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China's new anti-ship ballistic missile nearly operational


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East Asia Intel:

China's new high-technology aircraft carrier killer missile was nearly operational last year, according to the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence.

The new medium-range anti-ship ballistic missile, a variant of China’s less precise DF-21 missiles is “nearing operational capability," the ONI report stated as reported in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes on July 19.

The missile is believed to be the world's first mobile, land-based ballistic missile with precise enough guidance and targeting to hit a moving ship at sea.

Most ballistic missiles — defined as missiles that exit the atmosphere and their re-entry vehicles then come back to earth — are not accurate enough to be able to hit a ship because of the high speeds involved in ballistic travel.

China’s anti-ship ballistic missile has prompted widespread alarm in U.S. military circles and that has led to new efforts to counter what are termed anti-access weapons, like the ASBM.

Officials said the current U.S. Navy has only theoretical countermeasures for the DF-21D ASBM, which has a range of up to 2,000 miles.

“We have some concerns over the very aggressive weapons [the Chinese] are procuring,” U.S. Navy 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. John Bird told Stars and Stripes last month.

U.S. officials have said the strategic implications of the new missile are that it will limit the ability of the Navy to operate in the Western Pacific, where U.S. allies are very dependent on the warships for their security, mainly against the growing threat from China.

The major threat posed by the DF-21D is that it will severely undermine U.S. defense plans for defending Taiwan from a mainland attack. Current plans call for deploying more than five aircraft carrier battle groups to the region.

Toshi Yoshihara, an associate professor of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College who recently completed a report on China’s missile strategy told the newspaper that “a small dose of well-placed missiles, they seem to believe, might persuade the enemy to back down or to cease and desist.”
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