While we lower our defenses in hopes of garnering "peace dividends," China is looking to develop more effective weapons systems which can effectively engage the US and its forces, such as the Dong Feng-21 ballistic missile.
According to the US Naval Institute Blog, the Dong Feng is a potential carrier killer, capable of striking a target from as far away as 2000 km, or 1240 miles. Rumors about its speed are in the range of Mach 10, giving it the capability of reaching a carrier within its range in about 12 minutes.
The mere mention of this weapon is challenging conventional Naval thought on strategy. As many people know about a decade or so ago, the Navy started moving towards Littoral combat, or coastal infighting.
If you think about the current defensive layer concept of a carrier battle group and the application of its renowned AEGIS combat system a carrier appears to be safe. However, we are talking about a ballistic missile, with a speed of Mach 10, which is being used as a primary kill weapon against a carrier. No such thought has been given to this before, nor a defense against it. Or has there?
While reading about this I came across this little nugget. From Mass High Tech on March 16th, 2009.
Schafer Corp. has landed $9.8 million from the U.S. Navy, according to the U.S. Department of Defense for directed energy and electric weapon systems research and development.This weapons race will be one of the more interesting. Right now it looks as if the Chinese have the greater edge though.
Under the deal, the Chelmsford-based company will design, engineer, analyze and test high-electron laser, free-electron laser, high-power microwave, electromagnetic launch, terahertz sources and detectors, and high-energy sources related to acceleration of particles. These weapon systems could be used to detect and destroy weapons of mass destruction and the vehicles carrying them.
Work on the contract will be performed in Washington and is expected to be completed by July 2014.