Fireworks in blogosphere: DF-21 missile

My first post this year was on anti-ship ballistic missiles and motivated by an article in the January issue of DTI (Defense Technology International). The article merely scratched on the topic, though.
My interest is more focused on the Russian short range missile Iskander because that's simply more relevant for Europe. I mentioned the potential of such missiles against warships back in May 2008.

Some other blogs wrote about the topic in January as well. There was also some previous activity in 2008.

2008-02-21 Huanqiu(?)
"???" (Chinese blog)

2008-06-24 Defense Tech
"China Close to Anti-Ship BM"

2009-01 Defense Technology International
article (Journal)

2009-01-03 Defence and Freedom
Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles

2009-01-14 The Canberra Times
"China's missile plans put US naval power in a weaker spot" (newspaper)

2009-01-14 New Wars
"Why the Navy Embraces ABM Defense"

Then: Again months of silence.

Yet, in the past few days I observed a firework of blogging on this topic, specifically on the Chinese DF-21 missile (C or D version). The ballistic missile threat (which is quite obviously looming for many years and the reason for the long interest in ATBM (anti tactical ballistic missiles) in wealthy navies!

2009-03-30 USNI Blog
"Risk Averse Political Policy Requires High End Focus"

2009-03-30 New Wars
"End of the Surface Fleet as We know It"

2009-03-31 Danger Room
"China May Turn Missiles into Carrier-Killers"

2009-04-01 Information Dissemination
"PLAN ASBM Development"

2009-04-01 Military.com
"New Concerns Over Chinese 'Carrier-Killer'"

2009-04-01 DefenseTech
"CHICOM Carrier Killer"

2009-04-01 Naval Open Source Intelligence
"Chinese develop new Dongfeng 21 anti-ship variant"

2009-04-02 Murdoc Online
"Report: Chinese Develop Special “Kill Weapon” to Destroy U.S. Aircraft Carriers"

- - - - -

The missile in question is the C or D version of the DF-21. Its range is - depending on source - something like 1,700 to 2,000 km.
A combination of this missile and space-based sensors could engage a carrier task force at grater distance than the task force's combat aircraft effective mission radius.

My interest in this is merely of technical nature; I don't consider mainland China as a threat and I don't believe that Europe's maritime defence depends on surface warships. Land targets are already vulnerable to cruise missiles and thus not more threatened than without accurate ballistic missiles.

Again; I wonder why the NATO navies don't push this threat into the public in order to build support for their ATBM programs.
Maybe the democratic control of Western navies is lax enough that they can build expensive defences against threats that almost nobody knows about?

By the way; a high-ranking U.S. officer has recently told experts to forget about ABM. Ballistic missiles are outdated.
He's right, we need to defend against maneuvering hypersonic missiles that descend from the sky instead. That's a very different target.
Everyone should erase "Scud" from his memory and look at modern missiles like DF-21C and Iskander (see here and here) instead.

Sven Ortmann

I grew curious why the China Defense Blog didn't write about this.
I asked google and google remembered a year 2006 post on that blog, it quoted Jane's:

China develops anti-ship missile

By Ted Parsons JDW Correspondent
Virginia, US

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is in the advanced stages of developing a revolutionary anti-ship ballistic missile to supplement its well known Ying-Ji family of anti-ship cruise missiles.

The development programme has been confirmed by both US government and Asian military sources, with the latter estimating that the PLA may be able to deploy the space targeting systems needed to make its anti-ship ballistic missile operational by 2009.

PLA efforts to provide terminal guidance capabilities to both its 600 km-range DF-15 (CSS-6) short-range ballistic missile and DF-21 (CSS-5) medium-range ballistic missile with a range of 2,150 km, or 2,500 km for the DF-21A (CSS-5 Mod 2), have been known since the mid-1990s. The existence of a terminally guided DF-21C has long been reported. Asian military sources said that the PLA will be using a version of the DF-21 for its ballistic anti-ship missions.

However, the PLA would need to make substantial advances in missile guidance and countermeasures in order to achieve the very high precision required to attack a moving target. To do so, the US Office of Naval Intelligence noted: "The current TBM force would be modified by changing some to the current missiles' re-entry vehicles to manoeuvring re-entry vehicles with radar or infra-red seekers to provide the accuracy needed to attack ships at sea."

1 comment:

  1. Sven, the Washington Times also reported on this last July:


    As did New Wars a little later: