China has implemented a new system of using land-based ballistic missiles to deter powerful US nuclear-powered aircraft carriers from approaching its shores, according to a team of Indian analysts.
A constellation of satellites and at least one radar above the horizon give its anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) system the ability to determine the position of U.S. aircraft carriers at sea, according to estimates released by researchers at the ‘National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore.
Land-based ballistic missiles, carrying warheads maneuverable with conventional ammunition, could then, if necessary, target aircraft carriers at a distance of around 2,000 km.
The ASBM had “shaken the traditional view of the unassailable superiority of the US Navy in the Pacific,” according to a report prepared by a panel of experts from the Institute’s program for strategic and international security studies.
The system “will serve as a credible deterrent against US intervention in China’s maritime disputes, many of which it has with its Asian neighbors,” he noted.
“No one believed that it was possible to target moving aircraft carriers with long-range ballistic missiles,” said S. Chandrashekar, who participated in the assessment. The Chinese had developed “a very innovative system” based on well understood components.
China’s constellation of military Yaogan satellites includes those for Electronic Intelligence Collection (ELINT) that detect radio signals and other electronic emissions from an aircraft carrier and its associated warships. China currently has three groups of ELINT satellites that provide global surveillance.
In each cluster, there are three satellites that maintain a triangular formation in orbit and can locate ships producing radio signals with an accuracy of 25 km to 100 km, he said.
The Yaogan constellation also includes radar satellites as well as satellites equipped with optical sensors that allow the position of aircraft carriers to be established with much greater precision.
In a single day, the current Yaogan constellation can provide approximately 16 targeting opportunities for ballistic missile launches when the uncertainty of an aircraft carrier’s position is less than 10 km.
“These preliminary results suggest that China has set up a space surveillance system capable of identifying, locating and tracking an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean,” according to a recent report prepared by analysts.
Although land-based ballistic missiles can target aircraft carriers using only the Yaogon constellation, the number of targeting opportunities decreases if cloud cover obscures the view of satellites with optical sensors, observed Professor Chandrashekar.
By incorporating an over-the-horizon radar capable of continuously tracking aircraft carriers up to a distance of around 3,000 km, the Chinese gain the flexibility to launch ballistic missiles whenever they want, he said. -He underlines.
He and his colleagues also discovered that China could modify its proven DF-21 ballistic missile to carry a maneuverable warhead. With an on-board radar, the warhead could, as it descended into the atmosphere, accurately locate the moving aircraft carrier and then adjust its trajectory to strike the ship with conventional ammunition.
Their analysis of freely accessible images of the DF-21D indicated that this missile variant met the dimensional requirements for such a mission. It could affect ships located about 2,000 km from the Chinese mainland.
The F-18 Super Hornet, the US Navy’s primary carrier attack aircraft, has a mission radius of approximately 750 km. China would therefore like to prevent formidable American carrier groups from venturing within 1,000 km of its coast, according to their report.
The Chinese military is known to have successfully tested the ASBM against a ground simulation of an aircraft carrier, he said.
“The open literature does not provide any information as to whether the system has also been tested with a ship at sea,” he told the correspondent.