China's "Antiaccess" Ballistic Missiles and U.S. Active Defense

By Hoyler, Marshall | Naval War College Review, Autumn 2010 | Go to article overview

China's "Antiaccess" Ballistic Missiles and U.S. Active Defense


Hoyler, Marshall, Naval War College Review


Relations between Taiwan and China have improved recently. At the same time, U.S.-Japanese relations have worsened, partly as the result of disagreements over Futenma Marine Air Station on Okinawa. As a result, the prospects of fighting between the United States and China over Taiwan and of U.S. reliance on Okinawa bases to supplement carrier airpower in the course of such a fight appear far-fetched, disastrous for the states concerned.

Of course,military professionals and the defense analytic community need to think through unlikely and unwelcome scenarios.1 To that end, various analysts have contributed to a lively discussion of Chinese "antiaccess" systems designed to keep the United States at bay in the event of conflict.2 These systems include C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) assets like over-the-horizon (OTH) radar and increasing numbers of satellites, a more modern air force, more submarines with better weapons, and both cruise and ballisticmissiles to hold at risk our ships at sea and our air bases ashore.3 This article examines ballistic missile threats to carriers and air bases and the adequacy of U.S. active defenses.

China seeks the capacity to find U.S. aircraft carriers roughly a thousand miles from the mainland and to attack them with homing ASBMs (antiship ballistic missiles).4 China must overcome serious technological challenges to field the systems needed to do these things. The United States faces the prospect that Chinamight overcome these challenges,perhaps as soon as five years fromnow. To attack fixed targets like American air bases in Japan, China has already developed a family of road-mobile, solid-fuel, short-range ballistic missiles.5 One of thesemissiles, the CSS-6,has the range to attackKadenaAir Base onOkinawa, a U.S.Air Force facility that is in many ways the best air base ashore forU.S. operations against China.6

The current U.S. response to these developments relies heavily on active defense -that is, deployment of antiballistic missiles (ABMs). To defend ships at sea, the United States is investing in Aegis/Standard Missile ABMs, and to defend air bases ashore, in Patriot PAC-3 ABMs. The Navy originally developed Aegis ballisticmissile defense (BMD) to protect assets ashore, such as seaports of debarkation. Given China's ASBM efforts, however, many officers see the counterASBMmission as an important role for Aegis BMD. Indeed, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral PatrickWalsh, recently characterized missile defense as "essential to our ability to operate freely."7

MY ARGUMENT IN A NUTSHELL

The U.S. ABM investments just described deserve critical scrutiny: asymmetries in the competition of Chinese ballistic missiles versus U.S. antiballistic missiles make it unlikely that active defense alone will succeed. To see why,we need to review China's ASBM system threat to ships at sea and China's short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) threat to U.S. air bases.

ActiveDefense against the ASBM System.What is the asymmetry in the ASBM versus ABM competition? On one hand, China can easily determine how many ABMs the United States is building and compute the limited number that each ABM-configured Aegis ship will likely have aboard. Should it succeed in developing ASBMs that work and systems that can detect, locate, and track U.S. aircraft carriers, China can overcome active defenses by launching more ASBMs than theUnited States can possibly intercept.8 It can do sowith relative ease even if Aegis/ABM systems have high single-shot kill probabilities, because Beijing's entire ASBM inventory is available.

The United States, on the other hand, can devote only a subset of its ABMs to protecting carriers fromthe ASBM threat. Even if the Navy makes heroic efforts to increase the fraction that is forward deployed in the western Pacific, China will retain its "home field" numeric advantage. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

China's "Antiaccess" Ballistic Missiles and U.S. Active Defense
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.