Strategic Weapons: Chinas Heavenly Thunderbolts


May 27, 2007: The Chinese military press has published numerous articles on how to defeat U.S. Navy carrier task forces. For example, China is known to be developing terminal guidance systems for its ballistic missiles. This would enable a Chinese ballistic missile to be fired to an area, about a hundred kilometers in diameter, believed to contains an American carrier. If the carrier was there, the conventional warhead would come right down on the carrier. For this kind of job, the ballistic missile could use an armor piercing (non-explosive) warhead. At the high speed of an ballistic missile warhead (several times faster than a rifle bullet) plunging back to earth, the damage to the carrier would be enormous. At the very least, flight operations would be halted. This tactic is not new, both the United States, and the defunct Soviet Union worked on the technical aspects of this.

Chinese officers also discuss the use of high-altitude nuclear explosions to produce an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) that would damage communications on U.S. warships below. By using EMP at sea, there would be less damage to civilian infrastructure. China also appears to be continuing work on anti-satellite satellites. China is already a major player in the Internet warfare area, and is believed to be actively attacking American military networks.

China also discusses using their ballistic missiles, with conventional warheads, against headquarters and communications facilities, both on Taiwan, and American bases in the region. Less often discussed is how China would cope with similar attacks on its own headquarters and infrastructure. China is also still at a major disadvantage when it comes to ICBMs. It cannot reach the United States with any of these, while the U.S. has enough ICBM warheads to obliterate China. But the bet here is that a vigorous grab for Taiwan would not bring down an American ICBM attack. So if China can defeat the U.S. Navy in a battle for Taiwan, a war is won without risking the destruction of China itself.


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