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March 31st, 2009 - 11:11 am

Drudge has red-linked a USNI report that China has a “kill weapon” designed to take out USN aircraft carriers. (Link is busted at the moment due to overwhelming traffic.) This is an old story, dating back at least to November and reported on StrategyPage:

China appears to be developing an over-the-horizon (OTH) radar that can spot large ships (like American aircraft carriers) as far as 3,000 kilometers away, and use this information to guide ballistic missiles to the area,. Such radars have long been used to detect ballistic missile launches, and approaching heavy bombers. Some OTH radars have been modified to take advantage of the flat surface of an ocean, to pick up large objects, like ships. Cheaper and more powerful computers enable such OTH radars to more accurately identify ships thousands of kilometers away.

China’s principal weapon would be their DF-21 ballistic missile, equipped with a high-explosive warhead and a guidance system that can home in and hit a aircraft carrier at sea.

To guarantee a successful strike, China might have to use a nuclear, rather than HE or kinetic, warhead — even with the new radar. I doubt that’s a game they really want to get into. Our targeting is still a whole let better than theirs, and there’s still an awful lot of water for soldiers to cross between the mainland and Taiwan. If they get into nukes, well, the Straits would become a “target-rich environment” for ours.

Mostly I suspect the Pentagon is worried about budget cuts — and that’s a fair cop. So brace yourself for more scary reports about this new “kill weapon,” along with stories that the Chinese are also arming themselves with shoot guns, flight planes, launch rockets and sinky ships.

UPDATE: Here’s a working link to the USNI story.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Pentagon, of course, has every right to be worried about “painful budget cuts,” because that’s exactly what they’re going to get.

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