Home / Robert Farley / This Fully Armed and Operational Aircraft Carrier…

This Fully Armed and Operational Aircraft Carrier…


The “China has an aircraft carrier with no aircraft” talking point is now obsolete:

Some analysis here. Impressive work.

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  • Alan Tomlinson

    It seemed to me that the launch was unassisted by a catapult. Did I miss something here?

    The question here for me remains, how much money do they want to spend? Carrier groups for the US are phenomenally expensive. I suspect they will prove similarly expensive for the Chinese.


    Alan Tomlinson

    • Warren Terra

      I’m very much not an expert, but I thought the Soviet and Chinese carrier used a ski jump rather than a catapult?

    • c u n d gulag

      I’m with you – if China wants to spend more of its GDP on things like carriers, more power to it (so to speak, of course).

      Carriers in open modern naval warfare, are just huge, expensive, targets.

      They do, though, serve very useful purposes in peace-keeping, and providing air cover for land-based military action – like we’ve done in Vietnam, and in the two Iraq Wars (with limited success as far as victory in two of those).

      One question, to me, is does China have a plan to extend its sphere of influence (as it appears they do), and is their looming carrier fleet in support of some coming military action to expand, and then maintain, that sphere?

      It seems that we here in the US have a lot less to worry about in the short run than do the Taiwanese, and other nations along Asia’s Pacific Rim.

      The other question I have, is this just a feint by the Chinese, while they continue to grow their economy, to have us increase the percentage of military expenditures in relation to OUR GDP, in the hopes of us continuing to spend money on military toys that we hope never to use?

      Btw – We already have China too involved in making an assortment of things for our military.
      Whose bright idea was outsourcing the manufacturing of US military, or military-related, items to China?

      • Major Kong

        Not sure.

        They depend on oil from the Middle East and raw materials from Africa. Some military analysts believe they’re building a “blue water” navy to protect those supply routes.

      • Dave

        Whatever else may be the case, it is certainly not the case that China has enough spare cash to lob around that they would embark on building a blue-water navy just to fuck with the Pentagon’s [or the Fed’s] head. That’s the kind of idea that comes from the belief that the USA really is the only thinh worth thinking about. Vulgar Chomskyism, as we call it.

      • Anonymous

        For a country like the U.S. (and to a lesser extent other powers which engage in peace-keeping ops) an aircraft carrier fleet makes some strategic sense– no need for ground bases, etc- I mean its almost definitely suicidal in a conflict among peers or near peers, but you could argue that aircraft carriers are among the most useful “prestige” item in modern arsenals- they certainly serve more of a purpose than a 6th generation fighter or a stealth bomber.

        • Anonymous

          For power projection purposes.

      • ajay

        Carriers in open modern naval warfare, are just huge, expensive, targets.

        Tell that to the Argentinians.

    • Carrier groups for the US are phenomenally expensive. I suspect they will prove similarly expensive for the Chinese.

      It is very unlikely that the Chinese will attempt to design and use their carrier groups for the world-beating expeditionary missions for which ours are designed and used. A carrier group whose job it is to deter incursions into the waters just off one’s own coast is much less expensive than one whose jobs it is to sail into the most contested seas on earth, take on all comes and win, while also providing air power for a ground force.

      • Alan Tomlinson

        We’ll see.


        Alan Tomlinson

      • Mike G

        It seems to me that deterring incursions off your own coast is most effectively (and cost-effectively) done from land bases. The whole practical purpose of a carrier (aside from prestige) is operating far from home and far from land air bases.

        • Have you ever heard of “defense in depth?”

          Even the most ardent advocate of shore batteries would approve of having a navy on his side to make the opponent’s job more complicated.

  • Vladimir

    Yes, but the China has now achieved a military capability , achieved by the US and Japan about seven or eight decades ago and India four decades ago……that talking point is alive and well.

    • heckblazer

      …and Brazil five decades ago. I find saying that China has finally caught up to Brazil and India takes the edge off for most people.

  • The Dark Avenger

    The War Nerd on why carriers are floating targets, basically.

    You know why that’s an understatement? Because of a short little sentence I found farther on in the article—and before you read that sentence, I want all you trusting Pentagon groupies to promise me that you’ll think hard about what it implies. Here’s the sentence: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

    That’s right: no defense at all. The truth is that they have very feeble defenses against any attack with anything more modern than cannon. I’ve argued before no carrier group would survive a saturation attack by huge numbers of low-value attackers, whether they’re Persians in Cessnas and cigar boats or mass-produced Chinese cruise missiles. But at least you could look at the missile tubes and Phalanx gatlings and pretend that you were safe. But there is no defense, none at all, against something as obvious as a ballistic missile.

    So it doesn’t matter one god damn whether the people in the operations room of a targeted carrier could track the Dong Feng 21 as it lobbed itself at them. They might do a real hall-of-fame job of tracking it as it goes up and comes down. But so what? Let me repeat the key sentence here: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.

    • Alan Tomlinson

      There is of course that using a ballistic missile tends to lead to worldwide nuclear devastation since such a weapon looks like a nuke when it’s launched. Submarine crews have called surface ships targets for a long time; it hasn’t made it true.


      Alan Tomlinson

      • Warren Terra

        It’s not just a weapon that looks like a nuke; at least some of the proposed ballistic anti-carrier weapons are nukes, albeit exploding in mid ocean rather than killing civilians. I think maybe you can’t aim them well enough to hit a carrier after a thousand or two miles otherwise.

    • Rob

      Flies don’t have a defense against bullets either, that doesn’t meaning shooting up your home trying to hit one makes any sense.

      • The Dark Avenger

        Excluded middle, look it up, willya? The article talks about the Chinese BM, not nukes, genius.

        • Lurker

          The problem here is that a conventional anti-ship ballistic missile is very difficult to construct. The missile will take about 20 minutes to strike its target, and a carrier group will receive early warning on the launch at 5 minutes from launch, at the latest.

          Assuming that evasive measures are instituted at 10 minutes from launch, the carrier has still 10 minutes to steam to a random direction at ca. 30 knots. This means the carrier will be some 10 km from the position where she would be, had she maintained steady course. Even if the missile is equipped with a nuclear warhead, it will not destroy its target, unless the missile is guided mid-flight.

          Directing a ballistic missile mid-flight is not impossible, as some claim, but is is difficult, and requires active target-tracking. I would hate to be the submarine skipper whose duty it is to be near surface in the middle of a carrier group formation, emitting radio signals to the missile to guide it to the target.

          • The Dark Avenger

            That works well against ‘dumb’ BM, but the Harpoon isn’t so easily evaded:

            But once the Harpoon’s own radar has spotted the target, does it keep flying level to slam into the side of the ship? Nope. I’ll quote from the owner’s manual: “Once a target has been located and the seeker locked…the missile climbs rapidly to about 1800m before diving on the target (“pop-up maneuver”).” In other words, the Harpoon does a last-minute transformation from wave-skimmer to ballistic missile. If you diagrammed its flight path, seen from the side, You’d get a capital “P” lying on its back, with the loop of the “P” being the pop-up maneuver.

            The reason the Harpoon was designed to hit the target from above rather than the side is simple: a ships defenses are configured to stop planes (and missiles, even though they don’t work against missiles and everybody knows it) coming in diagonally or horizontally. To repeat that sentence again–and I’m going to keep repeating it till everybody realizes what it means–”ships currently [just like in 1977 when the Harpoon entered service] have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

            So we have the Navy’s own weapons system testifying against it: way back in Carter’s time the Navy bought a weapon that was designed to hit ships like a ballistic missile, yet now, forty years later, USN ships have no defense against ballistic missiles.

            • Andrew

              Whoever wrote that has no idea what they are talking about. Harpoon is a subsonic cruise-type missile. Is this guy saying we can’t engage subsonic aircraft flying at 5000 feet? The entire history of anti-aircraft warfare since Vietnam says otherwise.

              • Major Kong

                The Harpoon is a very small target and it flies very low before executing an “up and over” maneuver near the target.

                Not saying you couldn’t engage one, but it’s not as easy as you make it sound.

                I would expect a country like China to try to saturate the defenses with large numbers of cheap missiles.

                You also don’t need to sink the carrier, that’s just a bonus. You’re trying to damage it enough to where it can’t launch and recover aircraft, which is its Raison d’etre.

            • Robert Farley

              I’ve gone into this in more detail at other times and in other places, but the short answer is that if you’re reading the War Nerd to learn about defense systems you’re doing it terribly, terribly wrong. His aircraft carrier stuff isn’t the worst (the stuff on guerrilla warfare is just gruesomely bad), but it’s pretty terrible.

              Both ballistic missiles and cruise missiles can be destroyed, decoyed, and otherwise engaged by extant on-board defense systems of aircraft carriers and their battlegroups; the “no defense” is simply wrong. This does not mean that carriers are invulnerable to either cruise or ballistic missiles, however.

              See here and here for more. And if you want to know about military capabilities and defense politics, *do not read the War Nerd*; you’ll wind up less informed than when you started.

              • The Dark Avenger

                Mr. Farley, please tell us why this quote from the Pentagon that the War Nerd used is wrong:

                I want all you trusting Pentagon groupies to promise me that you’ll think hard about what it implies. Here’s the sentence: “Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.”

                (the stuff on guerrilla warfare is just gruesomely bad)

                Actually, his analysis of why the Tamil Tigers ultimately lost their fight is spot-on:

                Prabhakaran decided to settle for a ceasefire and set up his precious “state” in the north of Sri Lanka, and he went whole hog. Nobody loves bureaucracy more than an Indian, and the LTTE was suddenly turned into rubber-stamping, desk-grabbing, bribe-taking office pigs. Just imagine what the DMV office would be like in Hell and you’ve got the idea. Every cadre wanted payback for the years hunkered down in the bush from every poor sucker who needed a document stamped. They actually started a “living tax”—as in a tax on the fact that you were breathing. And being a guerrilla army, they made it real clear that if you didn’t pay your breathing tax, they had no problem about interrupting your oxygen supply.

                When you think about the LTTE’s famous air force and navy from this angle, they don’t look so cool any more. I admit, I wrote how cool they were, but since I’ve been looking deeper I see they were part of the whole “legitimate state” bullshit business plan that sank the whole movement. They were just more showing off, more trying to be like the big boys. In hindsight it’d have been better for the LTTE to stick to what makes guerrilla armies strong: the AK, RPG and staying tight with the villagers.

                This is what Mao would have called “mismanaging your prime asset.” Not that Mao would’ve used that capitalist-roader talk but what he taught his PLA cadres amounted to the same lesson: you better treat the people decent (Mao said, “Don’t take anything from the peasants, not even a sweet potato”), because it’s the people, not the land you claim, that keeps you strong. Here’s the key Mao quote that Prabhakaran and his little careerists should’ve memorized: “Lose land to keep people, land can be retaken; lose people to keep land, land and people both lost.”

                • cpinva

                  if this his best, his worst must be god awful:

                  but what he taught his PLA cadres amounted to the same lesson: you better treat the people decent (Mao said, “Don’t take anything from the peasants, not even a sweet potato”), because it’s the people, not the land you claim, that keeps you strong.

                  he seems to have conveniently neglected to mention that, as soon as he took power, all the rules about being nice to the peasants were immediately ignored, in favor of abusing the shit out them, for much more than a sweet potato. so much for in-depth analysis.

                • Andrew

                  Not sure if troll or serious.

                  For one thing, the article War Nerd links is from 2009. The Standard Missile-3, designed *specifically* to hit ballistic missiles, is now operational and deployed throughout the fleet. So the sentence may have been right at the time, but it is now wrong.

                  Second, even if he is 100% right about the LTTE, how does that have anything to do with carrier warfare?

                • Robert Farley

                  1. The War Nerd doesn’t understand that, despite the “pop-up” capacity of the Harpoon, it’s not actually a ballistic missile. Ships have been able to defend (imperfectly!) against Harpoon style cruise missiles since the 1970s.

                  2. Terminally guided anti-ship ballistic missiles are a new development; when the War Nerd originally wrote the article, the Navy had not specifically prepared to defeat them. Things have changed in the past several years.

                  3. The LTTE passage is just so hopelessly worthless (including an egregious misunderstanding of Mao) that it’s not even worth engaging.

                • Warren Terra

                  Everything I know about the LTTE is from a casual reading of the newspapers, but even just from that it’s obvious that any discussion of their fall that doesn’t mention the factionalism that led to a major split and a leader siding with the Sri Lankans is sadly lacking – especially as the attempts at totalitarian rule by the LTTE over the territory they controlled (blamed in the passage quoted) were not a recent development. Heck, we’re talking about the folks that may have invented suicide bombing; they weren’t given to half measures.

            • tomsk

              That passage refers to the (old) US Harpoon anti-ship missile and has no relevance to the question of whether or not the Chinese anti-ship ballistic weapons have terminal guidance. In my view a more germane point would be that if the carrier is being harassed by a stream of these things and has to resort to constant evasive manoeuvres to the extent it can’t launch and recover its planes, there’s no point in its presence.

          • Michael H Schneider

            Directing a ballistic missile mid-flight is not impossible

            Uhm, I thought that the definition of a ballistic missile is that its path is, well, ballistic. Meaning controlled solely by ballistics – gravity and inertia and such. Otherwise it’d be a guided missile. Has the terminology been changed without consulting me?

            • Major Kong

              If we’re talking about the Chinese DF-21, it has the capability to maneuver during reentry and in the terminal phase.

              So technically it’s a “semi ballistic” missile.

            • Dave

              Ever heard of a MIRV? You can even get a MaRV: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARV

              • Michael H Schneider

                Well, I followed that link and I didn’t find it particularly enlightening. It said:

                The maneuverable reentry vehicle (abbreviated MARV or MaRV) is a type of ballistic missile warhead capable of shifting targets in flight. Refer to atmospheric reentry.

                So the missile is ballistic, but the re-entry vehicle is guided? That’s not quite the same thing as saying the missile is guided but is still ballistic – but then, I’m easily confused.

                I do remember the MIRV, I even remember when it was introduced – or, at least, when it was made public.

                But there’s a difference, is there not, between a ballistic missile with a targetable (but unpowered) payload and a ballistic missile that can be guided in mid-flight.

                I don’t know – obviously it’s not my area of expertise – but calling something a ballistic missile when its trajectory is not ballistic seems unnecessarily confusing. But then, I guess that longing for the good old days when a guided missile was guided, and a ballistic missile was ballistic, is silly.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  Sorry, Mr. Farley, but you’ve bought into the Raytheon propaganda about the Standard Missile Three:

                  However, the Defense Department’s own test data show that, in combat, the vast majority of “successful” SM-3 experiments would have failed to destroy attacking warheads. The data also show potential adversaries how to defeat both the SM-3 and the GMD systems, which share the same serious flaws that can be readily exploited by adversaries. The long record of tests of the GMD system, and the most recent test in January of this year, shows that it has only been tested in carefully orchestrated scenarios that have been designed to hide fundamental flaws and produce appearances of success. The report provides no material facts or allusions to facts that indicate any technical advances that would counter the long record of orchestrated and dumbed-down missile defense tests.

                  The proof of these flaws is in the data that the Defense Department cites as evidence of the robustness of the GMD and SM-3 systems. That should be a strong warning to policymakers who believe that the missile defense systems promoted in the report will actually discourage future adversaries from pursuing ballistic missile programs.
                  The flight-test data from the 2002-2009 tests show many striking
                  artificialities that would not be present in actual combat conditions. There are not multiple objects in the threat volume, there are large fins on the back end of the target missiles, the target missiles are always side-on to the interceptor, and the exact geometry of the target missile is known. All these factors considerably simplify the interceptors’ job. Yet, in spite of these artificial advantages built into the tests, the Defense Department’s own data show that the interceptors almost always failed to achieve necessary hits on the warheads.

                  These test data show potential adversaries such as Iran and North Korea exactly how to defeat the SM-3 and GMD interceptors with technologies they already have flight-tested. The information also shows that the Defense Department’s own technical oversight and assessment of the missile defense program, as described by the missile defense report, is deeply flawed and unreliable. It is yet another example of why measures need to be taken to provide a truly independent source for the White House and Congress to confirm the veracity of claims being made by the MDA and others in the Defense Department about missile defense performance.

                  Figure 2 shows a very simple countermeasure using rocket technologies that Iran and North Korea have already demonstrated in their ballistic missile flight-test programs. Figure 2A depicts the missile target that has been used in the most recent SM-3 flight tests after flight test FM-7, which occurred in February 2005.

                  By using simple explosive techniques to cut the one-stage rocket-target into multiple pieces, a potential adversary could substantially further increase the chances that an SM-3 or GMD interceptor would miss the warhead. Iran and North Korea successfully demonstrated this cutting technique when they separated the stages in the multistage rockets they have already flown.[8] The same could be done to the upper stage of a multistage rocket to counter the homing of the GMD kill vehicle, creating the same confusion of objects to conceal the true location of the warhead from the GMD system.

                  This is more recent:

                  Current U.S. System ‘Fragile’

                  The report, called “Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives,” is sharply critical of the current 30-interceptor system deployed on the West Coast, which it describes as “fragile” and ineffective against “any but the most primitive attacks.”

                  The system was first deployed in 2004 by President George W. Bush “before its development was complete in order to meet what was considered an urgent need to get a system deployed quickly,” according to the report. The report was referring to the effort to field a system to counter a feared long-range ballistic missile threat from North Korea, which has yet to materialize. Iran, the other potential threat often cited to highlight the need for missile defense, has yet to test a ballistic missile that could reach the United States.

                  The Bush administration withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 to allow for the West Coast deployment. According to the report, the system has cost $34 billion through fiscal year 2009, the last year for which the study cited cost figures. According to the MDA, five of the eight intercept tests that have been conducted since December 2004 have failed, and there have been no successful intercept tests since 2008. The next intercept test is planned for 2013.

                  The report finds the West Coast system’s “shortcomings” so serious that it recommends the technology be completely redesigned, rebuilt, and retested, with a faster two-stage missile booster based on the canceled Kinetic Energy Interceptor program; a heavier interceptor, or “kill vehicle”; and more-capable sensors, including “stacked” X-band AN/TPY-2 radars. The report suggests that the current interceptors, which cost $70 million each to build, could be used as test targets for the new system.

                • Robert Farley

                  So I am to understand that you appreciate that the United States has imperfect means with which to combat Chinese ASBMs, and consequently that the War Nerd is quite wrong in his assessment of the state of the technology? And do you also understand that Standard SM-3 missiles are not the only counter-measure that US ships can employ to defeat terminally guided Chinese ASBMs? And further, do you appreciate that theater ballistic missile defense systems aren’t the same as the West Coast national missile defense system?

                  And do you also now appreciate that Harpoon missiles differ significantly from ballistic missiles in attack profile, despite their “pop up” profile?

                  Because, if you do, it would be great if you could just come out and say that, rather than having to plow through all the War Nerd affiliated nonsense.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  Mr. Farley, I doubt that any ballistic missile defense that is available at the present time has any usefulness at the present time unless one is lucky enough to have Hamas launching missiles at one.

                  And further, do you appreciate that theater ballistic missile defense systems aren’t the same as the West Coast national missile defense system?

                  If you have any data to suggest that theater ballistic missile defense systems are better-equipped or superior to the West Coast one, that would be interesting, but I fail to see how your assertions counter the findings of the Pentagon a mere 3 years ago.

                  Your faith in that failed belief is most heartening, if not reality-based.

                • Robert Farley

                  The hilarious bit is that this…

                  but I fail to see how your assertions counter the findings of the Pentagon a mere 3 years ago.

                  and this…

                  Mr. Farley, please tell us why this quote from the Pentagon that the War Nerd used is wrong:

                  refer to a quote from a United States Naval Institute article, not “the Pentagon.” The United States Naval Institute is a private organization, not affiliated with government. I think that Brecher actually understands that; he never attributes that quote to the Pentagon, although he doesn’t seem to understand the role that the USNI plays. That you, however, seem to think that a short USNI article (which authoritatively cites two of my co-bloggers at Information Dissemination, no less) seem to think that the Pentagon and the USNI are the same tells us much about the degree to which Exiled readers are well-informed about defense issues. Rather illustrates my initial argument that if you’re reading the War Nerd to learn about defense issues, you’re going end up late to the party and wearing the wrong pajamas.

                  With regards to the effectiveness of the SM-3 system, I’ll return to what I wrote in 8/2010:

                  First, yes, if the DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) can be made to work it poses a very serious threat to USN carriers. The USN is very concerned about this, which is one reason it’s working so hard on ship-borne anti-ballistic missile (ABM) technology. The USN is also working on other countermeasures, including strikes on DF-21 launch sites at the onset of war (potentially delivered from SSGNs), and electronic warfare. The latter is particularly important. A carrier-killing ASBM requires terminal guidance; it must revise its flight path after re-entering the atmosphere. From launch to strike, the flight of an ASBM can take fifteen or so minutes, at which time the carrier in question will have moved eight miles. The missile thus needs to be adjusted remotely (presumably from China) or needs to have the capacity to identify the carrier on its own. Both of these processes are subject to electronic disruption. At this point, we really haven’t the faintest idea what would happen if the Chinese launched a salvo of DF-21s (once they become available in sufficient numbers) at a US carrier battle group. Depending on reliability, some percentage would invariably go astray on their own. Some other percentage (and no one is quite sure how big) would be shot down by US escorts. EW would cause some to plunge harmlessly into the ocean. And finally, some might hit a carrier.

                  Read the rest, etc. And kids: If you want to know stuff about war, don’t read the War Nerd. He’s a day late and a dollar short, and the availability of actual defense analysis on the internet (in this case, for example, the USNI blog and Information Dissemination) has rendered his shtick wholly obsolete.

                • wengler

                  All this carrier back and forth is very silly.

                  Just nuke the damn thing and be done with it.

                • Warren Terra

                  Given that this is a ballistic missile we’re talking about, I believe Wengler just said “nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure”

                • The Dark Avenger

                  The USN is very concerned about this, which is one reason it’s working so hard on ship-borne anti-ballistic missile (ABM) technology.

                  And that technology is tested with the same protocols and unreal ‘real-life’ conditions used for the Standard Missile Three tests, correct?

                  And the West Coast defenses may be fragile, but the Navy has it covered when it comes to other ABM technology, and you wrote something about it two years ago, which is probably more true today than it was two years ago.

                  H. L. Mencken was correct, pedagogues are credulous creatures.

        • heckblazer

          You can’t really tell what kind of warhead a ballistic missile is carrying when launched, so some degree of nuclear deterrence likely still applies.

          • The Dark Avenger

            This is from the Naval War College from 2 years ago:


            The U.S. ABM investments just described deserve critical scrutiny: asymmetries in the competition of Chinese ballistic missiles versus U.S. antiballistic missiles make it unlikely that active defense alone will succeed. To see why,we need to review China’s ASBM system threat to ships at sea and China’s short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) threat to U.S. air bases

            Here’s the take-away end of the paper:

            If Chinese ballistic-missile threats to U.S. carriers and air bases evolve along the lines described above, the United States needs to compensate for the shortcomings of active defense.Certain kinds of attacks
            might “thin the herd”of threatening
            missiles; others involve prohibitive risks.

            Passive defense efforts appear more promising, especially in helping carriers survive. Even so, the vulnerability of big-wing aircraft may prove an insoluble problem. If so, destruction of tanker aircraft would reduce the effectiveness of both carrier fighter-bombers and land-based ones.
            In the worst case, a rigorous program of hardware development, changes in peacetime operations, and operational testing might lead the United States to conclude that reinvigorated passive defense cannot adequately offset the inadequacy
            of active defense. Such an outcome would not mean that the future is
            hopeless. It would mean that the United States should consider a broader menu of alternatives. For example, the nation might respond by stepping up efforts to develop very-long-range, stealthy, carrier-based unmanned combat aircraft, as suggested by Thomas Ehrhard and Robert Work. Or it might help Taiwan develop a “porcupine defense,” as suggested by William Murray.That approach might well enable Taiwan to hold out for several months or longer, even if sudden Chinese missile strikes put its air force and navy out of action. The United States might pursue both these alternatives and develop others equally promising.
            Strategy involves weighing costs and benefits. Given the increased costs and risks implied by China’s emerging missile forces, the United States needs to consider more broadly how best to protect its interests in the western Pacific.
            More of the same—active defense—is unlikely to work.

            • Robert Farley

              I’m going to end this by pointing out that you’ve acknowledged all key points; the War Nerd was wrong about the state of technology, he was ignorant of the extant literature on the subject, and that people, if they wanna learn stuff about aircraft carriers, would do better to read and cite the Naval War College Review than ExiledOnline. Along the way you’ve supplied no shortage of howlers; repeatedly misidentifying the quote central to your argument, conflating a Harpoon cruise missile with an ASBM, not understanding the difference between passive and active defense, not understanding the difference between theater and national missile defense, etc. Nevertheless, I’d like to think that through your strategy of assiduous google-then-cut-and-paste, you’ve actually learned something about defense technology and maritime affairs.

              And that, after all, is why we’re here.

    • Leeds man

      Barring nuclear missiles, which only have to detonate in the neighbourhood, I’d have thought great strides would have been made on anti-missile defense since the Falklands War. Back then, the Sea Wolf system had some success when it could be deployed.

      • Nathan of Perth

        Worth pointing out that “in the neighbourhood” for nuclear strikes on naval targets still needs to get pretty close.

    • tomsk

      Recent versions of the Aegis missile defence system are allegedly capable of shooting down some ballistic missiles. They’ve never been used in anger, of course, but nor has this Chinese carrier-killing ballistic wonder that the War Nerd and his fans are so entranced by. He just states without evidence that ‘everyone knows’ that anti-missile missiles don’t work and never will, and carries on as if he’s proven his point. To me this seems like the latest example of the old and tedious habit of presenting whatever the opposition has come up with lately as the one final super-weapon against which there can be no defence. Sunburn missiles were meant to kill all the carriers too; the foxbat interceptor was supposed to fly so fast it could literally travel back in time and kill the enemy pilot’s parents before they’d ever even met, erasing him from history.

  • Alan Tomlinson

    Insert “the problem” between “course” and “that” in the first sentence.


    Alan Tomlinson

    • Johnny Sack

      Good call.


      Johnny Sack

  • Lurker

    I think that the fleet-in-being effect is very important issue here. The Liaoning will require at least one US carrier battle group to baby-sit it in any case. In effect, this ship means that the US Navy needs three more carrier battle groups as a counter-weight. It is a very efficient tool to lure Americans to overspend on defence.

    • Dave

      There goes that vulgar Chomskyism again.

    • Kordo

      Umm, no. Every time that dinosaur of a carrier leaves port, it’s going to have a ghost-quiet American attack sub stapled to it’s ass. I see no point in detailing an entire carrier group to shadow it. Also, too, the US needs to be “lured” into over-spending on defense like I need to be “lured” into Free Lap-Dance Night at the local strip club…

    • wengler

      This carrier won’t be going far from home either way.

  • cpinva

    actually, any ship can be sunk with a well placed torpedo, of which the US has lots of, roaming the oceans inside nuclear powered subs. one and done on a chinese carrier.

    i wonder how many planes crashed on that carrier, before they managed a successful launch/landing?

    • Major Kong

      Submarines work both ways.

      Just sayin’

      • Anonymous

        They do but much like fighters this is an area where the U.S. egregious spending has yielded massive dividends in the highly unlikely event that anyone is stupid enough to try and engage in actual combat.

    • para

      Actually carriers cannot easily be sunk by a single torpedo, unless its n-tipped or you read too much Tom Clancy. Furthermore the Chinese already operate more submarines than the US. There! the whole USN carrier fleet must be obsolete now, as soon as they enter East Asian waters!

      I find these armchair admiral-assessments in response to what represents a remarkable feat (from no carrier aviation and -expertise to an operational ship fielding a capable multirole fighter within 15 years) extremely bizarre.

      Feng at Information Dissemination has a good sum-up on the topic, yet what I see in the comments are cynical and snarky know-it-alls, who seem so frightened by what China is doing these days, that the natural juvenile response can be summed up as “yes, but you still suck”. I was expecting a bit of a more intellectual approach here at LGM, but the general response is little better. Befitting a country on its way out.

      By the way, check out US-casualties from carrier aviation-related accidents. Thats a bit of American exceptionalism you might not like.

      • rea

        Actually carriers cannot easily be sunk by a single torpedo, unless its n-tipped or you read too much Tom Clancy.

        To be fair to Clancy, he never has a carrier sunk by one torpedo–just disabled by a hit on its propellers

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  • seeker6079

    I, for one, welcome our new wet overlords.

    No, off to watch “The Golden Age of Ballooning” to celebrate.

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