Photo: wikipedia commons
We’ve previously added to the hype surrounding China’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) – the “carrier-killer” missile that would be the world’s first and only ASBM system.But as time wore on and little proof emerged to back up China’s bold claims we backed off and waited for some evidence.
Tuesday Gizmodo published an article by Andrew Tarantola titled “China’s DF-21D Missile Is a One-Shot Aircraft Carrier Killer” that says that the DF-21D has “a maximum estimated range of 2,700 to 3,000 km” and is “capable of sinking an aircraft carrier … with one shot.”
We at BI are a big fans of Gizmodo, but we’ve got to point out that the sources cited (besides the ominous YouTube video) range from March 2009 to January 2011.
So it behooves us to point out the dubious nature of these claims.
On July 4 Harry Kazianis of The Diplomat pointed out that the “range of such a missile is very important” given its implications to the U.S. fleet and that the “2,700 to 3,000 km” number comes from an editorial addition in a China Daily article highlighted by China analyst Dr. Andrew S. Erickson.
As for the single shot claim, the Pentagon told Bloomberg in August 2011that China had developed a “workable design” of the world’s first ASBM, that the DF-21D had a “range exceeding 1,500 kilometers” and that it could “attack with warheads intended to destroy the aircraft on decks, aeroplane-launching gear and control towers,” but said nothing about being able to sink 4.5 acres of sovereign US territory.
As for the DF-21D’s deployment, Erickson wrote in January 2012 that although “PLA Chief of General Staff General Chen Bingde became the first Chinese government official to confirm publicly that China is developing the DF-21D” in July 2011, Chen also said the DF-21D was “still in the research stage” and “has not yet achieved operational capability.”
Erickson cites Aviation Week’s Bradley Perrett, who said that Chen’s comments “imply that any DF-21Ds that have been deployed are not regarded as properly developed.”
So even the thought of the DF-21D changes things in the Pacific, it won’t truly threaten the dominance of U.S. naval forces in the Pacific region until it’s proven to be the real deal.
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