Beijing: China is moving closer to
deploying a ballistic missile designed to sink an aircraft
carrier, the commander of the US Pacific Command said in
newspaper interview published on Tuesday.
Adm. Robert Willard told Japan`s Asahi Shimbun
newspaper that he believed the Chinese anti-ship ballistic
missile program had achieved "initial operational capability,"
meaning that a workable design had been settled on and was
being further developed.
Known among defense analysts as a "carrier killer,"
the Dong Feng 21D missile would be a game-changer in the Asian
security environment, where US Navy aircraft carrier battle
groups have ruled the waves since the end of World War II.
The DF 21D`s uniqueness is in its ability to hit a
powerfully defended moving target with pinpoint precision _ a
capability US naval planners are scrambling to deal with.
The system`s component parts have likely been
designed and tested, but US sources have not detected an
over-water test to see how well it can target a moving ship,
Years of tests are probably still needed before the
missile can be fully deployed, he said. The system requires
state-of-the-art guidance systems, and some experts believe it
will take China a decade or so to field a reliable threat.
The missile is considered a key component of
China`s strategy of denying US planes and ships access to
waters off its coast. The strategy includes overlapping layers
of air defense systems, naval assets such as submarines, and
advanced ballistic missile systems all woven together with a
network of satellites.