Author Topic: Why China Can't Target U.S. Aircraft Carriers  (Read 653 times)


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Why China Can't Target U.S. Aircraft Carriers
« on: August 11, 2019, 04:01:59 PM »
Why China Can't Target U.S. Aircraft Carriers
Loren Thompson Senior Contributor
Aerospace & Defense

Critics of U.S. aircraft carriers have been arguing for decades that the survival of the world’s biggest warships will increasingly be at risk in an era of long-range, precision-guided anti-ship missiles. In recent years, China has typically been identified as the military power most likely to drive U.S. carriers from the sea.

But the U.S. Navy seems much less worried about carrier attacks than observers who lack military credentials and clearances. In fact, the outgoing Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, told an audience earlier this year that “we’re less vulnerable now than we have been since and including World War II.”

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Nuclear power makes that possible. U.S. carriers essentially have unlimited range. If China’s military actually sights a carrier, it will not be where it was seen by the time weapons arrive. At 35 miles per hour, the carriers can be anywhere in an area measuring over 700 square miles within 30 minutes. That area grows to over 6,000 square miles after 90 minutes, which is the more likely time elapsed between detecting a carrier and launching a missile from the Chinese mainland.

But let’s back up for a moment and consider the multiple hurdles that Chinese attackers would need to overcome to successfully target a carrier. First, they would have to find the carrier; then they would have to fix its location; then they would have to establish a continuous track of its movements; then they would have to actually target the carrier with specific weapons; then they would have to penetrate the carrier’s multi-layered defenses to reach the target; and finally they would need to assess whether the resulting damage was sufficient to disable the carrier.

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