Can Aegis Stop China’s Carrier Killer Missiles?

A Lockheed official today gave a predictably cryptic answer to questions regarding the the ability of the defense giant’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system to protect against China’s DF-21D carrier killer missiles.

“We’re constantly looking at the evolution of our Aegis BMD capability to keep pace with threats,” said Lisa Callahan Lockheed’s vice president in charge of the Aegis program during a Jan. 5 phone call with reporters. “While I can’t talk specifically about the capabilities we have against specific threats…we are definitely working to evolve our system to keep pace with the threats as they evolve.”

Callahan refused to comment when pressed on whether the current Aegis BMD system can protect against the DF-21D.

Wonder how long it will be before we come up with a way of defending our carriers from this system? It may mean developing carrier-borne strike aircraft with longer ranges or adjusting concepts of operation to keep the carriers farther off China’s coast. The latter could mean U.S. Navy and Marine Corps jets would have to refuel more often, fly longer missions and/or carry reduced weapons loads.

  • moe

    I dont think Aegis is built to have enough up angle to engage a missile coming down on them, I think they are more built for lateral defense. However it would probably be easy to modify these for that…

    • RocketMan

      Aegis BMD uses the SM-3, and doesn’t care a whit about your so-called “up angle” — it fires from a vertical tube, burns out just outside the atmosphere, and coasts ballistically for an exoatmospheric intercept.

      • S O

        …except that you still need a radar that tracks the BM during flight – even pretty much above the ship.

        Defence plans that depend on engaging a missile like DF-21D at long range will inevitably require extremely short reaction times … and those are unrealistic in the real world where Murphy’s Law does indeed rule with Clausewitz’ friction.

      • moe

        uh if the missile comes down at a high angle trajectory, over the ship, the current aegis will not be able to engage it. You are talking about a missile that is coming out of the atmosphere! the Aegis would need shoot straight up, which I dont think they have that kind of elevation capability.

        but again, that should be an easy modification, and or the new missile aegis should be able to handle it. Problem comes if you have multiple incoming missiles, there is a limit on how many can be intercepted, no matter how good your anti missile defense is.

  • superraptor

    It also could mean to go back to the future and have a much larger 5th Generation Strategic bomber force operating from a distance which we could easily afford if we siginificantly reduced our forward Tacair bases and associated fighters (less need for thousands of F-35)and reduced the number of aircraft carriers. Even new upgraded B-1s with ALCMs could do the job as they are hard to defeat flying at sea level. It is sad that the TACair background of the USAF leadership has clouded their strategic thinking.

    • ano8

      Wow.The fighter mafia now are seeing the usefulness of the bombers.Amazing.

  • Michael

    What about that laser test where we shot down that missile some months ago? Maybe we could lase that thing before it’s too late. (At least I’m not suggesting “sharks with friggin laser beams attached to their heads”.) Of course, the laser concept wouldn’t work in all weather patterns…

    Just thinking out loud.

  • brian

    If we had a high powered laser YES, otherwise MAYBE.

    The best way to deal with this threat is to kill its terminal targeting and guidance, that says laser to me.

    • Wells

      hell yeah laser all the way too bad we dont still have our modded 747 laser system, thanks obama.

      • Sparkle Motion

        Wells, the ABL is a dinosaur and a big fat target, and it was never ready for prime time. Laser power and optics subsystems have advanced to become orders of magnitude cheaper, smaller, and lighter since the ungainly chemical lasers were conceived for the ABL. The best plan is the current one: scrap the ABL, but keep the lessons we learned building and flying it, and adapt them to much smaller and lighter platforms.

        When you see a C-17 or C-27 zig-zagging aggressively through the skies with a hip-mounted laser 10x more powerful than ABL’s, you’ll recognize the wisdom in this.

        • Moose

          Not to mention Capital ships sorting FE Lasers and Railguns for defense.

        • Maxtrue

          Sure, but will you be alive? It won’t be a C-17. 10x more powerful? And what lesson learned if you stop short of fully testing the proof of concept? It is thinking like this that delays product in favor of wishful thinking. hip-mounted? Yep, that’s the ticket…

        • brian

          Just because something is a big fat dinosaur when you deploy, doesn’t mean its useless or not the best tool for the job. We can have something better in the lab, but its in the lab and until the technology can match the output of what we can deploy right now, its not the right tool for the job. I am sure Solid state lasers will be there one day, but just not now

      • chuck

        What good is a 474 with a laser.The laser doesnt have the range to do the job. Are we going to have them on station flying 24/7 all over the world. Its the type of thing that when you need it you need it now not 5 hours from now.

        • chuck

          sorry should have typed 747

      • ano8

        Chemical lasers are overrated.(like ABL).Solid stated laser or another kind are the future.The ABL still is working like a research platform.

  • Drake1

    A new Tomcat interceptor type phoenix combo?

  • JZizka

    How about going after the system they use (satellites) to find the carriers in the first place geniuses…..

    • S O

      …because a) not that simple b) Chinese could launch multiple cheap satellites on demand to counter c) there are more targeting systems than only satellite d) “neutral” satellites could be used for targeting

      • There is no such thing as a “Cheap” satellite. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft and its Proton rocket cost $120 million. Something like a RORSAT is a few thousand kg lighter but its still a massive investment to built it and the rocket. Also there is only a few places to launch a satellite in the ENTIRE WORLD. One B-2 sortie and they could lose that capability for years.

        “Neutral” birds can be countered, just buy all the air time on them. Or jam their downlink.

        Also we know where these satellites are (AEGIS can track them, in fact IIRC AEGIS can bounce a radar signal off the Moon if it wants. also you can track them by eye if you want- I have spotted satellites and the X-37 with my binoculars), so we can operate outside of the footprint of the satellite for a limited time (hours or days depending on its orbit.). Or we can station warships with SM-3s or fighters with ASATs to shoot them down as they pass overhead before spotting the carrier. Also right there is a mission for the X-37B, satellite interception and destruction. The X-37B can change its orbital inclination meaning it could intercept several targets on one mission. All that would be needed to destroy a Satellite is a 20mm cannon in its payload bay, even a cup of ball bearings dropped in its path would obliterate a satellite at orbital speeds. Worse comes to worse we can ram one of our birds in to it. (the Chinese has already tested that option).

        The larger threat I see is Over the Horizon radar from the shore of China. But those would be Tomahawk target #1 I think.

        Second major threat is the increasing number of Maritime Patrol Aircraft in the PLAAF and PLANAF. Those of course can be intercepted and shot down. Too bad we don’t have the old AIM-54 for that mission.

        • S O

          It’s possible to launch more than a dozen satellites into low orbit (less than 500 km) at once. This can happen from a launch pad in remote areas – an equatorial launch position is not necessary..
          These short-lived and small satellites would pass a specific point on earth very often because of their low orbit and would need much less expensive sensors because of their relative proximity to the surface.
          Their low orbit makes a high velocity a necessity, which in combination with maneuvers makes an intercept very difficult.

          There’s such a thing as a cheap maritime surveillance satellite.

          • However the smaller the bird the less resolution on its sensors. If its a low quality photo recon bird then it could be fooled by decoys like the Soviets used when our early birds would go over their naval bases. If its a low quality radar bird that it could be jammed by the more powerful phased array radars on our warships. If its IR imaging than it could be blinded by a laser (Visible Light imaging too could be blinded).

            Low orbit equals bad. It puts it in range of ground based weapons, and makes maneuvers more costly in terms of fuel (Space craft like to maneuver at the slowest point of their orbits called “apogee”, where their thrusters have the most power and error in their course change is the lowest). Also an attack from the inverse orbital track will be more damaging due to increased relative velocities in addition to giving the bird less time to maneuver away from an interceptor. Also the foot print of the bird is less at lower orbit meaning less area covered by sensors.

  • E_Khun

    What’s wrong with you guys? Everyone here immediately thinks in terms of “hard” killing them Carrier Killing Missiles. What’s wrong with a good old bit of deception?

    • Belesari

      lol Ok obi wan. What do you suggest?

    • IKnowIT

      Such as?

      • S O

        Decoy ships and barges.

        • Decoys the size of a Nimitz-class? Hmmm…

          • Sev

            how about disturing the air around a missile? Like seting off large explosins in it’s path in order to adversley affect its trajectory. IDK, might be an idea.

          • Ehran

            was a us admiral some years ago demonstrated that commercial photo satts had enough resolution to spot a carrier group easily. today’s satts can give up what aircraft are sitting on the deck i’d imagine.
            then there is the problem of all the radio noise the carrier group emits constantly.

    • us of ass

      Deception? How about have the carrier group sail backwards?

  • STemplar

    I’m sure it’s capable. I know an engineer that worked on the AMRAAM and she always talked about how that missile was capable of far more than just what it was specced to do. So I’m sure the SM3 is as well.

    I also agree a layered approach provides redundancy along with different intercept options that an attacking system would have less chance to be able to overcome. There is SM3 currently, the EW potential of AESA, drones loaded with an NCADE option using AMRAAMs, the recent 100kw laser tests seem promising, a scaled down rail gun is a possibility,

    How about some good forward deployed ISR and persistent prompt strike for some plain ol preemptive strikes?

  • Joe America

    Something tells me China should be more concerned with protecting it’s DF-21D
    from our offensive weapons.

    • S O

      Sure, the ’91 Scud hunt against missile launchers on perfectly open terrain with zero effect was certainly reassuring.

      PRC missile launcher vehicles could even hide in one of ten thousands of buildings until a minute or two before launch.
      The only way to hit them before launch is to hit them in the military base in the first minutes of a war.

    • blight

      I think Kosovo is a more damning indictment of our ability to target enemy units on the ground. The use of decoys and concealment was probably the biggest embarrassment never reported on.

    • Cain

      Something tells me Joe America is a moron.

    • us of ass

      Ever hear of the Underground Great Wall of China where these DF21s are / to be stored?
      It’s strike proof, even from nuclear.

  • Justin H

    Time to make the F/A-37 Talon from the movie Stealth, a reality lol.

  • Campbell

    “…or adjusting concepts of operation to keep the carriers farther off China’s coast.”

    Try this…use a new kind of carrier. One that makes targeting much more difficult because it can deliver strikes from ANY location, whether off the coast……OR FROM ANYWHERE INLAND. A carrier that moves at three times the speed of present aircraft carriers; and which needs no escorting ships to protect it from submarines.
    Say what?
    Airships. Launching UCAVs.
    USS Macon and USS Akron….updated. stronger! faster! able to cross shorelines and leap tall mountains in a single bound! Whoooeeee!

    • blight

      Wouldn’t work. Macon and Akron carried small lightweight scout planes, and wouldn’t do well carrying heavy fighter jets and extensive fuel and munitions. Every pound you bring up has to be accounted for in additional internal lift volume. The equation is far from favorable.

      (That and Helium isn’t cheap…)

    • Billw917

      So, we’re talking Battlestar Galactica?

      • blight

        Or Dr Who (or SHIELD’s) sky carrier.

        Some Bolos will show the world who’s boss, and enrich General Motors to a painful degree.

        • crackedlenses

          I say we send the Pillar of Autumn. That would be enough to scare even the deaf and the blind Chinese……

          • blight

            What if we attached the Pillar of Autumn to an airship?

    • blight

      In more seriousness, an airship or a larger fixed wing flying carrier would still need to be protected from enemy aircraft. A CV or CVN can deliver staggering amounts of firepower to target, whereas a skycarrier needs to carry every pound and keep it in the air. The fuel costs would be pretty staggering. Maybe we’d need to solve the nuclear propulsion problem first before developing a fixed-wing skycarrier of meaningful size. And even then, it’s especially expensive to heavily armor an aircraft and you pay the penalty out of range and payload. You are already a giant radar target if not properly designed and then subject to the constraints of a low-observeable aircraft, and a LO aircraft already entails considerable expense.

      It’s worth noting that airships served as anti-submarine units and fleet scouts, but weren’t pushed into combat against real surface combatants or enemy air. Even Britain, which used barrage balloons and could stand to profit from a patrol unit that didn’t run out of gas didn’t lean towards the airship/skycarrier concept to reduce patrol craft response times.

  • Belesari

    Campbell, while i think Airships would be great for transporting massive amounts of cargo over land i cant see them as Carriers. Atleast not for the next 50 years. Simply dont have near the tech. Also it would be rapped by fighters.


    I think a new longer range interceptor and longer range strike aircraft are nessesary. Not Something like the F-18. Say something like the crusader or tomcat. And something like a A-6 Intruder.

    I think there are a few things that are going to be able to defend against the DF-21D and other such weapons. I’m not sure if the sm-3 Is fully capable of taking out the DF but i think its possible. Maybe not highly capable but they may just need to upgrade it more which as a weapons system they have been for awhile. Dont forget railgun research. The railgun would make a great Line of site anti-air weapon. Then there are DE weapons which are coming along very well.

    The idea that the carrier is now obsolete and super weapons capable of defeating everything are a fantasy. The nuke was supposed to make warfare itself permanent and without the same armys as the past. That has been proven false as many times as all the others

    • Red Matt

      The problem with longer range strike aircraft is that it’s easier/cheaper to make a longer-ranged missile, up to the point where you’re using conventional ICBMs to hit carriers anywhere on the planet.

      I’m not saying carriers are obsolete, and there are countermeasures to this concept… but staying out of range isn’t one of them.

      • Belesari

        Your not going to be using ICBM’s from around the planet to kill carriers. ANY ICBM or rocket launc for that matter is know before it gets clears that atmosphere. Plus no one can tell if your launching a REAL ICBM with a nuke load. Big no, no. Then there is the massive cost of a ICBM. Maintanence etc.

        And you would have to send up dozens of them at the same time because there WILL be a counter to this syetm like all weapons have a counter. Then there is a counter counter and we go around and around.

        Im not talking about staying out of range of the missiles. We need long range carrier based fighters and bombers the Super Hornet only has a combat radius of 395 nmi last i looked. That is pathetic.

        • ano8

          We need long range carrier based fighters and bombers

          The answer: X-47B

    • Guest

      You can’t outrange ballistic missiles. We could spend many billions a carrier air wing that can allow our carriers to operate 500nm further from their target, but all it takes is a ballistic missile with 500nm longer range to make that entire fleet obsolete.

      We need to disperse our naval air power away from the monolithic supercarrier. We need UAVs that can operate from much smaller ships for strike, ASW, EW, and AEW. When the number of high-value targets increase from one or two, to forty or fifty, it will be much more difficult to stop a naval fleet.

    • blight

      I really don’t see airships doing much of cargo lifting. They are great for putting up a lightweight loiterer on next to no fuel. A airship playing carrier to a fleet of lightweight Predators is probably the only viable system I can imagine. I would shudder to imagine parking one in an area and refuelling/rearming them in the air. The savings from avoiding ground takeoffs would translate into longer range or more payload. That and keeping them close to the fight. However this system would run into serious fail against an enemy with air-to-air missiles…

  • Jacob

    If precision weapons become more and more advanced, we might have to give up on aircraft carriers altogether like we gave up on the battleship. The “All Submarine Navy” article comes to mind….

  • Justin H

    Remember Boeing’s concept 6th Gen navy fighter. Compared to F-35: better stealth, has supercruise, greater range, and hopefully a slightly larger payload, and optionally manned.

  • Justin H

    China may consider pre-emptive nuke strikes against better equipped enemies.

    • superraptor

      Thank god, this administration removed our tactical nuclear cruise missiles from our subs to have them permanently dimantled. So much for deterrence.

      • US of Ass

        Hey Moron, Is China off the coast of the USA? No. USA is sticking it’s bloody nose where it don’t belong…get it?
        You Americans are MORONS. NO ONE likes the Americans, except fellow Anglo countries.

        • behind every blade

          So? We don’t give a crap whether or not you commies like us.

  • Belesari

    Time for some orbital weapons platforms with KK rods. Maybe its tie for a space navy LOL.

    • elgatoso

      Rods of God and brilliant pebbles.

  • John B

    People seem to be misguided on concept of killing Chicom satellites to deprive its carrier killing missiles from targeting US carriers groups. So, in the scenario of tension in Taiwan strait, the US Navy just sends in the carriers, then starts launching pre-emptive strikes to kill the Chinese satellites or its missle bases just in case ? Come on, be real guys. Then we might as well nuke them now for good.

  • William C.

    If the Chinese ever launch ballistic missiles at our carriers, I fear they will be carrying low-yield nuclear warheads rather than any sort of conventional payload. Yet even if this isn’t the case why do we hesitate from developing nuclear tipped ABM missiles? Certainly a SM-3 with a nuclear warhead would have a higher chance of success to neutralize it’s target.

    • When nuclear weapons explode in the atmosphere nasty things happen, it’s why the U.S. and USSR stopped atmospheric tests in the 1950’s I believe.

      First, it causes a massive EMP, well more like wave, over the atmosphere that travels for quite a distance. To give you an idea, a single several-megaton nuke exploding in the atmosphere over the west coast would blank out most of the U.S..

      So on the same note, it would more than likely damage the aircraft carrier group itself (depending on their level of EM shielding) and severely damage China, Japan, Korea, etc. Not practical for the effect you are trying to achieve.

      Second, it causes one hell of an Aurora.

      • Here is some more info:

        “This high-altitude EMP occurs between 30 and 50 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The potential as an anti-satellite weapon became apparent in August 1958 during Hardtack Teak. The EMP observed at the Apia Observatory at Samoa was four times more powerful than any created by solar storms, while in July 1962 the Starfish Prime test damaged electronics in Honolulu and New Zealand (approximately 1,300 kilometers away), fused 300 street lights on Oahu (Hawaii), set off about 100 burglar alarms, and caused the failure of a microwave repeating station on Kauai, which cut off the sturdy telephone system from the other Hawaiian islands [1]. The radius for an effective satellite kill for the various prompt radiations produced by such a nuclear weapon in space was determined to be roughly 80 km.

        The Soviets detonated four high-altitude tests in 1961 and three in 1962. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, both the US and the USSR detonated several high-altitude nuclear explosions as a form of saber-rattling. The Soviet tests were meant to demonstrate their anti-ballistic missile defenses which would supposedly protect their major cities in the event of a nuclear war. The worst effects of a Russian high-altitude test occurred on 22 October 1962 (during the Cuban missile crisis), in ‘Operation K’ (ABM System A proof tests) when a 300-kt missile-warhead detonated near Dzhezkazgan at 290-km altitude. The EMP fused 570 km of overhead telephone line with a measured current of 2,500 A, started a fire that burned down the Karaganda power plant, and shut down 1,000-km of shallow-buried power cables between Aqmola and Almaty
        The Partial Test Ban Treaty was passed the following year, ending atmospheric and exoatmospheric nuclear tests. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 banned the stationing and use of nuclear weapons in space.”

        So like I said, no go there.

    • us of ass

      Nuclear warheads? Whoever uses them first can expect same in response, so don’t look for China to be using nuclear tipped warheads, you meathead.

  • Tony C.

    The point is missed, the answer was Lockheed Martin keeps upgrading based upon emerging threats. The Chicom Carrier Killer is a candidate for the rail gun as a defense.
    No warhead tarvelling at mach 3 is able to manuever, no matter how much they say they can.
    Tarcking a warhead on a fixed tarjectory can make it targetable by a rail gun system. The rail gun prijectiile travels at mach 7, so you do the math. The BMD system is for nuclear weapons in teh appogee (space seperation). The rail gun can be used for warheads once they enter the atmosphere. The US Navy is looking at high power lasers too, they know that they need speed to counter speed.

    • Maxtrue

      hypersonic missiles and warheads traveling more than 30,000 ft per sec will be able to maneuver if equipped with control surfaces. I don’t think however that suborbital launched guided spikes are likely to hit another fast moving missile. I wouldn’t rely on a rail projectile hitting one 200 miles away. A missile carrying drone protecting the perimeter might do as well as one powerful laser cannon. And lesser DEW might be able to fry it.

      Good point Byron, although what each said was entirely different subject matter. At this rate, how many top officers will be left? China needs to develop a stealthy microphone and then our carriers will be leader-less.

    • Guest

      I sure am glad I don’t live in your little fantasy world!

      • Guest

        Oops, my apologies, Tony C. I meant to post this in response to Clive’s post, not yours.

    • DualityOfMan

      The US Pershing II had terminal guidance way back in the 80s.

      Air-to-air missiles travel at mach 3+ and seem to maneuver just fine.

  • Maxtrue

    More dangerous than the Carrier Killer…….

  • jmatt

    This is the beauty of free trade: We need China and China needs us. We have more to gain as trading partners than as belligerents.

    Moreover, what’s the contention? Taiwan? If Taiwan disappeared from the face of the Earth tomorrow, would you even know it? And while they have an historical animosity, in present day, China and Taiwan do a lot of trade with each other.

    Do mainland Chinese really want to kill island Chinese? What’s to be gained by taking over an island that would be obliterated before it was captured? And since the world would surely embargo Chinese goods if it attacked and took possession of Taiwan, why risk your entire economy for a small island when you are already the largest country on Earth?

    Yes, we need to be vigilent in our defense. But this ain’t 1938. Capitalism won and both the Russians and the Chinese not only acknowledge it but enjoy it. We’re all to busy becoming prosperous to bother killing each other.

    • Maxtrue

      No, more like 1930…and it seems we might be repeating German reliance on untested higher technology instead of contemplating logistics and quantity. Worst yet, a repeat of anticipating problems and disturbing mentalities.

      Let us all have hope in the X-51 making Swiss cheese of enemy decks with 3000 tungsten spikes traveling at 30,000 ft per second. Subs would be a more traditional route. Perhaps in the near future America might want to test this hypervelocity capability on a retired carrier for PR effect. Something the Germans weren’t smart enough to do or achieve. At the start of WW2 they had the designs for a hypersonic bomber pictured in a mock photo flying over NYC. We on the other hand, were asllep at the radar scope when Japan unloaded more conventional sorties on Pearl Harbor. History has a recycling way of mixing things up.

    • Chimp

      Mainland Chinese absolutely do not want to kill Taiwanese Chinese. It would be a political disaster which the CCP most likely wouldn’t survive.

      The relationship between China and Taiwan, and Taiwan and the US is *extremely* complex. I give you the iPhone 4 – designed in the USA, and made in China by a Taiwanese manufacturer. And you better believe that the capitalist wonder-phone is popular in China. I was in Beijing just before Christmas, and they were going for RMB10,000 a pop in ‘approved’ outlets – who couldn’t keep up with demand.

      In other words, the world according to CNN may not be a good reflection of reality, believe it or not!

  • theman

    JMatt is mostly right. Most importantly, THE UNDERLYING DISPUTE OVER TAIWAN IS THAT BEIJING CONSIDERS IT TO BE PART OF CHINA. So attacking Taiwan would kind of undermine their entire basis for claiming the island. In addition, can you imagine how difficult it would be to stage an opposed landing these days? China is not going to invade Taiwan. The more likely conflict would be over North Korea, and even that is a remote possibility.

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Morning Folks,

    Some very good discussion on this rather well worn topic. It appears though that two assumptions are in general being made here. First is that a DF-21D could get launched. Give the US ability to find and destroy mobile missile launchers the probability that a DF-21D could get launched is rather slim.

    The DF itself is a system still in early development. The DF-21 is kinda like a Swiss Army knife missile. With two stages it is an IRBM/MRBM that could easily engage targets in the Ningxia Nhi Autonomous area. That may be the reason way the 2nd. Artillery Corps who control all of China’s ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads has located all six existing mobile DF launchers in this critical area.

    With it’s three stages operating, which the Chinese have yet to achieve, the same types of problems the Russians have with the Bulava/Topol M the DF-21 is a short range ICBM. It is noted that the continental US is not with in range of the DF-21 ICBM from current Chinese territory.

    The other assumption is that Ages is maxed out. The system still has a lot of growth in it and the Standard 3 is not the end of the line in anti-ballistic missile technology.

    Any use of such a weapon would be the result of a prolonged period of political unrest between the PRC and the United States, there would be no surprise.

    Byron Skinner

    • Rob G

      I’m more concerned about a Chinese submarine getting a lucky shot with a torpedo than the DF-21.

  • quest

    So China has ballistic missiles … big deal , so do we. I suspect that any future Taiwan straits war would probably end up not being fought from carriers but with long range bombers, cruise missiles and ballistic missles.

  • Oliski

    There are multiple strategies that can be utilized one would be to have long-range stealth drones set up a 360 network perimeter. Drones could be armed or unarmed and could easily send coordinates of the incoming missiles as well as it’s trajectory to the carrier group. The rest is history. That’s just one strategy and there are more. The rest is up to the brilliant minds of military strategist to make it a reality. When a web is created and a strand is broken the web still holds. I should be paid for this china has nothing on me.

    • blight

      I think the fundamental question then would be extending the detection envelope of a small expendable UAV. If you start putting in a super expensive radar package onboard those UAVs, you probably do more economic damage by simply blasting these out of the sky until Boeing can’t put them together anymore.

      I wonder if you could modify a AWACs craft and just park it nearby a valuable target, and use its sensors spot ballistic missiles farther away.

      The OST prohibits weapons platforms in space, so a tungsten rod launcher in high orbit coupled to rocket launch detection systems is off the table…

      • asdf

        exactly, and so is an armed version of the x-32 or 37 or whatever it is. any shooting or such activity in the space will get extremely messy in no time.

  • danf

    The Chinese don’t have to kill any Carriers. they just have to wait for the US to decommission the ones they have. We already plan to take the Abe Lincoln offline simply by opting to not refuel it. So now there are only 11. Watch the budget cycle. See if any new carriers construction is authorized…Don’t you get it ? Obama hates American power…the “Dreams From My Father” he is talking about is that America is a oppressive colonial power that must be castrated. In 10 years the US carrier force will be 5 or 6. There will be no next gen advance bomber, the new START treaty will be interpreted to mean no new strategic delivery, no missle defense…US military dominance is over…it’s just going to take 10 years to clear the props from the stage. Open your eyes…can’t you see. The future competiveness of the US is being poured out onto the dirt of Afghanistan. Do you seriously think OB cares a rats ass about Afghanistan…it is simply a convenient place for OB to bleed out military spending, energy and moral…wake up people…

    • blight

      That’s pretty paranoid, considering that a pres only has eight years /tops/ to do serious damage to a country’s military power. America has had presidents exploit the peacetime dividend only to be unlucky and have a war hit them in the face. We’ve come out bloodied but unbroken each time. I agree that this kind of luck isn’t forever, but still…

  • Mike

    The question is can the aegis stop the Chinese carrier killer? The answer is yes the infrastucture is in place and in theory when you put into perspective time fuel etc aegis
    Has a clear advantage not to mention algorithms and new propulsion tech as wells composites more advance processors. I’m no expert but the only way we can give the Chinese the advantage is not protecting our secrets. They seem to be very good copycats have the numbers and also have the money and spies (hacking). Being that we owe them alot of money in the trillions can probably buy there way.

    • asdf

      tech is not everything. there is always a $100 weapon that can kill pa $5m system (vehicle…).

  • longshadow

    We will be fielding UCAV’s about the same time they start fielding their DF-21D’s. Carriers with UCAV’s and loitering Tactical Tomahawk missiles isn’t that far away.

  • JDC

    Anyone consider the fact that the DF-21D could be a bit of strategic deception? The Chinese aren’t dumb. It might be in development, but the jump from a land based Korean War army with almost no Navy to a 21st century fighting force takes decades. They are getting there, but aren’t 20′ tall (yet).

    I’m sure they are working on the carrier killer. However, having a good PR campaign to destroy the will to deploy (casualty adverse) our will to go into harms way also works.

    This buys them time…we also spend time and $ to develop the “anti-DF-21D” weapon…meanwhile they continue to build up submarine assets and train in counter-surface warfare techniques and tactics.

    The real danger, as pointed out is two fold: 1. The US Navy decreasing the capability of platforms, decommissioning all platforms at a rate which greatly exceeds the build plan (and foolishly sinking those decom ships instead of retaining the more modern ones). 10 carriers-REALLY? 2. Spending a lot of $ to move major USAF and USN assets to Guam, thereby easing the Chinese targeting problem. Hmmm…let’s decrease our forces a lot, then put a large portion of those we have left into one small island base.

    (Naval Aviator, 34 YOS)

  • meinrotti

    Take out their satellites before putting the carriers in harms way. Once blinded their OTH targeting and capability is useless. They do not have the mobile airborne sensor capability or sophistication that the US has or the blue water aviation assets to support them. China has 3 ships for auxillary refueling and load out for support of at sea assets. Their satellites are their achilles heel. Blind their targeting and terminal guidance.

  • ChrisM101

    Im not sure all of you understand the scope of the DF-21 threat.

    First this is a Nuclear weapon platform. It doesn’t have to hit the carrier directly.
    Secondly its multiple RV, so 5-6 warheads.
    Third the hypersonic maneuverability of the RV

    Aegis can engage to a point standard RV’s i don’t think they are up to the level of intercepting Maneuvering Re-entry Vehicles. China has up to 80 of the DF-21 missles, and some are not to this level of tech but older single warhead models, but you can bet any new ones deployed are and that amounts to about 8 launchers, fired in unison, a possibility of 40+ warheads would likely be directed toward a carrier group.

    China knowing that launching a single nuke at the US carrier strike group would likely result in several SLBMs appearing in their radar scopes within a few minutes cannot really have a use for this weapon except in a worst case scenario. Of course thats what we all say about nuclear weapons until someone uses one then all bets are off.

    What better to ask would be : What is the US Response to the attacking or sinking of a Carrier?
    And the response if a Nuclear weapon is used ?

    The world is such that we would be the only bad guys if we lost 15,000 soldiers/sailors to nuclear weapons in theater but launched a nuclear counter attack, which obviously in china would amount to killing millions near designated military targets alone.

    Then you have to think a chinese counter attack or pre-emptive strike on the US mainland would include a large response.

  • blight

    Pondering the effects of nuclear weapons on a aircraft carrier. The only time ships were nuked directly was in Operation Crossroads. Bomb Able (~20 ktons, airburst) detonated ~ 600 yards from a target battleship (USS Nevada)and caused “serious damage”.

    Test Baker, which was an underwater bomb did more serious damage (for the same reasons that torpedoes and sea mines are so feared). My impression was that Baker seems to have caused more radioactive contamination than Able.

    It’s a pity that we did not drop a nuke on the USS America when we had the chance to test equipment. I imagine next time we retire a carrier, we should tow it out into the Pacific and do a few test fires with conventional ICBMs at it.

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Afternoon Folks,

    It would seem that we have exhausted nearly all the possibilities of what a conventional carrier killer BM can/could due. The next use of this weapon would obviously be nuclear. I agree with what blight sad if you going to take out ships with nuc;s do an underwater explosion. The bikini test results that are in the public domain show this very clearly to include taking out a carrier.

    Other then as hypothetical arguments, I really don’t see the value of any of these weapon platforms or the weapon they would support. In very simple terms before any conflict would get to the stage where these weapons could become of use they would no longer exist.

    Byron Skinner

  • PolicyWonk

    I think the US needs to make clear, that if foreign relations become tense enough between our nations (or those we have mutual defense treaties with) ever gets to a point to where a ballistic missile might be launched for whtever reason by China, since we’;; have no way to determine what the purpose of that missile is (or how it is armed), we will have to assume that the payload is nuclear.

    Unfortunately, that also means, that we would have to respond with a ballistic missile (or missiles as the case may be) that would more than likely have to be launched on warning.

  • rasley

    Enter ArcLight.

    It may be time to reassess the feasibiity of coupling PGS to a resurrection of the Arsenal Ship (or some variant thereof). In an era of ship killing ballistic missiles and whatever else the future may hold, a dedicated launch platform for such a weapons system seems like something to put back on the table.

    Imagine a battlespace where UCAVs loiter overhead gathering intelligence and pass it on nearly instantaneously. Enemy troop movements, strength, weapons locations, etc, all being transmitted to a battleforce commander and his/her staff. Now imagine that commander being able to select from a vast array of targetable weapons and launching them from a platform well outside the range of even a ship killing ballistic missile.

    That my friends is a real game changer. Whether you are a black shoe or a brown shoe, anyone can appreciate the potential capabilities that such a system would give our deployed forces. And what’s more, in today’s purple suit environment, a weapon that leverages any sort of joint architecture would have a better chance of making it through the Congressional gauntlet unscathed.

    • blight

      Haven’t we been here before? Except in the old days, it would be persistent air force units on tap and ready to bomb out those pesky Viet Cong.

      Arsenal Ship is nice to talk about, but Tomahawk cruise missiles are subsonic. So if you park outside of missile range and fire your barrage, there will be a lot of waiting until those missiles arrive at their targets.

      Omnipresence is expensive, and you pay for a UCAV flying overhead whether or not there are actually Taliban below.

  • Matt

    Anyone else remember the laser equipted phalanx CIWS that THIS SITE posted awhile (month?) ago? Can that stop these missles?

    • blight

      From previous deftech video footage, the laser took a few seconds to burn through a missile. Even if a Phalanx could lock on, it would require pinpoint accuracy and holding the beam on the exact same point of the missile for damage. On the plus side, missile casings are usually thin, so penetration would probably be pretty quick.

      Only one way to find out…

  • Natick Worrior

    We simply need to outfit Strike Groups with Lasers. More funds need to be spent on develoing this as a defense. There has been test that shown it can be done successfully, knocking out incoming mortars, shells and misslles. I understand that at this stated of developement, the laser may be big in size but if you have an aircarft carrier all you have is room. Or produce a ship that house the laser system and it liquid chimecials.

  • Hu Khan

    ASBM will carry a neutron bomb so that China can then tow the carrier back to HongKong as another museum casino piece. China has the habit of buying up useless carriers for Chinese entertainment.

    • passingby

      a radioactive museum / casino ???

  • blackgang

    I find all of this mental masturbation over a future war with China to be a complete waste of time. Any actual shooting war with the PRC would go NUCLEAR within days. It is for that reason and that reason alone that any such war will never happen.

  • Slamming

    Why should’nt China posses advanced weapons like these? They have had to tollerate american carrier battle groups in their back yard for years. I predict that within 30 years the Americans (as a dwindling economic and military power) will be moaning about Chinese battle groups off the West coast. The days of a one super power world are rapidly ending and the West had better get over it. The most effective defence against them is not military….its ecomomic. Stop getting our factories relocated to China and they would not be able to afford the big boys toys!!!!!!

  • Darragh Scully

    greetings. After thinking about this problem it would be difficult for China to cause to much problems with this missile alone. Ussually there are just 2 carriers in the region, well atleast in the japanese area of operations anyway. After some thought on the df 21d you must realise that its whole system is based on a satelite guidance system. So should war break out I am saying that one mission will be to use RIM 161 off Erie, Shiloh or Decatur or any other similarly equiped ship to neutralise the Yaogan-VII electro-optical satellite, Yaogan-VIII synthetic aperture radar satellite and the Yaogan-IX Naval Ocean Surveillance System (NOSS) constellation systems or any other Chinnese Statalites for that matter. Notably a missile defence system that would counter Chinnese attempts to eliminate US satellites should be considered also. Satellites will need to be equiped to counter this threat in the future because the Chinese and others also have anti satelite missile systems in operation.

  • Chad P

    I doubt China would resort to a nuclear fight. That is a ginnie that no prudent leader (as opposed to religious nut) wants to let out. After all, if one side goes nuke, both sides do. The US has China so outmatched in nuclear capability that that is infact, probably a situation that China would actively seek to avoid (while boasting otherwise). Given the admittedly limited, but real (and increasing) ability of US missile defense, the field could be skewed even further. China would find their own nuclear attacks marginally, yet still somewhat thwarted, while being forced to take everything that came at them.
    All this said, perhaps its time to give up Taiwan. China is emerging as a superpower, and Taiwan is in their yard, just as Cuba is in our yard. A superpower will have its yard as it wants it, and anyone contesting that will find themselves fighting in a superpowers own yard. The soviets recognized this, and we should too.

  • Sentinel

    The advantages to China are distance and relatively low cost missiles compared to $25B price tag on each US carrier. China could launch 100 low cost missiles against each US carrier and hope 5-10 that could get through to sink the ship, assuming US carrier has defense against ballistic missiles in the future. The only way to deter this is to declare nuclear war on China if US carrier is attacked by ballistic missiles.

  • the DF-21 will be an EMP type bomb. You don’t need to sink ships for a bomb to be effective. If it can’t move and nothing onboard works, that’s just as good as sunk.

    • passingby

      the first wave of strikes against carrier groups should be EMP weapons, unless it’s an all-out war, in which case it wouldn’t hurt to simply use nuclear weapons. I doubt that the US (and shadow) government has the nerve to go for a mutually assured annihilation script.

  • Jake

    the funniest part about this is, china using a carrier killing missile would just awaken the giant again. the biggest question americans would have to answer after seeing one of our 11 aircraft carriers go down, would be whether we send china back to the stone age, or just kill thier leadership with our laughably overpowered military. id like to see chinas “largest airforce” comprised of mainly antiques even get off the freaking ground. chinas large population and brutal tactics has been a bully in asia for too long.

  • Ric

    Good points on using lasers and rail gun to kill of DF-21 type missiles. However a salvo of say 24 missiles can overwhelm the carrier defense and even one hit can turn the ship by 90 degrees just by the kinetic force plus explosion.

    Another point made also had good logic but only partially: Yes the anti tank missiles and sea torpedos have not thrown tanks and ships out of the equation. That is because there are thousands of tanks and 100s of ships. However in the whole world’s navy there are barely three dozen or more Aircraft Carriers. US has 11, UK 1, Germany None, Russia only 1 etc. So a $10B carrier going down to $1M missile is too big a investment return to ignore.

    Another good point made was to take out Chinese satellites to kill off the terminal guidance of DF-21s. Space area is where US can defeat other nations including Russia not by 1 or 10 miles but by 100s of miles in the literal sense.

    Seems space is the new frontier and in BMD sense, it already is.

  • dan

    If a “sizzler” was launched from the Iranian shore at the Strait of Hormuz, a carrier would have 45 seconds before impact. Could our defense systems react that quickly? Just wondering.

    • passingby

      I’ll bet on “No”

      I speculate that Aegis is as over-hyped as earlier US radar systems.

      Remember USS Stark???

      • Justin Hall


  • hbj

    make peace instead?

  • RISSER Jean-Louis

    dear sir! my only intention was to imagine a cheap personal anti-tank weapon,with a little
    barrel but a high velocity with indifferently perforing or hollow ammunitions;for that purpose
    wich I call” engin semi-auto propelled”,it means principally:
    1 a first exposive charge,enough strong to give a rocket a good output and a long range
    2 the best best output approachs the sound speed,and explane the necessity to reduce
    the barrel,or using guns without recoil,but heavier.because the next war may involve
    a massive tanks use…friendly your.

    • passingby

      huh?? how is that relevant in this Aegis defense thread??

  • Simon Lau

    US is 10,000 miles away from China, I wonder why the US carriers are having the rights to keep close to the Chinese coast and facing the threats from DF-21D. Thus, the best solution is stop deploying the warships around China as it is the only way to reduce the US national debts and save the valueable lives of the Americans as having war with China is a loss loss scenario.

  • TeXan

    Aegis has a fair capability of shooting down hostile aircraft.. Why couldn’t it shoot down a balistic missle?

    BTW aircraft carriers are unsinkable and cannot be damaged by missiles or torpedoes. That is why they have Big George patrolling off of north Korea.. they are not scared of torpedoes.. check it out..

  • Jack

    Yeah and the Chinese are sitting at their desks just picking their noses.
    I don’t think.


    Why not USA think about to cheat DF21D carrier killing missile navigation & it should fall on china main land.