As the U.S. makes clear it will defend Japan should China try and lay claim to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, this Chinese announcement from mid-2012 offers additional perspective.Once the U.S. announced it’s turning attention from the Middle East and directing military assets to the Pacific, it didn’t take long for China to make clear how it would handle what it saw as a new regional threat.
The Economic Times reported China promptly increased its conventional missile capability to carry out multiple launches, from multiple sites —a tactic that could overwhelm a Navy ship’s defenses and cripple its abilities.
Tan Weihong, Commander of China’s Second Artillery Force said, “Conventional missiles are a trump card in modern warfare. So we must be ready at any time. We must be able to deliver a quick response to attacks, hit the targets with high accuracy, and destroy them totally. Of the 114 missiles [our brigade] has launched so far, all have accurately hit the target.“
For each incoming missile a U.S. Navy ship will have to perform some variation of the following actions:
First it will launch a long-range air defence missile, like a SM-2ER. If that fails, then a shorter range missile like the ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile) will go out — then the ship’s main deck guns will fire anti-air rounds with fused airburst shells.
Surviving missiles will be engaged by close-in weapons systems like the Mk-15 Phalanx or the RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile). Any incoming missiles struck by these systems will be so close, and moving so fast, that incoming shrapnel and debris would likely be unavoidable.
While all these “Hard Kill” options are going on, the ship’s electronic warfare systems will have been trying to jam the incoming missile, offering the missile a false target, while firing off chaff (for radar guided weapons) and flares (for infrared guided weapons).
All that for every single missile, so if China can send off several at once directed at the same ship, the chances of success on their part may increase exponentially.
China would launch its ordnance both from shore and its new Aegis type 052 Luhu-class destroyers. This battle plan is especially relevant given the developments in the area over the past few days, which I’ll address in a following post.
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