China's Aircraft Carrier-killing Ballistic Missile

Steve Pace

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This is too scary...

Carrier Killer: China has an operational carrier-killer ballistic missile much sooner than expected, said Navy intelligence chief Vice Adm. David Dorsett Wednesday. "I am concerned about the DF-21B ballistic missile," Dorsett told defense reporters in Washington, D.C. The missile, if fired in salvos of "several" at a time, could find and destroy a "maneuvering target" at long range, he said. He's not worried about it yet, for while the missile has been tested over land "a sufficient number of times" to prove it works, and has been fielded, it has never been demonstrated—"to our knowledge"—operationally over water, using real-world naval sensors and targets, he explained. Whether it could really sink a US aircraft carrier, "we don't know, and frankly, I'm guessing they don't know," said Dorsett. He admitted that, a year ago, the Navy believed "no one had a maneuvering capability" in a ballistic missile. That assessment has now changed, he said.
 

sferrin

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Some of his comments seem odd given that the USSR was working on this concept back in the late 70s/early 80s in the SS-NX-13. Also, Pershing II (which not surprisingly, this Chinese wonder-missile bares a striking resemblence to) had a manuevring RV back in the 80s.
 

SOC

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"I am concerned about the DF-21B ballistic missile"

DF-21D!

"Whether it could really sink a US aircraft carrier, "we don't know, and frankly, I'm guessing they don't know," said Dorsett."

Depends. This could only be truly effective one of two ways:

1. Submunitions blast from above to damage key flight deck structures like catapults and arresting gear. Mission kill.

2. Accurate delivery of a kiloton-range warhead which would detonate under the water. Hard kill.

Smacking a carrier deck directly with an HE warhead, even if it penetrates the deck, could result in a mission kill if the warhead is big enough, but you probably won't get a hard kill.

Far more amusing option: submunitions deployment from altitude to disperse noisemakers, allowing an SSN to close the gap and get off a stern torpedo shot. Carrier is dead in the water, mission kill!

"He admitted that, a year ago, the Navy believed "no one had a maneuvering capability" in a ballistic missile. That assessment has now changed, he said."

-Meaning early 2010? What does he mean by maneuvering capability? The warhead? The missile during post-boost phase? Either way he has failed to keep up to date with Russian missile technology.
 

Firefly 2

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SOC said:
"He admitted that, a year ago, the Navy believed "no one had a maneuvering capability" in a ballistic missile. That assessment has now changed, he said."

-Meaning early 2010? What does he mean by maneuvering capability? The warhead? The missile during post-boost phase? Either way he has failed to keep up to date with Russian missile technology.

I believe the emphasis should be put on " moving targets". Most ballistic warheads are aimed at fixed positions, while these are intented to engage moving naval targets.
 

sferrin

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SOC said:
Either way he has failed to keep up to date with Russian missile technology.

Or even 20 yr old US technology.
 

bobbymike

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This is more reason to build my hypothetical "converted Marine helicopter carrier" into a massive missile carrier. All that flat deck space could hold hundreds maybe thousands on missiles. It could even have a land attack capability.

With long range anti-missile missiles you could have one system cover the whole of the Sino-Pacific area tied into to multiple Aegis systems.
 

mz

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If I got the references right, if you have a 4 km/s body hitting a carrier, won't it be toast? It's energy at that speed is roughly equivalent to it being pure Torpex, 8 MJ/kg. 3 km/s is the kinetic energy equivalent of TNT.

Say the upper stage weighs 600 kg empty...

By comparison the Mark 48 torpedo only has a 300 kg warhead, though of course the whole hitting underwater thing is different...
 

sferrin

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mz said:
If I got the references right, if you have a 4 km/s body hitting a carrier, won't it be toast? It's energy at that speed is roughly equivalent to it being pure Torpex, 8 MJ/kg. 3 km/s is the kinetic energy equivalent of TNT.

Say the upper stage weighs 600 kg empty...

By comparison the Mark 48 torpedo only has a 300 kg warhead, though of course the whole hitting underwater thing is different...


The Forrestal and Enterprise fires might be informative. Then again, anybody remember Kelly Johnson's idea for killing carriers? Penetrator-shaped chunks of tool steel dropped from Blackbirds.
 

quellish

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There are so many things unknown about the DF-21D that it's almost humorous.

- Is the RV terminally guided?
- Is it a true ballistic missile, or is it more like the boost-glide trajectories of BOSS/AXE/HGV? (I've heard both)
- Is it a direct kill RV or does it deploy another munition like CAV was to?
- Does it receive midcourse guidance updates?

All of these things should be known before calling it an antiship system, yet they're not in the public domain.
 
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