Significantly, on the ASBM…

Just caught my eye over on my Google Reader feed – a new report from the gurus of the Chinese ASBM at the U.S. Naval War College.  I haven’t had a chance but to skim through it and look at the pictures, but it looks pretty informative, nonetheless.  I’ll read through it tomorrow, but in the meantime, if you have time today, go ahead and have a look:

China Deploys World’s First Long-Range, Land-Based ‘Carrier Killer’: DF-21D Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) Reaches “Initial Operational Capability” (IOC) (HTML) (PDF – includes graphics)


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6 Responses to “Significantly, on the ASBM…”

  1. Chinese Air Craft busters | Military Strategy Says:

    […] Significantly, on the ASBM… ( […]

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  4. Matt Says:

    It is not a game changer, it is a different platform, but the PLA had the ability to strike US carriers now.

    We have dealt with Soviet mobile ICBM’s for years, the ASBM is no different in face it is less dangerous, because it is conventional. The Soviets had a similar program for an ASBM while it had technological difficulties, nothing that cannot be solved if you throw enough money at it. If it was gaming changing weapon the Soviets would have continued with the program even after the fall of the USSR. Due to the PRC black budget we can only assume the price tag for development, going by the Soviet experience it gives us an idea. So while the development cost are high, the production is cheaper than a submarine. But the submarine is more versatile and has a higher survivability. So was it wise for the PLA to duplicate two platforms for the same task. If the PLA had put that monies into expanding their subsurface fleet that would be more of a danger than the ASBM.

    Also the weakness is that to protect the ASBM you will require more air defense assets otherwise there will be gaps when the systems are overwhelmed. So you have to build more HQ-9 batteries, more medium and shorter a range air defense missiles and then more AA cannon’s if you plan to have an integrated network and more air assets to go with it. Once you have spent all that money, I will end up using cells of US Navy Seals and Delta either by Submarine or HALO insertion to conduct interdiction of these ASBM assets. They will be in country before a war breaks out so by combining air, sea, land it is not a problem. We also have the new conventional ICBM which once the air defense is overwhelmed will be able to hit the ASBM.

    • Tron Says:

      Matt, thanks for the extensive comment. You bring up some very relevant and interesting points.

      I think that it is necessary to think of the threat of the ASBM as an anti-access / area denial (A2/AD) weapon that is part of a comprehensive network of capabilities, not as a stand-alone “game-changer.” You rightly mentioned submarines as probably an even more effective (and certainly more versatile) A2/AD capability. But the PLA Navy has greatly expanded their fleet of submarines in concert with the overall PLA buildup over the past 20 years, and at the same time they have upgraded the platforms they already have to make the more capable. It’s something that a country can afford to do based on unprecedented economic growth over a three-decade period.

      You also alluded to the extensive ISR and cueing mechanisms necessary for the ASBM to work properly. These are assets such as over the horizon (OTH) skywave and surface wave radar stations and constellations of maritime surveillance satellites that will provide the in-flight course correction data to the ASBM that might make it such a hard weapon to defeat. Certainly these OTH radar sites can be targeted as a way to degrade the ASBM’s effectiveness, as you mentioned, and it is also possible to destroy or degrade satellites in orbit, should such a requirement present itself (both China and the US have conducted successful direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) operations within the past 4 years, and it is also possible to “dazzle” satellites using a laser to degrade or eliminate their function without requiring their actual physical destruction). Beyond what you mentioned, though, it may be possible to also use some type of electronic countermeasures to disrupt the relay between the terminal guidance satellites and the missile in flight. Bottom line, you’re absolutely right, there are always ways to degrade or disrupt the capabilities of these types of weapons – it’s not like there is no hope. But used in concert, the entire “suite” of A2/AD capabilities that the PRC is developing in what appears to be an attempt to keep adversaries from operating confidently inside the so-called first island chain, these are some assets that need to be taken seriously by defense planners.

  5. Dexter Says:

    The ASBM’s (DF-21D) are mobile so locating these missiles to neutralize them would be extremely difficult. They also employ various sensors and homing/guidance systems to resist countermeasures.

    Their main task is to be there as a threat to surface fleets keeping carrier aircraft out of range of the mainland.

    DF-21D’s, subsurface vessels, J-20 stealth aircraft and supersonic ASM will make it almost impossible for carrier based aircraft to reach the mainland. Surface vessel battle groups are outdated and highly vulnerable. They are only employable when facing a weak opponent.

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