if they sell this to rogue nations – the reprisal of sinking a U.S. carrier will be quite severe.

  10. anna Says:

    maybe obama is a Chinese manchurian candidate!!!

    I suppose if worse comes to worse we could always try to get the Chinese and Russians to fight each other…

  11. Michael Says:

    “the reprisal of sinking a U.S. carrier will be quite severe.”


    We would immediately surrender and the offending nation with be stuck with the foreign aid bill.


  12. rickl Says:

    the reprisal of sinking a U.S. carrier will be quite severe.

    It certainly should be, no question about it. But that assumes a U.S. government which still believes in national sovereignty.

    I think this sort of thing is definitely worth worrying about. I have no doubt that the Navy has developed countermeasures, and maybe this particular missile is not a serious threat. But it is only a matter of time until a true carrier-killing missile is developed. Battleships were once thought to be impervious to air attack, but Pearl Harbor put the lie to that belief. Since World War II the aircraft carrier has been the queen of the seas. Just because missiles haven’t yet been developed to the level of a threat doesn’t mean they won’t eventually be. I take it as a given that they will be.

    For the majority of Americans alive today, America has been the dominant military power for their entire lives. Too many literally can’t conceive of it being otherwise. The comment by Baklava’s girlfriend is a textbook example of magical thinking. (No offense intended.) If and when the day comes when it becomes evident that the U.S. is no longer militarily superior, it will be a much greater shock to those Americans than Sputnik or 9/11.

  13. Bob from Virginia Says:

    Michael brought up an interesting point. Suppose the US were attacked, like the embassy seizure, a Pueblo incident, marine barracks bombing, 9/11 or something like it? Unfortunately, the US reaction today is all too predictable.

    I am still amazed that the US responded by means other than words after 9/11; George Bush was cut from a different cloth.

    If I were an Iranian tyrant and wanted to thoroughly undercut US the myth of an American security shield I certainly would not let an Obama administration go to waste. Will they strike at us or lay low until they have nukes? The latter would be wisest but the former may be irresistible. Whichever choice the outcome will be the same.

  14. strcpy Says:

    “It is almost a waste of time and money developing something like this”

    Not really, there are more than a VERY few good reasons.

    I agree – I’m not too worried. Lets see it get by all the defenses of a carrier first. Carriers have *never* been potent on their own – indeed they are floating docks. That is true no matter the way you look at it – their personal firepower is their ability to launch other vessels (aircraft) and their defense/offense is in the carrier group, not the carrier. When said missile can get past all of that then I’ll worry.

    That being said I *do* worry that China is devoting a decent amount of resources on this. The idea that the world will be a better place when the military has to have bake sales to fight a war is too popular. China (and many other nations) understand this quite well and I do not think we will until we are forced too. They *will* get past our defenses if we go the way many want us too and I think it is currently at a balance point.

    I see too many programs killed that shouldn’t be. I say this not because I know for the most part, but from listening to the people who do. They will almost never denigrate (few higher ranking officers will even do it when out of office, though some do) but you can tell if they are upbeat, neutral, or debased. When the comment on a closing of a project is “It is the presidents choice on how we proceed and ours to make it work” it means they figure it was a horrid decision and can’t say it.

    Too many of those happened even under Bush Jr’s watch, let alone now. While it will take casualties the issue will eventually be forced and I’m still confident that we will respond correctly, it is just a matter of how many casualties will it take (and in that case I’m quite pessimistic that it will take many many many many many many more than it should).

  15. gpc31 Says:

    Two larger points:

    1) The historian Niall Ferguson gave a one hour video lecture entitled “Fiscal Crises and Imperial Collapses”, a survey of empires, in which he noted several recurring themes, one of them being the certainty of defense cuts. It’s happening now in the U.S. and will continue to happen.

    2) Peter Robinson’s podcast “Uncommon Knowledge” featured an interview with John Arquilla called “The New Rules of War” in which Mr. Arquilla argued for the concepts of net war, swarming, “small and many beat few and large”, “finding matters more than flanking”, etc.

    So: we are cutting our military budget even as our large military systems (e.g., aircraft carriers) are vulnerable to single point failure. Didn’t work so well for the Death Star, either.

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    Address the physics…

    Mach 10 skimming missile with side slide…

    everyone here is making an assumption as to the defenses of a carrier.

    what do you shoot this with?

    it covers 50 miles in 22 seconds..

    25 miles in 11

    this is why they are saying this will keep us far away from them… it doesn’t matter given the speed and its ability to shift sideways suddenly

    about the only thing that i know might work is metal storm.. 1.62 million rounds per minute

  17. OBloodyhell Says:

    LOL — surface ships have been seriously vulnerable ever since China developed a functional space program.

    Project Thor

    Cheap, once you write off the price of lift-to-orbit, and there’s not a lot of things you can do to stop them.

    Chances are, they exist, and that the USA certainly has ’em, Russia probably has ’em, China likely has ’em, and Japan, India, England, Israel, and France likely have deployable forms of them matching their own space capabilities, even if not currently operational.

  18. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Carriers have always been presumed vulnerable to land-based aircraft. See Midway, also to other carriers’ aircraft.
    Carriers exist to fight other carriers and surface ships.
    When the enemy has no significant airpower, carriers can move in close to be mobile air fields to support ground fighting until land-based fields can be procured or built.
    Even with sir superiority–everybody who flies against us dies–The Fleet That Came to Stay at Okinawa lost more men and ships than the Navy did at Pearl Harbor. We ended the kamikazes only by ending the war.

    I’d like to know more about the swarm manuver. The Cole was moored and the miscreant boat tied up along side. Don’t see the relevance of that.
    What were the ROE in the manuver? Pretending to be innocent fishing boats and so let to come close? Wait until they simulate shooting–or simulate blowing up to decide if they’re enemy?
    What happens if every boat within a couple of miles is sunk? Tough on the innocent fishermen–which is no doubt a plan to help the western left howl–but we knew that.

    Dirty little secret: If you’re going to intercept a ship, you’re on a constant bearing. No apparent move left or right. Means no Kentucky Windage for leading, only for range. Range can be calculated by one or another fancy, twenty-first century device. Or by spotting shot using tracers or splashes. The Ma Deuce has an effective range of 1500 meters, that being tracer burnout. Call it a short mile.
    A small boat can’t get tight to a large moving ship because the bow wave will push it away. Means the explosion, if any, will be some yards from the ship, with the force of the explosion dropping by the inverse square law. A boat big enough to push through the bow wave can’t manuver faster than a guy with a heavy machine gun, or the Oerlikon 25mm autocannon now on our ships, can swing the muzzle around. Remember, constant bearing.
    If a boat making sixty knots tries to catch up wiith one going thirty knots, the overtake speed is thirty knots. Means it will take just over two minutes to cover the last mile. Two minutes at constant bearing…. Want to juke around? You can do that, but the overtake time is considerably longer.

    Okay. Boats firing missiles. The smaller the missile, the closer the boat has to be. Using some anti-tank missile–the wire-guided type will short out over water, more than likely–might work, but the operator will be in a bouncing boat, under fire, trying to keep his sight on the target. Bigger missiles with bigger warheads over longer ranges means bigger boats to fire them and they’re easier targets at longer ranges.

    Most warships now have rapid fire guns from three-inch to five-inch. Some of the rounds are anti-aircraft with proximity fuses.
    Question: Does a proximity fuse fired at a surface target low over the water wait to explode at the target or just when it gets within a certain distance of a radar reflection and would water be that reflection? If so, could the fuse be modified?
    A proximity fuse has a small radar unit in the nose and is set to explode at a certain distance from the target, on the theory that actually hitting an aircraft is nearly impossible with big guns. But getting near enough for the explosion to be effective is much easier. A couple of these rounds fired at an attacker (small, fast, swarm type) at a couple of miles will destroy it, presuming the fuse doesn’t set off the warhead when approaching the water. Probably be fixed.
    For these and other considerations, I’d like to hear a lot more about the ROE and presumptions about the swarm manuver.
    I know we don’t want to have another Vincennes moment, but if the bad guys are putting their civilians into the line of fire to provide cannon fodder for our Democratic politicians, it’s on them.

    Somebody, possibly Wretchard, mused about the Iranians forcing us to do something we couldn’t force ourselves to do. Kill five million of them? What would we do to make them stop, say, setting of a nuke a month in the US? The current admin…one hates to think about it.

  19. Scottie Says:

    Ok, more cold water to toss on the hysterics…

    First of all, the basic missile the Chinese have re-purposed has been in service for almost 20 years. They have just modified it.

    It ain’t exactly something brand new.

    Second of all, the US Navy ALREADY has a ship based anti-missile system.

    Third, the anti-missile system noted in the previous point was actually modified to take out an orbiting satellite. It’s original design purpose was to take out incoming missiles.

    Please note that they went to great lengths to indicate their ability to not only hit the satellite – but to hit it specifically in it’s fuel tank.

    Precisely what they would be aiming for on a ballistic missile achieving apex at low orbit type altitudes.

    Fourth point, this same ship with this same system has now a proven system capable of taking out not only ICBMs, but also satellites.

    The Chinese missile in question is reliant upon satellite guidance to it’s target.

    Without satellites, again you have a very large paperweight.

    Satellites are by nature in stationary orbits, they are not all that maneuverable and are on predictable paths for interception.

    Should the Chinese decide to go to war, expect the US military to turn their satellite system off for them in short order.

    Fifth point, these Chinese missiles require launchers. Not only can the missiles be intercepted, but the launchers themselves are vulnerable to attack.

    As I pointed out before, the US already has the capability of taking out those launchers. Namely, with these big fellas:

    Please note how the US Navy decided to show off these ships:

    “Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on Sunday said the nuclear-powered [SSGN] submarines Michigan, Ohio and Florida surfaced in Busan, Subic Bay in the Philippines and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean around the same time.”

    Basically, nobody knew they were even there until they popped up in public view. IMO this was done deliberately to send a message.

    Last point – anyone taking on the US military is not taking on a single ship or tank or plane. They are taking on a unified entity with across the board communications.

    It may be, for instance, that the US Navy doesn’t worry about the anti-ship missile because the US Air Force is already sending in stealth bombers to take out the launchers.

    Oh, and never forget that the aircraft carrier doesn’t have to come in that close – it’s planes are going to be extending it’s reach.

    This is especially true with aerial refueling capabilities, and it becomes even more drastic if the planes take off from the carrier with the intent of not going back but, perhaps instead, will land in Taiwan or Japan, refuel, then either attack again or fly back to their carrier.

    Then you have the fact that China, as big as it is, also has some very nervous neighbors.

    Taiwan is planning the deployment of an anti-missile system that would cover a large area. Between this system and the inherent capabilities of the US Navy – expect any missile in the air to have a very short flight time that doesn’t end at the target.

    Then you have Japan that is likewise taking the same approach for the same nervous reasons.

    Both nations have interests in seeing any Chinese missile attack fail.

    Is it something the US Navy should address?


    Is it a development that completely changes everything and we should be peeing our pants over?

    I doubt it.

  20. Artfldgr Says:

    sounds good, looks big, no substance…
    you have so many facts wrong…

    The Dong Feng was NOT made to hit satellites.

    The Chinese have satellite destroying satellites. yes its a violation, now what?

    the EXACT design is unknown, and so regular press is not going to report correctly. they never do any more.

    there is also the custom of naming new munitions with old names. that is, you make a new missle that looks like the old one outside, and give it the same name… in this way, its in old treaties, and those who are easy to trick, and who will give long tracts detailing info that amounts to parroting the articles they like, not looking at the data.

    Fifth point, these Chinese missiles require launchers. Not only can the missiles be intercepted, but the launchers themselves are vulnerable to attack.

    to those who said it takes time to fire, and prepare… they are wrong.. its a solid fuel rocket… always ready. and to those that thought we could hit it… its not fired from a fixed platform… its on a mobile vehicle the WS2500 . [which means it can be sub launched too. and that’s the detail they are NOT talking about]

    here is an image…

    the launch platforms are trucks…
    they move… never stay in the same place
    and there are dozens of fakes for each real one

    the tomahawks on the system you link to are subsonic… the trucks will fire, and then leave…
    what will the tomahawk hit?

    possible options for the warhead may include high-explosive (HE), anti-armour submunitions, fuel air explosive (FAE), and electromagnetic pulse (EMP)

    also, the carriers themselves have limited ability to protect themselves. its the cruisers and aegis ships that do that…

    with FAE, nuclear (which they recently threatened to use), and EMP, all do not need to be on target…

    and the missile is NOT guided by satellite… its self guided…

    its Shoot and scoot, with fire and forget.

    a lot of the arguments above seem to be refuting a missle that doesnt exist… but is ASSUMED…

    here is another photo of the missle carrier

    the biggest point for these is that they will prevent our ships from being able to save Taiwan..
    [and when taiwan falls they get all those juicy manufacturing and other things!]

    Taiwan is planning the deployment of an anti-missile system that would cover a large area.

    and it will be like throwing a baseball to stop a bullet

    22 miles in 10 seconds…

    here is what our military guys said:
    If the missile’s target system proved to be accurate, then the load and other factors from the point of view, the Dongfeng-21D may be listed as the world’s first mobile ground-based medium-range missile that can hit moving nearly 2,000 miles from the aircraft carrier . – U.S. Navy Intelligence Agency report in 2009

    no satellites. not for space interdiction. no launch locations, its mobile.

    This missle has some of the new missle features in which it can blow itself sideways and avoid incoming rounds and fire. [its design is thought to be a partial copy of the Pershing]

    the closest thing, that you might be referring to, is our SM-3 interceptor missiles… Problem with this is that it doesn’t work anywhere near as good as the press says. it misses about 20% of the time, and that’s not when being fired at mach 10 missiles.

    they shoot 6 of them, now what?

    actually its WORSE than that…

    they shoot one…
    then we shoot to intercept with several missiles.

    they shoot another
    it takes THAAD 30 mins for us to reload.

    oh oh.

    note that i pointed out that if they are 50 miles away, you have barely over 1 minute to reload and fire.

    do we have ANY missiles systems that can reload and fire again in under 40 seconds? not metal storm, not ack ack… but THAAD or SM-3?

    so in truth… they either have to shoot a few times, and the ships are sitting ducks, or the ships shoot fewer and they miss on in 5 incoming.

    Combine this with the fact that the US is lacking science majors and the big minds of the past

    these were all men, we pushed them out of the schools so women and minorities can be equal.
    what replaced them is not anywhere near as good as those guys… if they were, they wouldn’t need affirmative action and social manipulation by the state to make an aesthetic.

    I should point out that a good portion of my info is from the AFJ … and there are other things about russia too.

  21. Scottie Says:


    I got precisely to this part of your response:


    “sounds good, looks big, no substance…
    you have so many facts wrong…

    The Dong Feng was NOT made to hit satellites.”


    And stopped reading and didn’t bother to read anything else.

    What was the reason I didn’t bother to read your typically longwinded missive, you may ask?

    It’s because I never stated that the Dong Feng missile was made to take out satellites!

    I was instead referring to the US ship based anti-missile system that the US Navy modified to take out a satellite.

    You seem to have assumed a meaning not supported by my actual words, and then took off across the back 40 with your response – all the while confidently stating how wrong I was.

    Try reading a little more closely next time, and then check out the links provided.

    Afterwards, I’ll be happy to attempt to read through your response.

  22. Baklava Says:


    I saw that. I recognize you never stated that.

    You had a lot of good points.

    I wanted to tell you.

  23. Baklava Says:

    BTW, I stopped reading the post after I saw that mess up also.

  24. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I recall, many years ago, somebody claiming tanks would never work–this was in the Sixties–by referring to the troubles the Panzers had had moving into Austria during the Anschluss.
    End of discussion, it was presumed.
    True. End of discussion.

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