Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Assessing China’s Cruise Missile Ambitions

Dong Feng!

Saturation strikes from Collectivist Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles could become like the most biggest threat to Great Satan's carrier strike groups (CSG), warns top cats at Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs.

See, the cheap prices of developing, deploying and maintaining cruise missiles, the Chinese believe that cruise missiles possess a 9:1 cost advantage over the expense of defending against them. China assumes that “quantity can defeat quality” by simply saturating a CSG with a variety of high-speed, low-altitude, cruise missiles. 
Initially developed largely for coastal defense purposes, ASCMs today form an important component of China’s strategies of deterrence and access denial around and beyond the Taiwan Strait. The deployment of LACMs further enhances the PLA’s abilities to attack from long distances and therefore hold off U.S. intervention during crises in the strait. The growing importance of cruise missiles in military and campaign doctrines is a reflection of Beijing’s recognition of the following developments.

Withwidespread U.S. deployment of missile defenses, the introduction of the PAC-3 systems into Taiwan, and the likelihood of intervention by U.S. carrier strike groups in a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, cruise missiles could penetrate missile defenses in attacks on land targets and serve as “carrier killers” that could neutralize the U.S. capility to defend Taiwan. Chinese LACMs have the potential to neutralize land-based Patriot batteries, and ASCMs have the potential to neutralize CSGs. This may explain why, over the past decade, the PLAN has fielded such a large number of ASCMs that an overwhelming asymmetry has been established in the Western Pacific where U.S. ASCMs are now outnumbered seven to one.

In that context, U.S. maritime superiority may be undermined by the large number of increasingly capable ASCMs the PLAN deploys on its surface warships and submarines. This so-called “assassin’s mace” augurs the prospect of the Chinese military deterring a much stronger opponent and thus supports a strategy of “not losing” in an asymmetrical operation environment. At the same time, LACMs operating in tandem with conventionally armed ballistic missiles could provide the PLA with sufficient firepower to increase the effectiveness of its still limited air force to quickly gain a decisive advantage over Taiwan’s forces before U.S. intervention is possible.

Third, given the many potential advantages of ASCMs, the degree to which Great Satan has neglected to deploy them is striking. As mentioned previously, U.S. Navy surface forces’ ASCM inventory consists solely of Harpoons and not in great quantity.

While the U.S. Navy and its Chinese counterpart have different forces and operational priorities, it would seem ill advised for Great Satan to limit herself so severely in both the type and the quantity of ASCMs.

Fourth, Beijing is acutely aware that its cruise missile inventory, while growing and
becoming more advanced and versatile, may become vulnerable to missile defenses and that her cruise missile launch platforms are subject to attack.

But it is making progress in this and other areas. For example, China has already deployed Beidou I fully and is in the process of deploying Beidou II/Compass, which will provide its own source of accurate satellite navigation. Further, the DH-10 is believed to use TERCOM midcourse navigation, which obviates any need to depend on GPS or GPS-like satellite navigation signals

Moreover, Great Satan has canceled major cruise missile defense programs that would be valuable against such threats over land. Nevertheless, any lingering dependence on the U.S. GPS or Russian GLONASS systems could seriously limit or even paralyze operational effectiveness of Chinese cruise missiles should access to these systems be either denied or become unavailable due to technical difficulties. Similarly, China also recognizes the need to defend itself against enemy cruise missile attacks.

The limited open-source information we have used for our analysis suggests that China has made significant progress in cruise missile developments over the past five decades. Still, a number of issues could remain as obstacles to the modernization of its ASCM/LACM inventory. As with its ballistic missile development, development of various ASCM and LACM prototypes/systems, from design to factory trial tests to launch tests, typically has taken a considerable time, sometimes more than 20 years.

Granted, in the 1960s and 1970s, China experienced significant disruption in its weapons development programs due to the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution, but the rather modestrate with which many of China’s new generation weapons systems have come through to fruition (at least until recently) indicates a defense industry that still faces challenges  

Pic - "The Dragon's Spear!"