Minggu, April 04, 2010

China Testing Anti Ship Ballistic Missile

China Testing Ballistic Missile ‘Carrier-Killer’

Dr. Andrew Erickson is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute and a Truman Security Fellow. This is his first post for Danger Room; these are solely his personal views.

Last week, Adm. Robert Willard, the head of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), made an alarming but little-noticed disclosure. China, he told legislators, was “developing and testing a conventional anti-ship ballistic missile based on the DF-21/CSS-5 [medium-range ballistic missile] designed specifically to target aircraft carriers.”

What, exactly, does this mean? Evidence suggests that China has been developing an anti-ship ballistic missile, or ASBM, since the 1990s. But this is the first official confirmation that it has advanced to the stage of actual testing.

If they can be deployed successfully, Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles would be the first capable of targeting a moving aircraft-carrier strike group from long-range, land-based mobile launchers. And if not countered properly, this and other “asymmetric” systems — ballistic and cruise missiles, submarines, torpedoes and sea mines — could potentially threaten U.S. operations in the western Pacific, as well as in the Persian Gulf.

Willard’s disclosure should come as little surprise: China’s interest in developing ASBM and related systems has been documented in Department of Defense and National Air and Space Intelligence Center reports, as well as by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and the Congressional Research Service. Senior officials — including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead — have pointed to the emerging threat as well.
n November 2009, Scott Bray, ONI’s Senior Intelligence Officer-China, said that Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile development “has progressed at a remarkable rate.” In the span of just over a decade, he said, “China has taken the ASBM program from the conceptual phase to nearing an operational capability.… China has elements of an [over-the-horizon] network already in place and is working to expand its horizon, timeliness and accuracy.”

When someone of Bray’s stature makes that kind of statement, attention is long overdue.

Equally intriguing has been the depiction of this capability in the Chinese media. A lengthy November 2009 program about anti-ship ballistic missiles broadcast on China Central Television Channel 7 (China’s official military channel) featured an unexplained — and rather badly animated — cartoon sequence. This curious 'toon features a sailor who falsely assumes that his carrier’s Aegis defense systems can destroy an incoming ASBM as effectively as a cruise missile, with disastrous results.

Likewise, Chinese media seem to be tracking PACOM’s statements about this more closely than the U.S. press. The graphic above is drawn from an article on Dongfang Ribao (Oriental Daily), the website of a Shanghai newspaper.

Beijing has been developing an ASBM capability at least since the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait Crisis. That strategic debacle for China likely convinced its leaders to never again allow U.S. carrier strike groups to intervene in what they consider to be a matter of absolute sovereignty. And China’s military, in an apparent attempt to deter the United States from intervening in Taiwan and other claimed areas on China’s disputed maritime periphery, seems intent on dropping significant hints of its own progress.

U.S. ships, however, will not offer a fixed target for China’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles. Military planning documents like the February 2010 Joint Operating Environment and Quadrennial Defense Review clearly recognize America’s growing “anti-access” challenge, and the QDR — the Pentagon’s guiding strategy document — charges the U.S. military with multiple initiatives to address it.

In a world where U.S. naval assets will often be safest underwater, President Obama’s defense budget supports building two submarines a year and investing in a new ballistic-missile submarine. And developing effective countermeasures against anti-ship ballistic missiles is a topic of vigorous discussion in Navy circles. The United States is clearly taking steps to prevent this kind of weapon from changing the rules of the game in the Western Pacific, but continued effort will be essential for U.S. maritime forces to preserve their role in safeguarding the global commons.

Air Dropped Mortar Successfully Demonstrated from Tactical UAV

BOTHELL, Wash. – General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has successfully guided an 81mm Air-Dropped Guided Mortar (ADM) to a stationary ground target. The guide-to-target flight demonstrations, conducted at Ft. Sill, Okla., confirmed the ability of the 81mm ADM using a novel guidance kit and fuze to provide a precision strike capability for Tactical-Class Unmanned Aircraft (TUAV). The ADM was released from a TUAV using the company’s newly developed “Smart Rack” carriage and release system that enables weaponization of any TUAV platform.

Application of RCFC technology to the 81mm air-dropped guided mortar has been developed in conjunction with the U.S. Army’s Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) in Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. ARDEC developed and successfully tested environmental sensors for the guidance kit’s fuzing system. The results from the Ft. Sill flight tests built on previously successful 81mm air-dropped guided mortar guide-to-target flight demonstrations by General Dynamics and ARDEC in Kingman, Ariz., in December 2008.
Designed to meet the needs of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Special Forces for a rapid target response capability, the ADM uses existing mortar inventory to provide a low-cost, lightweight weapon system with proven energetics. The company’s patented Roll Controlled Fixed Canard (RCFC) guidance kit, with an innovative flight-control and GPS-based guidance and navigational system, adds precision strike capability to existing mortars. The nose-mounted guidance kit replaces existing mortar fuzes and has been successfully demonstrated on multiple mortar calibers in both air-drop and tube-launch applications and provides a common, multi-platform Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) and integrated weapon system for unmanned aircraft.

The tube-launched application is a low-cost guidance approach that has been successfully demonstrated at Yuma Proving Grounds in a tactical 120mm guided mortar configuration known as the Roll Controlled Guided Mortar (RCGM). The tube launched 120mm RCGM uses the existing warhead and the M934A1 fuze.

Australian Super Hornets with a F-111

Australia is acquiring 24 Block II F/A-18F Super Hornets as a bridging air combat capability during the transition to the F35 Joint Strike Fighter.The F/A-18F Super Hornet (Rhino) is a true multi-role aircraft that spans the air combat spectrum, including maritime strike which is vital for Australia.The Super Hornets will be progressively introduced to their new home at Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley throughout 2010 and 2011.

Boustead Heavy Keen to Build More Naval Patrol Vessels

BOUSTEAD Heavy Industries Bhd (BHIC) is looking at building the second batch of patrol vessels for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).

"We are aggressively looking at getting in new projects, including deals with the government. With the first batch of the patrol vessels coming to an end, we are proposing a second batch of patrol vessels," BHIC managing director Tan Sri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor told reporters after its annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur .

In 1998, the government awarded a contract to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of BHIC, to construct and deliver six patrol vessels to the RMN. The last two patrol vessels are currently undergoing final outfitting work.

On the possibility that the government might hold off plans to commission more patrol vessels to conserve funds, Ahmad Ramli is confident that the government will see the long term benefits of such a programme.

"Our second batch will be working on very high local content which would translate as stimulus to the economy. A project of this size would also not be short term in nature but could spread over two Malaysia Plans," he said.

On the number of vessels it is proposing, Ahmad Ramli said it will be a project that will be able to create the volume needed for further technology acquisitions.

"Its a spin off issue for the industry. We are very active in developing vendors. The onus will be on us to convince the government to proceed with such a project," he said.

BHIC is still dependant on defence projects, a year and a half after making a decision to diversify its income stream.

Currently, 70 per cent of its shipbuilding business, which makes up the bulk of contribution to revenue, comes from the defence sector while 30 per cent is from the commercial sector.

The company's shipbuilding order book stands at RM2.2 billion.The company is also involved in ship repair work, and is a licensed Petronas fabricator for the oil and gas industry.

Ahmad Ramli is confident that 2010 will be a better year than 2009 for the company.

"There is a recovery which is slowly translating into activities, and short of anything unexpected like the 2008/2008 crisis, we are confident that the market will be much better than 2009," he said.

BHIC's 2009 net profit dropped by more than a third to RM76.6 million in 2009 from 116.9 million in 2008, due to higher project costs and lower share of profits in associates last year.