Catching our collective breath before heading out the door for a week of TDY, we pause to review some of the more noteworthy items making the rounds this past week beginning with one reaction to the 2008 DoD report to Congress on China’s Military Power…
Inside The Ring – China Missiles
(WASHINGTON TIMES 07 MAR 08) … Bill Gertz
One little-noticed intelligence disclosure contained in the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power says China now has ballistic missiles designed to hit U.S. aircraft carriers and ships at sea. The missiles are described in the report as part of China’s "anti-access/area denial capabilities" that include "anti-ship ballistic missiles designed to strike ships at sea, including aircraft carriers."Using a ballistic missile to target ships requires a degree of sophistication not shown by Chinese missiles in the past, and indicates China’s military has mastered precision missile targeting, no doubt helped by the theft of U.S. warhead design and other secrets through espionage in the 1990s.
Well, OK. Here’s what is in the DoD report:
- China is developing an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) based on a variant of the CSS-5 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) as a component of its anti-access strategy. The missile has a range in excess of 1,500 km and, when incorporated into a sophisticated command and control system, is a key component of China’s anti-access strategy to provide the PLA the capability to attack ships at sea, including aircraft carriers, from great distances.
- Missiles/C4ISR: By fusing advanced ballistic and cruise missiles with a modern C4ISR architecture, the PLA is seeking to build the capability to degrade a potential adversary’s force generation and sustainment by holding at risk or striking aircraft carriers, logistics nodes, and regional bases. (from Asymmetric Warfighting section)
- Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBMs) (1,000-3,000 km). The PLA is acquiring conventional MRBMs to increase the range to which it can conduct precision strikes, to include targeting naval ships, including aircraft carriers, operating far from China’s shores. (from the "Building Capacity for Conventional Precision Strike" vignette)
As Galrahn mentioned in an earlier posting, there’s an awful lot the DoD report takes a pass on or glosses over which in turn, provides the fodder for columnists like Gertz to run with. To be sure, China is making progress in the area of fielding an ASBM, but there remain significant hurdles to overcome. Longtime readers are familiar with the topic, but for our newer readers, we have covered this issue in some depth here and here. Bottomline – the Chinese are going to find that the open ocean surveillance & tracking portion of the equation that enables the ASBM will be fairly difficult, just as the Soviets before them found out, especially when faced with a CSG that doesn’t want to be found and can employ non-kinetic measures to ensure those ends.
India has had a pretty busy couple of weeks missile-wise…
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Indian Ministry of Defence
BRAHMOS NAVAL VERSION TESTED SUCCESSFULLY
18:23 ISTA naval version of the Brahmos cruise missile was successfully tested off Andamans coast this morning. The missile was launched from the decks of INS Rajput at 10.30 AM and precisely hit a land target in one of the islands of Andaman and Nicobar. DRDO scientists said the missile met all flight parameters during its launch, flight and zeroed in on the designated target among the group of targets, destroying it with a thunderous blast. This mission is very important as it has established the sea to land attack capability of the formidable weapon system. It was the 15th successive successful launch of the Brahmos missile, developed jointly by India and Russia. The Indian Navy’s Andaman & Nicobar Command provided the logistics support to the missile test. The command deployed ten ships, three aircraft and three helicopters for mission support. The parameters set for the mission were kept extremely difficult including the positioning of the target to achieve maximum output. The 100 percent success of the launch once again demonstrated the tremendous capability of BRAHMOS weapon system. The launch was witnessed by Dr.A. Sivathanu Pillai, CEO & MD of BrahMos Aerospace, along with the officiating Commander in Chief of the Andaman Command, Rear Admiral P.K. Nair along with other senior naval officers and defence scientists. The Defence Minister Shri A.K. Antony congratulated the Navy and team of scientists for the successful launch of BRAHMOS.
New Delhi: India on Tuesday successfully tested an undersea, nuclear capable, ballistic missile on the eastern coast, off the port city of Vishakhapatnam, the headquarters of the Indian Navy’s eastern command. The test catapults India into an elite club of nations – US, Russia, France, China who posses the required expertise in this area. The K-15 missile, with a range of 700km, was test fired at 1258 hours from a pontoon immersed in the sea and eyewitness reports say that they saw the missile rising from the waters into the sky. "The test firing was successful," defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said. DRDO’s initial response was that it was awaiting final evaluations from warships deployed in the sea. According to reports, this was the first full-fledged test of the missile after three-four dry runs. For the lack of a suitable submarine platform, the test was conducted from a submerged pontoon. The test was conducted off the coast of Vishakhapatnam, where India’s advanced technology vessel (ATV) project is under way. The ATV is the project name for India’s nuclear submarine, which is due to enter sea trials sometime next year. According to Dr Prahlada, chief controller, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), it would need just one test to ratify the missile, which would be the strike weapon onboard the ATV.
Like so much of the rest of India’s ongoing arms build-up and overhaul, the above begs the question of serving as the genesis of a sub-continent arms race with Pakistan. India would argue that when one pulls back and looks at the larger aspect of the region, at the areas of competition between India and China over natural resources as well as points of friction over border areas and territorial claims it becomes clearer that their press for modernized weapons, such as that embodied by the ongoing MRCA competion, for an extended and survivable nuclear deterrent enabled by the AGNI IRBM follow-on and the K-15 SLBM respectively is positioned more against China than Pakistan. Yet there is the unintended consequences effect and that factor is very much at work in the Indo-Pakistani dynamic. India’s press for significant and noteworthy quantitative and qualitative improvements in conventional and nuclear force structure will force a response from Pakistan which can ill afford to permit the perception of a growing imbalance on its border. We say perception because where nuclear weapons are concerned, and especially in the subcontinent, more is definitely not better in terms of proliferation concerns. A costly arms race (does Pakistan really need an SLBM as many Pakistani writers are suddenly asserting in the wake of India’s test?) that takes away from Pakistan’s more immediate concerns – stability of the central government and control of the outlying provinces vs Islamic fundamentalists, and is the last thing that nation needs. We see this a major foreign policy challenge/opportunity for the next administration – whomever it is.
Bulava Gets New Lease – Deployment Likely Delayed
And finally, word comes this week from Pavel that it appears that despite its dismal flight record to date, that Russia will continue work on developing the Bulava for deployment on the new Yuri Dolgorukiy SSBN. Of course the fact that the Yuri Dolgorukiy and the rest of the Borei class SSBNs were designed such that they could only carry the Bulava had no small bearing on that decision.