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Monday, November 22, 2010

Pentagon Readies New Ship-Killers for Pacific Showdown

 U.S. Navy ships and subs with Air Force planes to form a tightly-knit, super-lethal, ship-killing force meant to counter an increasingly powerful Chinese fleet...

  • 3:43 pm  |  
  • Categories: China
Pentagon planners were wary of China's double-digit military-budget growth rates even before the global economic crisis put the squeeze on America's own defense investment. Now the Chinese army's growth continues while America's flat-lines. That's got the U.S. military, especially the Navy, scrambling for new ideas.
The most hopeful is an emerging concept for mixing U.S. Navy ships and subs with Air Force planes to form a tightly-knit, super-lethal, ship-killing force meant to counter an increasingly powerful Chinese fleet. The Pentagon calls it "AirSea Battle," an homage to NATO's Cold War "AirLand Battle" concept that pioneered tactics for taking out thousands of Soviet tanks with smart weapons. U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates called the classified AirSea Battle concept "encouraging."
It seems AirSea Battle mostly involves better communications and command procedures for integrating ships and planes into the same task forces. But there's at least one new piece of hardware: a new, more deadly anti-ship missile. On Wednesday, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Lockheed Martin a 3-year, $160 million contract to develop the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile. The goal is for LRASM to give Navy ships "the ability to attack important enemy ships outside the ranges of the enemy's ability to respond with anti-ship missiles of their own."
LRASM must fit into the Navy's existing vertical-launch cells and should rely less on "off-board" targeting — drones, planes, satellites — than current weapons. In other words, the LRASM must have its own, smart sensors. That would allow even isolated or electronically-jammed American ships to sink enemy vessels.
Darpa's interest in ship-killing missiles represent a major sea change — or a blast from the past. Time was, 20 years ago, the Navy had a bigger arsenal of anti-ship missiles, ranging from the tiny Penguin to the mid-size Harpoon and the huge, long-range Tomahawk. Today the Tomahawk is used strictly for land-attack and only a few ships carry Harpoons.
Meanwhile, other nations have pulled ahead in ship-sinking technology. Russia, India and Japan all have new ASMs. Indeed, those weapons — particularly the Japanese XASM-3, pictured — might offer a preview of LRASM's eventual design elements. Look for a stealthy shape, supersonic speed and several overlapping sensor types. And don't expect it to be cheap.
Photo: Japanese Ministry of Defense

 CapnVan | 11/11/10 | 4:06 pm |
Query: Given that current Chinese strategy vis a vis the USN is area denial, for which they don't even require surface ships, how would this help?

 mwilk | 11/11/10 | 8:17 pm |
Of course since the US has by far the largest surface fleet, advanced ship killing missiles represent more of a threat to the US Navy than anyone else. Wonder who the Russians will be selling their new missiles to? India is more or less our ally but could the opportunity to make a fast buck tempt them as well?

  •  Evil13rt | 11/12/10 | 7:13 am |
    I wonder if this is at all related to the "its not a missile, its an airliner!" incident from a few days ago…
    Nah, probably not.
  • Posted by: bandit1414 | 11/12/10 | 11:51 am |
    yes, yes, here come all the articles that china is an overstated threat just so the american people wont demand that the military get cut dramatically because WE ARE BROKE AND GOING DEEP INTO DEBT! over half of our tax money goes to defence and we spend more on defence than the rest of the world combined. this is bankrupting our country, not social security or medicaid!
  • Posted by: rafaeldrc | 11/12/10 | 5:18 pm |
    The clash of titans started nearly ten years ago between the USA and China, the USA initiating it be labeling China an adversary. Since then, we have demonized China in any underhanded manner we could get away with but considering the enormous debt we have owing to China, one should not bite the hand that feeds us. The problem is not China, it's our military and politicians always looking for some justification for being over armed. It's a dysfunction of our basic image of ourselves. If they won't obey, destroy them. China is not looking for a military confrontation neither now, nor in the future but when you take into account our bases in Korea, Japan, Guam, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan… you get the feeling you're surrounded and necessity dictates you increase military R&D and increase preparedness, as China is doing. The US has a long history of attacking other nations, more so than any other nation in recent history. Most justifications were bogus. China doesn't need to fire a single shot, simply stay clear of us militarily and allow our corporations to nose us under, as with the financial crisis and political influence of legislation. China is well underway to demonstrating that democracy run um-muck is far more dangerous to us, than they. Many developing and Third World countries are looking to China as a model to emulate. The problem is that the American people are fearful and so desperate to seem invincible that the steady build-up of propaganda against China will sink in, as did WMD. China is not the problem, it is US!

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