19FortyFive notes that it’s become virtually cliche to say that the Chinese can deploy “carrier-killer” missiles which render U.S. aircraft carriers useless.
The DF-26 anti-ship missile, developed by the People’s Liberation Army of China, is purportedly capable of traveling over 2,000 miles to destroy carriers. Leaders in the United States Navy have made it plain that their aircraft carriers will go “wherever” they need to project power. The United States has developed a “carrier-killer” anti-ship missile to counter China’s threat.
The Navy remains determined to keep its Carrier Air Wings and Carrier Strike Groups flying high for the foreseeable future. Electronic warfare, laser weapons, the Aegis Combat System for missile defense, and the Vertical Launch System for firing fast interceptions at enemy weapons like the SM-2, SM-3, and SM-6 are all examples of this technology.
Carrier strike groups make use of modernized deck-fired interceptor missiles. Rockets like the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II can operate in a sea-skimming mode to intercept and destroy an oncoming cruise missile flying parallel to the surface.
Mobile launchers for carrier-killer missiles can be promptly located by a “mesh” monitoring network constructed by hundreds of satellites in Medium and Low Earth Orbit and then cued to be destroyed before, during, or after launch. As a surface and aerial “node” in a more extensive meshed system, carriers rely heavily on multi-domain networking and unmanned systems for defense.
Ship-based fire control may receive threat intelligence from drones, manned aircraft, and launch interceptors. The absolute magnitude of the threat presented by China’s “carrier killers” is in debate due to the rapid evolution of sensor range, weapon range, and secure multi-domain networking. While the Chinese have demonstrated and tested carrier-killer missiles, many questions remain about their targeting and guidance capabilities. The MQ-25 Stingray is the first of its type, a drone refueler that can be launched from a naval aircraft carrier and increase the combat range of such planes by two. Since they would be twice as far away, carriers would be less susceptible to shore-launched anti-ship missiles like China’s carrier killers, allowing them to threaten enemy territories. Since they would be twice as far away, carriers would be less susceptible to shore-launched anti-ship missiles like China’s carrier killers, allowing them to threaten enemy territories.