The U.S. Navy wields several means of deflecting potential attacks involving a recently developed Chinese antiship ballistic missile, the service's top uniformed official said on Friday (see GSN, Jan. 21).
“You want to spoof them, preclude detection, jam them, shoot them down if possible, get them to termination, confuse it,” Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said of China's Dongfeng 21D ballistic missiles. “The concept is end to end, and the capabilities therein (are) what we’re pursuing,” Wired magazine quoted him as saying.
The Navy's pursuit of interference capabilities could yield equipment capable of misdirecting the weapon's tracking mechanisms, he said.
“If whatever is launched has a seeker, can you jam it?” Greenert asked. “Yes, no, maybe so? What would it take to jam it?”
The EA-18G Growler fighter aircraft would presently assume a key role in an interference attempt, and a future system could be capable of infiltrating hostile electronics with software to undermine their functioning (see GSN, Jan. 21).
The nation's Aegis antimissile warships would be charged over the next decade with carrying out any attempt to intercept an incoming weapon, an option Greenert deemed "more popular." The Navy intends to eventually equip vessels with laser capable of destroying missiles in flight, but it is uncertain if the service can adhere to its schedule of technical goals for the capability into the middle of the next decade.
The outcome of any attempt to directly destroy the Chinese missile is uncertain, according to Wired. “When do you have to engage it? On the way up? Midcourse? Terminal?” the top Navy officer asked.
“We call it links of a chain,” he said. “We want to break as many links as possible.” The official suggested the United States must be able to target the weapon at “all” stages of flight.
The Chinese missile has achieved “initial operating capability,” the Navy indicated in December 2010. Still, China has yet to acquire the capability to sink an aircraft carrier, according to the service's top intelligence officer.
Striking a mobile target and undertaking trials of the weapon would prove to be complex endeavors, Wired reported. In addition, Chinese war strategy must undergo revisions to incorporate the new missile, according to the magazine (Spencer Ackerman, Wired, March 16).