China’s Anti-Carrier Missile Now Opposite Taiwan, Flynn Says

The Chinese military has deployed its new anti-ship ballistic missile along its southern coast facing Taiwan, the Pentagon’s top military intelligence officer said today.

The missile, designated the DF-21D, is one of a “growing number of conventionally armed” new weapons China is deploying to the region, adding to more than 1,200 short-range missiles opposite the island democracy, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the Defense Intelligence Agency director, said in a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Flynn’s reference to the DF-21D follows one made by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, in congressional testimony on April 9. He highlighted the “initial deployment of a new anti-ship missile that we believe is designed to target U.S. aircraft carriers.”

Flynn’s brief reference to the DF-21D today is significant because it advances the DIA’s assessment last year, when U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, then the agency’s director, said China’s military is “probably preparing to deploy” the weapon.

The DF-21D is intended to give China “the capability to attack large ships, particularly aircraft carriers, in the western Pacific,” the Pentagon’s 2012 China report said. The report cites estimates that the missile’s range exceeds 930 miles (1,500 kilometers).

Carrier Hunters

The missiles are designed be be launched to a general location, where their guidance systems take over and spot carriers to attack with warheads intended to destroy the ships’ flight decks, launch catapults and control towers.

U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert told defense reporters in March 2012 that the Navy is evaluating how to defeat the missile during all phases of flight, using methods such as jamming the missiles’ sensors, reducing the electronic emissions from U.S. ships, and intercepting the missile.

Analysts including Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and some naval officers worry that the new carriers, while formidable warships, may not be able to get close enough for their planes to attack enemies, such as China and Iran, that are armed with precision- guided anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles.

Full article: China’s Anti-Carrier Missile Now Opposite Taiwan, Flynn Says (Bloomberg Businessweek)

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