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China Wants To Target US Aircraft Carriers

This is a discussion on China Wants To Target US Aircraft Carriers within the Navy & Maritime forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Hi, I found this on spacewar spacewar.com/reports/Analysis_PLA_eyes_aircraft_carriers_999.html by Andrei Chang Hong Kong (UPI) Sep 21, 2007 In the event of ...


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Old October 2nd, 2007   #1
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China Wants To Target US Aircraft Carriers

Hi, I found this on spacewar

spacewar.com/reports/Analysis_PLA_eyes_aircraft_carriers_999.html

by Andrei Chang
Hong Kong (UPI) Sep 21, 2007

In the event of conflict in the Taiwan Strait, if the United States were to send an aircraft carrier to the scene, it would likely remain in an area 800-1,000 kilometers from the spot of engagement. This is what happened in 1999 when China sent a series of air sorties over the island and the United States sent two aircraft carriers to the area as a warning. This distance poses very complicated and difficult challenges for detecting, positioning and tracking the target when aiming to strike the aircraft carrier with ballistic missiles.

China's DF-21 and DF-15 ballistic missiles use inertia plus gyroscope guidance at the middle course, and as a result the flight trajectories are quite inflexible. Even if new optical and radar image guidance technologies are applied at the terminal course, it is still extremely difficult to quickly adjust the direction when attacking a moving target.

Suppose a DF-21M middle-range ballistic missile were to attack a U.S. aircraft carrier from a distance of 1,000 kilometers at an average speed of 7 Mach, or flying at a speed of 2,380 meters per second -- the whole course would take approximately seven minutes. Of course, because the U.S. Navy has developed the naval theater missile defense, or TMD, system, about 10-90 seconds after the DF-21M was launched, the DSP-1 infrared detection satellite would catch the signal and transmit the data through the data link to the ground-based joint tactical centre, or JTAG. The JTAG would transfer the data to the naval-based Aegis TMD system.

Almost all the Aegis Class guided missile destroyers, or DDGs, are equipped with joint tactical terminal receivers specifically designed to receive JTAG and DSP-1 satellite data. Even if no action were taken to intercept the DF-21M, the aircraft carrier could still evade the attack at full navigation speed. All of the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers have a maximum speed of 32 knots. In other words, they can move 30.866 meters each minute and 216.06 meters within seven minutes.

In line with the latest trends of the Chinese military forces, the HF sky-wave over-the-horizon backscatter radar is currently under development. The China National Electronics Import and Export Corp. has unveiled some of the technical details of this type of radar system. Documents indicate that the construction of pole-shaped antennae has been completed, and therefore at least one experimental variant of the radar system is in operation.

The transmitting and receiving arrays of the radar are respectively 200 x 100 square meters and 1,100 x 60 square meters, at an elevation of 60 degrees. This transmitting radar array can track 100 different targets simultaneously, and has a detection range of 800-3,000 kilometers. The CEIEC also introduced an HF surface-wave over-the-horizon radar, which was specifically designed to detect stealthy targets and has an effective detection range of 300 kilometers. Of course, digital image reconnaissance satellites, oceanic surveillance satellites and a variety of signal surveillance systems could also determine the approximate position of the USN aircraft carrier.

Even if the Chinese missiles could not accurately hit the aircraft carriers, shooting them in their direction would allow the Chinese military forces to impose "coercive isolation" on the U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups, keeping them out of the Taiwan Strait combat theater.

There has been speculation that China has developed sub-munitions and canister warheads for the DF-15 and DF-21. What progress has the PLA Second Artillery Force made in developing ballistic missile warheads? The answer to this question can be partly found in China's export of P12 ballistic missiles and the development of warheads for the WS-1B and WS-2 multiple-role rocket systems.

Firstly, China's military has invested heavily in developing blasting warheads, blasting cluster warheads for P12, sub-ammunition warheads, cloud blasting warheads and blasting-burn warheads for ballistic missiles and WS-1B and WS-2, all of which are capable of inflicting mass destruction upon designated targets.

Taking the sub-munitions fitted on the WS-1B as an example, the combat part of the warhead weighs only 152 kilograms; it has 475 munitions; the dispersing area of the sub-munitions is 28,000 square meters, and of course this dispersing area can be reset.

If a DF-15 ballistic missile were fitted with a 500-kilogram warhead, the total number of sub-munitions could be 3.2 times those fitted on the WS-1B. In other words, there would be 1,520 sub-munitions or even more depending on the different weights of the sub-munitions. If the dispersing areas of the sub-munitions were the same, that would mean a dramatic increase in unit strike intensity.

If the ballistic missiles used Russian satellite guidance at the middle course plus a certain kind of terminal guidance system, the threat that a DF-15 could pose to an aircraft carrier is very obvious. Psychologically, this would keep the U.S. aircraft carriers 600 kilometers away from the Taiwan Strait combat theater. And if China chose to launch attacks with DF-21M medium-range ballistic missiles, the so-called "coercive isolation" zone would be much broader. Even if these attacks did not seriously damage the aircraft carrier itself, the sub-munitions assault could destroy the radar, command and communications systems of the aircraft carrier battle group and force it to withdraw from the battle.

If a cloud-blasting warhead were used, the 90-kilogram munitions would have a lethal radius of 70 meters and overpressure lethal radius of 50 meters, while the 500-kilogram warhead would have a lethal radius of 388 millimeters and overpressure lethal radius of 277 meters. Using a blasting-burn warhead, the 70-kilogram combat load would have a lethal radius of 70 meters, and an effective radius of dispersing killing greater than 70 meters, whereas the 500-kilogram warhead's lethal radius and effective radius of dispersing killing could be as broad as 500 meters.

(The author if editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Monthly.)
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #2
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The editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Monthly should check his arithmetic. 32 knots is a lot more than 30 metres per minute. It's almost a kilometre per minute.
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #3
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The 388 millimeters typo in the last paragraph also gives a good chuckle.

And of course the entire idea. Speculating with an effective kill range of 500 meters? Against humans, not ships, remember also. If we go that way, i'm pretty sure the original 500 Kt nuclear warheads fitted to the DF-21A would give you a better hit.

Btw, the DF-21A has 600 kg throwweight, not 500 kg.
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #4
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The editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Monthly should check his arithmetic. 32 knots is a lot more than 30 metres per minute. It's almost a kilometre per minute.
Obviously the velocity of carrier will be taken into acount before launching a BM , but the problem is how far can a carrier manervor from its oringinal course.
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Old October 2nd, 2007   #5
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The answer is 30+knts in every direction.

In light of the improbable specifications of the DF-21A pointed out by other members, the whole idea could be pure nonsense and merely a tool of psychological warfare. I for one find the idea of using PLA satellites to locate and "track" a CVBG laughable considering that the 1st generation Beidou Reconsat technology is yet immature, real time image capture has yet to be tested and a network of oceanic recon sats (3 at least) has not been put into place.

In spite of recent PLA ASAT "prowess", I don't believe they factored into their calaculations that all PLA military satellites would fall victim to electronic interference or in extreme cases destroyed to prevent them being used in this manner. Thirdly, a joint datalink system and command and control procedures have not been set up to date linking 2nd Artillery HQ to PLAN regional commands, indicating that use of DF-21A in the AShM role has not yet been authorized and will probably create significant time delays between targeting and launch.
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Old October 3rd, 2007   #6
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Thirdly, a joint datalink system and command and control procedures have not been set up to date linking 2nd Artillery HQ to PLAN regional commands, indicating that use of DF-21A in the AShM role has not yet been authorized and will probably create significant time delays between targeting and launch.
I'm just wondering, how do you know that they don't have a joint system set up between 2nd Artillery and PLAN regional commands?

As for the article itself, Pinkov just discredits himself with each new article he appears on.
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Old October 3rd, 2007   #7
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The answer is 30+knts in every direction.
I m not going to comment on your later claim because my limited knowledge. but for this one, I can tell you a 10k t ship is not easy to pull a 360 degree turn and sail out 30+knts in several minute.

Forget how tantanic crush into the iceburg
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Old October 3rd, 2007   #8
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Ahh yes, the old ballistic missile as a tactical weapon ploy.
Stuart Slade had this to say on the subject on SDN, link, and he explains it far better than I can.

Some here may well know of Mr Slade, for those who do not, he is a top level analyst who works on some very interesting defence related topics.

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Originally Posted by Stuart Slade
The problem is target location. The missile descending has a very limited manoeuver envelope, its guidance system is intended for fine corrections, not for radical changes in course. Therefore, to use the missile the location of the target at the time the missile arrives at that target must be known. This is OK for stationary targets but carriers move around, usually pretty quickly (like 20 - 30 knots). So, the question is whether the command control loop can cope with said target.

Essentially, the surveillance system has to

find the target
get the information back to the missile control
Missile control has to decide what to do and who is to do it
The orders must be sent to the missile battery
The missiles must be give their new target locations
The missile has to be fired
It has to get to its target

Adding all that up is pretty scary. It is more than likely that the whole process will take more than an hour, by which time the target location transmitted to missile control will be that amount outdated. The carrier group will have moved up to 30 miles in any direction. That means it will almost certainly be out of the guidance systems footprint. The Soviets never solved that problem.

Also, the probability is that existing US air warfare systems can handle this threat, such as it is. SM-2 has a limited capability against inbound missiles of this type, SM-3 has a very good capability indeed. We've already got destroyers and cruisers equipped with SM-3s out there. So we've countered this thing before it even enters service.

Overall, I'd describe this as a big bad scare weapon. Impressive at a superficial glance but it gets less so the closer its examined.
On using Nukes on a US battle group

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Originally Posted by Stuart Slade
By the way, the response to chucking a nuclear warhead at a CVNBG will add a new product to Chinese agricultural exports - self-frying rice.
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While I appreciate the very great difficulties, which are ludicrously understated in the article which started this thread, Stuart Slade is going to the other extreme, & setting out the worst case.

Firstly, time spent finding the target does not affect the chance of hitting it, once found. What does affect the chance of hitting the target is how long it takes to fire the missile, from the point the target is found & accurately (including heading & speed) located. The time of flight depends on the range, but it'll be a few minutes.

If you intend to use ballistic missiles to target ships at sea, you're unlikely to be spending a lot of time faffing around making decisions about what to do & who to do it. What to do (fire on the ships) will probably already have been decided. You'll have missiles tasked for each area. You select one or several of them, give them the target coordinates, which will have been adjusted for heading & speed (computers can do that sort of thing, y'know), & fire. This will not be a question of picking up phones to give orders to missile crews, etc. There are such things as networks. And if you don't have the systems set up to launch in a few minutes, you don't even think about trying it.

The Soviet problem was that by the time the systems looked as if they were becoming sufficiently capable, it was too late for the USSR. Technology has moved on. It's still very unlikely that you could hit a moving ship with a ballistic missile, but it's no longer the sort of problem which it's a waste of time even thinking about, especially if, as is probably Chinas case, you're thinking only of targeting ships close enough to launch air strikes against you.

Stuart Slade is, of course, right about the foolishness of using nuclear warheads in this role.
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The question is not the time it takes to get from sensor to decision to shooter. It is if PLA C3ISR is adequately developed for the task. Just having a look at what is obviously deployed at this time:

find the target - no. Certainly not in adequate quality.
get the information back to the missile control - perhaps.
Missile control has to decide what to do and who is to do it - yes.
The orders must be sent to the missile battery - yes.
The missiles must be give their new target locations - no. not ff updates are what is meant.
The missile has to be fired - yes.
It has to get to its target - ? (60-80% chance, without outside intervention)

You need to check all the boxes in the kill chain.

I would just like to highlight the point that Stuart Slades makes about how little maneuverability a BM warhead has against static and maneuverable targets, respectively - it is in the order of a few hundred meters at best against a static target, Pershing II is an example - meaning you will need very high quality target data. Realtime, precise, able to get updates to the missile to the very last minute, etc. The ability of the weapon employed defines what is demanded from the rest of the infrastructure, and a BM vs moving target has very high demands.
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but for this one, I can tell you a 10k t ship is not easy to pull a 360 degree turn and sail out 30+knts in several minute.

Forget how tantanic crush into the iceburg
Nobody is suggesting any “360” turns in any vessel. Nobody knows the given speed and bearing of a Nimitz Class carrier at any time so I said in “every direction” meaning 30+ knots in the direction the carrier’s CO presumes to take. I can only wonder what your point of including the ‘Titanic’ has to do with this given that the iceberg the Titanic struck was stationary and that the Titanic had no radar or any other signals that indicated its presence. I assure you that a modern CVBG has far more at its disposal.
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@tphuang

"I'm just wondering, how do you know that they don't have a joint system set up between 2nd Artillery and PLAN regional commands?

As for the article itself, Pinkov just discredits himself with each new article he appears on. "


I’m not sure whether you are familiar with Sweden’s Kontoret för Särskild Inhämtning, or Office for Special Assignments in English, one primary focus since the early 2000’s has been the PLA on behalf of the European Defense Agency, special attention being given to missile components, electronics etc. as well as the ballistic missiles of 2nd Artillery. Speaking to a recently retired member of the KSI on this topic gave him fits of laughter because of reasons I have just specified, he mentioned that this would be an excellent example of psychological warfare to a) scare the US Navy b) force them to take countermeasures, just as the semi-mythical J-10 has succeeded as you are aware in justifying the need for additional F-22s to counter it when a AN/APG-63V retrofitted F-15C could do the job more than adequately. Back to the point, I too am not certain if there are datalinks and C&C procedures linking 2nd Artillery and Nanjing MR (most probable regional command) for the DF-21, but if any intelligence agency with a strong PRC HUMINT focus, especially KSI, believes so then I will take their word for it for they have far more than open source info.

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Old October 3rd, 2007   #13
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The question is not the time it takes to get from sensor to decision to shooter. It is if PLA C3ISR is adequately developed for the task. Just having a look at what is obviously deployed at this time:

find the target - no. Certainly not in adequate quality.
get the information back to the missile control - perhaps.
Missile control has to decide what to do and who is to do it - yes.
The orders must be sent to the missile battery - yes.
The missiles must be give their new target locations - no. not ff updates are what is meant.
The missile has to be fired - yes.
It has to get to its target - ? (60-80% chance, without outside intervention)

You need to check all the boxes in the kill chain.

I would just like to highlight the point that Stuart Slades makes about how little maneuverability a BM warhead has against static and maneuverable targets, respectively - it is in the order of a few hundred meters at best against a static target, Pershing II is an example - meaning you will need very high quality target data. Realtime, precise, able to get updates to the missile to the very last minute, etc. The ability of the weapon employed defines what is demanded from the rest of the infrastructure, and a BM vs moving target has very high demands.
Find the target - agreed, probably the weakest link.
Get the information back - possible weak link, but not likely to remain one for long.
Rest, through to missile in the air - pretty secure, & quick.
Missile reliability - yes, nowhere near 100%.

The biggest problems, once you've found the target, are, as you say, the fact that ballistic missiles are inherently not very maneouverable, & that it's difficult to feed them target location updates after launch. The likelihood of being able to precisely track the target is small, & realtime updates to a ballistic missile? Tricky . . . .

But none of that makes Slades dismissal the last word. He's shown his mindset by invoking the Soviet failure, in a different era & very different circumstances, as if it's relevant, & he's assumed that unless one has high probability of destroying or disabling a carrier, such an attack is pointless. Not necessarily so. One can, for example, imagine using ballistic missiles to disrupt operations. If (big if) one can locate carriers well enough to launch missiles close enough to be treated as threats, & lob 'em over periodically, it'll reduce the tempo of air operations. Whether that's a game worth the candle is another matter: depends on how many missiles you have. But if you have very large stocks, might even be worth chucking over some just to use up SM-3s.
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But none of that makes Slades dismissal the last word. He's shown his mindset by invoking the Soviet failure, in a different era & very different circumstances, as if it's relevant, & he's assumed that unless one has high probability of destroying or disabling a carrier, such an attack is pointless. Not necessarily so. One can, for example, imagine using ballistic missiles to disrupt operations. If (big if) one can locate carriers well enough to launch missiles close enough to be treated as threats, & lob 'em over periodically, it'll reduce the tempo of air operations. Whether that's a game worth the candle is another matter: depends on how many missiles you have. But if you have very large stocks, might even be worth chucking over some just to use up SM-3s.
Agreed wrt to Slade, I am just using him as a jumping off point for discussion and pointing out what is required for a complete system for the concept to work.

It is a possibility to use volley fire to compensate for the "inadequacies" of the backend system.

One should also take the US countermeasures into account. Hard/soft-killing any link in the kill chain will dramatically reduce capability. It is quite a number of recce and comm sats that is needed for the operation. It also rely on that the onshore facilites and missiles/warheads work as advertised.

Is there anyone who wonder why Kanwa puts emphasis on thermobaric warheads? Sound like rubbish to me - they're for bombardment of land targets, not shipping.
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Old October 3rd, 2007   #15
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One should also take the US countermeasures into account. Hard/soft-killing any link in the kill chain will dramatically reduce capability. It is quite a number of recce and comm sats that is needed for the operation. It also rely on that the onshore facilites and missiles/warheads work as advertised.

Is there anyone who wonder why Kanwa puts emphasis on thermobaric warheads? Sound like rubbish to me - they're for bombardment of land targets, not shipping.
1) Agreed. Though satellites are not the only option. Should also have as many ground, sea (especially submerged) & airborne sensors as you can afford.

2) Well, it's a pretty poor article in general. I'd think the logical type of warhead would be something that split into as many solid sub-warheads as possible, to maximise chances of hitting something (that's your big problem!), & to give the CBG defences the hardest possible job. Rely on kinetic energy to do damage.
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