NEWPORT, R.I. – Professors Andrew Erickson
and Lyle Goldstein
of the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) collaborated on a book released in July titled, “Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles.”
This edited volume offers a comprehensive survey of Chinese aerospace developments, with a concentration on areas of potential strategic significance previously unexplored in Western scholarship. It links these developments to the vast maritime battlespace of the Asia-Pacific region and highlights the consequent implications for the U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Navy.
“Chinese aerospace capabilities are improving in a rapid, broad-based fashion that can properly be described as a ‘revolution,’” said Erickson. “In addition to widespread incremental improvements, China is on the verge of achieving several potentially ‘game changing’ breakthroughs—particularly regarding antiship ballistic missiles, or ASBMs, but also with respect to streaming cruise missile attacks, satellite surveillance and navigation, and counter-space.”
“Such achievements will radically improve China’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities by allowing it to hold at risk a wide variety of enemy surface- and air-based assets were they to enter strategically vital zones on China’s contested maritime periphery in the unfortunate event of conflict,” Erickson said.
While many articles and books have previously been written on Chinese aerospace development and many more discuss future U.S. naval strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, no other book connects the two issues, simultaneously evaluating the Chinese aerospace challenge and its implications for U.S. naval strategy.
“Chinese Aerospace Power” offers both broad strategic context for the lay reader and considerable insights for even the most well-informed specialists, with no fewer than five chapters addressing significant aspects of China’s development of a “carrier killer” ASBM.
According to Goldstein, China’s military aerospace development goes far beyond ASBM efforts in its significance.
“Cumulatively, progress in all major aerospace dimensions by various elements of China’s military heralds a new period in which it is now altering the military balance in the East Asian littoral,” said Goldstein. “The potential deployment of ASBMs is most troubling, however, since this weapon has the potential to render surface forces in the region all but obsolete in a single stroke.”
Erickson and Goldstein developed the book from CMSI’s fourth annual conference, “Evolving Maritime Roles for Chinese Aerospace Power,” held in December 2008. Most of the chapters were presented initially as papers at that conference and were subsequently revised substantially to address recent events. A select group of chapters was added to include the authors’ cutting-edge knowledge of key subject areas. The chapters are designed to offer a wide range of perspectives because constructive academic dialogue and debate is at the heart of CMSI’s analytical philosophy.
This is the fifth book in the series “Studies in Chinese Maritime Development,” published jointly with Naval Institute Press. As with previous volumes, copies are being distributed to key officials and experts in the Navy and other organizations of the U.S. government to offer a deliberately diverse range of analysis and policy recommendations.
Commenting on the book, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, U.S. Navy (retired), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, stated that “China’s air and space development is an area of significant interest for the U.S. Navy. This book elucidates the critical linkage between China’s military aerospace and maritime capabilities.”
“Whereas China’s rapid progress has already rendered many other studies obsolete, this volume connects the latest ‘data point’ dots and puts them in strategic context,” said Keating. “Navy leaders and planners should read it today.”
NOTE: the views expressed in “Chinese Aerospace Power” are the authors’ own. Their views do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Naval War College, the Department of the Navy or Department of Defense or any other organization of the U.S. government.