Carrier killer missile
Years ago the publication called USNI News (United States Naval Institute) put on its front page a dramatic image of an American aircraft carrier hit by DF-21D, a Chinese ballistic conventional anti-ship missile whose range is about 1500 km.
Of course this never happened, the image is artwork. But why would the US Naval Institute publish an image showing an America ship being destroyed?
Isn’t it defeatist?
(More to the point, would any Israeli media ever show an image of an Israeli asset being destroyed, when in fact this event did not even happen?)
The reason USNI News did this, they were sounding an alarm. The new Chinese missile, which at that time was only being developed and not yet in service, could sink American carriers within 1500 km from the Chinese coast. But to operate against China, at that time they would have to be closer than 1500 km!
So the missile would defeat the US Navy without even firing a single shot, because carriers would not take the risk of going close to China.
The USNI News were saying, wake up! Your plans are outdated. You need new equipment and new operational concepts.
The very first solution was the SM-6, an anti-ballistic missile carried by destroyers that protect the carrier. Even though it worked well, this was not good enough, because sometimes antimissile defenses fail to intercept (Israelis know this well).
A better solution was to allow the aircraft carriers to attack from farther than 1500 km. To do this, a completely new type of aircraft was developed: an unmanned stealth bomber that can also be used as a tanker, and can be launched from aircraft carriers. They would either attack by themselves or provide fuel to extend the range of manned aircraft, so as to let the carrier stay out of DF-21D range.
Was it patriotic to admit vulnerability?
Obviously, countries like North Korea, or Iran, or Russia, would never do anything like this. They always portray themselves as the mightiest, superior to anything their enemies can throw at them. They stage grandiose military parades, to show the whole world how they would be victorious in any confrontation and how their enemies will inevitably lose.
Americans on the other hand do not care if others think they’ll win or if they’ll lose. All they care about is that they actually win, if the fight takes place.
This is why an American could write a book like Catch 22. Anywhere else, they would send him to a gulag.
Does a Secretary of Defense need to be a tough guy?
Ashton Carter, the Secretary of Defense with the Obama administration, began his career as a theoretical physicist. Later to switched to political science and taught at Harvard. One of his contributions was the idea of preventive defense: countering future threats while they are still in development.
The current SecDef Patrick Shanahan began his career at Boeing. He participated in the development of Boeing 777, the world’s first airplane that was designed entirely on computer, without any prototypes.
Suffices to say that neither Carter nor Shanahan ever threatened anyone. They never used aggressive language talking about unfriendly foreign nations.
It would be completely unimaginable for them to suggest assassination of hostile leaders, as some ministers in some other countries do!
Why did USNI News want to warn?
It would have been nice if USNI News acted solely out of altruistic concern. But it was more than that. They are partly funded by General Dynamics, which is very active in supplying equipment to DOD.
So the professional engineers at General Dynamics understood the developing threat to aircraft carriers even earlier than anyone in the government caught up to it.
Which goes to say, private defense contractors can do a better job than governmentally managed industries.
This may be of interest to countries with large government owned industries — like Israel.