Times of India – August 7, 2010
Nothing projects US global air and sea power more vividly than supercarriers. Bristling with fighter jets that can reach deep into even landlocked trouble zones, America's virtually invincible carrier fleet has long enforced its dominance of the high seas.
China may soon put an end to that.
US naval planners are scrambling to deal with what analysts say is a game-changing weapon being developed by China — an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D
that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500km.
Analysts say final testing of the missile could come as soon as the end of this year, though questions remain about how fast China will be able to perfect its accuracy to the level needed to threaten a moving carrier at sea.
The weapon, a version of which was displayed last year in a Chinese military parade, could revolutionize China's role in the Pacific balance of power, seriously weakening Washington's ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea. It could also deny US ships safe access to international waters near China's 18,000km -long coastline.
While a nuclear bomb could sink a carrier, assuming its user was willing to raise the stakes to atomic levels, the conventionally-armed Dong Feng 21D's uniqueness is in its ability to hit a powerfully defended moving target with pin-point precision.
Last updated 12/08/2010