What if China won a crucial naval engagement and took the United States’ aircraft carrier?
The Pentagon, Congress, the White House, and the general public would all experience terror as a result of this shot, which would be heard around the globe.
China has a variety of ways it may destroy a carrier, including ship-launched “hybrid missile-torpedoes,” carrier killer missiles, hypersonic missiles, conventional stand-off missiles from warplanes, and torpedoes and cruise missiles from submarines.
Let’s look at a few of these ideas, which also operate as a de facto introduction to the military might of China during the past few decades:
The carrier-killing missiles DF-21D and DF-26 have a striking range of 1,000 to 2,500 miles.
It is dual-purpose and can launch up to 4,000-pound nuclear and conventional warheads.
The 2,500-mile range of the DF-26 might aid China’s anti-access area denial operations against American carriers.
A dedicated anti-ship missile is the DF-21D. It is also road transportable and solid-fueled. It has a 1,335-mile range. The DF-21D is 36 feet in length, weighs 32,407 pounds, and can carry 1,322 pounds of cargo.
With its hypersonic glide vehicle, the DF-17 missile can also take out an aircraft carrier.
In 2019, China displayed this missile. The missile can travel at speeds between 5 and 10 Mach. Over 1,500 miles is its greatest travel distance. A nuclear or conventional payload is also an option.
Its speed and agility enable it to outwit the air defence systems of adversaries. Military Today outlined its might and toughness. “It may even reengage the victim if its initial attack is unsuccessful. As an alternative, right before reaching its objective, the glide vehicle might fall to a very low height.
The YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missile may be carried by the powerful Xian H-6K bomber. This missile can do manoeuvres in the air and flies at a MACH 3 speed.
It has a multi-stage rocket and a 1,100 pound warhead that can launch conventional or nuclear payloads.
After taking off from the H-6 bomber, it has a 248-mile range.
The YJ-12 is risky since it is outside the Aegis Combat Systems’ and SM-2 surface-to-air missiles’ and ships’ ballistic missile defence ranges. Protection against the YJ-12 is “much more challenging because to its corkscrew-like spins which allow it to elude final defences,” according to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.
China’s Type0938 Shang II-class submarines are perhaps the country’s finest. It is capable of firing both the Yu-6 wire-guided torpedo and the YJ-82 anti-ship missile.
The Yu-6 is comparable to the American Mk48, the navy’s most sophisticated torpedo. Also transportable are electric torpedoes.
The fact that China recently tested a combination missile-torpedo weapon raises more serious concerns. This anti-ship weapon is fired from a ship and transforms into a torpedo during its final phase. The missile travels at 32,000 feet at MACH 2.5. This section covers 124 miles. Then it turns into a torpedo and swoops down to skim the water.
These are some terrifying potential ways to bring down an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. All techniques work well. Even while the American AEGIS Combat System is effective, it could not be sufficient, particularly if the YJ-12 is launched outside of its intended range. The only remaining option to stop these approaching weapons is to use the Phalanx close-in weapon system on board the ship.
Obviously dangerous and far more difficult to protect against are hypersonics. Flat-tops will be prevented from operating where they choose by the DF-21D and DF-26. To prevent enemy submarines from getting near enough to launch anti-ship missiles or torpedoes, the Americans will need to concentrate their anti-submarine operations.
If the new hybrid missile-torpedo is ever used in large quantities, it would necessitate additional detection efforts that many in the U.S. Navy have probably never considered.
Overall, the Americans will face a difficult situation and may need to keep out of harm’s way while relying on their troops to engage the Chinese in combat before they can begin an attack. Tracking every one of these weapons will be a challenge for naval intelligence.
Author Biography: Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the editor of 1945’s defence and national security section and the writer of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is a former U.S. Army infantry officer and a specialist on emerging threats. Follow him on Twitter by typing in @BMEastwood. He has a doctorate in both political science and international relations.