The mighty US Navy won’t say so publicly, but it’s increasingly worried by China’s development of new anti-ship missiles. The chief worry is China’s new DF-21D whose primary target is America’s huge aircraft carriers.
According to Chinese sources, the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) has recently become operational in limited numbers. Originally developed for submarines, the DF-21D is said to have a range of 2,700km and at least some capability to strike moving targets.
China’s military is hard at work on satellites, long-range backscatter radar, submarines, and drones that can identify moving naval targets up to 3,000 km distance. These overlapping sensors will provide accurate, real-time targeting data for the DF-21D and other shorter-ranged sea, air and land-based anti-ship missiles.The US Navy insists its carriers are not threatened by any of China’s new missiles and retain their freedom of action off China. But the DF-21D can cover the entire South China Sea, including Taiwan.
This could be extremely bad news for the US Navy, which deploys 11 aircraft carrier groups that enable the US to project power around the globe.
Batteries of DF-21D’s based safely inland may keep the US Navy far off China’s coasts, isolate Taiwan, and threaten US bases in Japan, Okinawa and Guam. In fact, the mere existence of the DF-21D’s and their deployment in sizeable numbers may be enough to keep US carriers at least 2,000 km from China’s coasts, thus beyond the useful range of the carrier’s strike aircraft.