Thursday, January 6, 2011

Underestimating China

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the observation that China was 5-10 years away from fielding a stealth fighter prototype. Then China unveils its new J20 stealth fighter. Vice Adm. Dorsett (chief of Naval intelligence) observed that the observed that the US is adept at underestimating China's ability to field prototypes. Give that bit of introspection, I find the following to be incredulous:

China has an operational carrier-killer ballistic missile much sooner than expected, said Navy intelligence chief Vice Adm. David Dorsett Wednesday. "I am concerned about the DF-21B ballistic missile," Dorsett told defense reporters in Washington, D.C. The missile, if fired in salvos of "several" at a time, could find and destroy a "maneuvering target" at long range, he said. He's not worried about it yet, for while the missile has been tested over land "a sufficient number of times" to prove it works, and has been fielded, it has never been demonstrated—"to our knowledge"—operationally over water, using real-world naval sensors and targets, he explained. Whether it could really sink a US aircraft carrier, "we don't know, and frankly, I'm guessing they don't know," said Dorsett. He admitted that, a year ago, the Navy believed "no one had a maneuvering capability" in a ballistic missile. That assessment has now changed, he said.

I for one am note betting that the DF-21B won't be able to strike the fleet.

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