Naval War College professor Andrew Erickson, Strategic Research Department, just published an article with David Yang, entitled “On the Verge of a Game-Changer: A Chinese Antiship Ballistic Missile Could Alter the Rules in the Pacific and Place U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Groups in Jeopardy,” in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings May 2009 issue.
This is part of a larger, on-going research project, first presented at the December 2008 China Maritime Studies Institute conference, that draws on hundreds of Chinese-language sources. Erickson will give a Naval War College Foundation-sponsored Stansfield Turner lecture on this subject on May 27.
Chinese leaders and strategists have been thinking of using land-based missiles to hit threatening sea targets for over three decades. Since 1996, they have been determined to prevent U.S. carrier strike groups (CSGs) from again intervening in a cross-Strait crisis. Today, the discussion is increasingly widespread, technical, and operationally focused. This suggests the possibility China may be closer than ever to accomplishing this with an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) based on the DF-21D/CSS-5 MRBM--with perhaps a strategically-publicized test sometime in the future--or even to using it in the event of conflict. Indeed, the mere perception that China might have mastered an ASBM capability could represent a paradigm shift with profound consequences for deterrence, military operations, arms control, and the balance of power in the Western Pacific.
To learn more about the China Maritime Studies Institute at NWC, visit http://www.usnwc.edu/cnws/cmsi/default.aspx