News / Asia

China Seen Moving Closer to Deployment of 'Carrier Killer' Missile

William Ide

A senior U.S. commander has recently revealed that China's development of an anti-ship ballistic missile that is designed to target aircraft carriers is now operational.  Defense analysts say that while China has a way to go to perfect the weapon system, the development and deployment of the missile will have a major impact on security in Asia.

In a recent interview with Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Admiral Robert Willard, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said that information China has released in the open press and continued testing show it has reached the equivalent of what the U.S. military calls initial operational capability for the weapons system.

Listen to the extended Q&A with Andrew Erickson


Andrew Erickson, the co-founder of China SignPost, a website that focuses on China analysis and research, explains.

"What's very significant here is for the first time ever, someone in a position of authority and information access, has stated that the missile is roughly equivalent to a U.S. military development benchmark," said Erickson.

Admiral Willard says reaching initial operational capability means China has a workable design for the missile and that it is being further developed.

The land-based missile, which is called the Dongfeng 21 D, is designed to attack aircraft carrier groups with the help of satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs.

Listen to the extended Q&A with Dean Cheng


Dean Cheng, a research fellow at Washington D.C.'s Heritage Foundation says that with the help of satellites and UAVs the fast-moving missile is designed to target an aircraft carrier in the sea and come at them from high altitudes.

"The idea is to damage an aircraft carrier, destroy the planes on the deck, not necessarily sinking it, but keeping it from basically being able to fly aircraft for the next several days, weeks or even month," said Cheng.

Admiral Willard says that while the U.S. military has yet to see an over-water test of the system, the advanced ballistic missile system - along with other so called anti-access area denial capabilities China is deploying such as air defense systems, advanced naval systems such as submarines- are a concerning development for countries in the region.

Dean Cheng says Admiral Willard's comments show that China is increasing the pace of its military development. China's development of anti-access area denial capabilities, he says, sends a clear message about security in the region.

"This weapons system [China's anti-ship ballistic missile], in combination with Chinese submarines, Chinese long range anti-ship cruise missiles, Chinese anti-ship aircraft, all of these in combination are clearly aimed at saying to the United States: 'back off, your role here in the Western Pacific is going to be limited'," he said.

In additon to the U.S., there is already growing concern among China's neighbors about the speed at which China is developing and expanding its naval power. Japan recently decided to shift the focus of its national defense toward China.

Erickson says China's neighbors are likely to react to the development of the weapon system.

"It still remains to be seen exactly what some of the reactions will be, but I suspect that there may well be some very significant concerns in Japan, in South Korea and in Taiwan for instance," he said.

He adds that concerns are likely because China has been releasing information or technical "data points" about the anti-ship ballistic missile or other systems that speak more to experts and foreign militaries, but not citizens in the region.

"What they do not do well [the data points], I believe, is speak to the citizen in other nations and socieities in East Asia as to what China is actually doing here? How far it intends to go? What China envisions as being the consequences," asked Erickson.

When a Chinese foreign ministry official was asked about the ballistic missile system earlier this week she did not respond directly, but stressed China was purusing a defensive military policy and seeks peaceful development.

Still, China's steps toward deploying the anti-ship ballistic missile and other military trends are having an impact on the ongoing debate in Washington over whether China is a friend or foe.

Dean Cheng says  the news will certainly add "amunition" to the argument that China is an unfriendly power and rising threat.

"The flip side to this is that we have the [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates visit to China, we have the [Chinese President] Hu [Jintao] - [President Barack] Obama summit here in Washington will provide an opportunity for China to clarify itself," he said.

Erickson says China's military trends and agressive behavior over the past few years  is having a broad impact in Washington.

"I think even a lot of people who were previously quite optimistic about U.S. - China relations have become more pessimistic and more concerned, frankly," he said.

Those who were already pessimistic, Erickson adds, see these latest developments as a sign that there never really were grounds to be optimistic about China and that those who were optimistic were just naive.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid