What China’s New Missiles Mean for the Future of the Aircraft Carrier

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Two F-35C Lightning II warplanes prepare to launch from the USS Nimitz. The U.S. Navy plans to buy dozens of the F-35C fighters, but their range is no more than 650 miles.Dane Wiedmann/Lockheed Martin/U.S. Navy

 

 

In late 1995, escalating Chinese threats against Taiwan prompted President Bill Clinton to stage a show of American support for the beleaguered island that Beijing’s leaders couldn’t ignore. Clinton sent two aircraft carrier battle groups steaming into the conflict zone, their heavily armed fighter jets poised on deck for takeoff. One battle group, led by the carrier USS Nimitz, sailed down the middle of the Taiwan Strait, less than 50 miles from the Chinese mainland, while the second stood in reserve off Taiwan’s eastern coast. Chinese officials decried what they called “foreign intervention” in their long-standing claim to Taiwan. But lacking the weapons to deter the American warships, they had little choice but to heed Clinton’s show of force and back away. Continue reading