The United States has not significantly changed its naval doctrine to confront China in decades, relying upon aircraft carriers to project force. China has spent the last 20 years developing weapons systems to negate this advantage. With the U.S. distracted by the war in Ukraine, China is about to launch its third aircraft carrier, which will allow it to project even more force and directly confront the United States on the seas.
On the weapons front, the most direct threat to our aircraft carriers are China’s hypersonic missiles. The U.S. navy does not have a countermeasure for them, and the Chinese can fire them from thousands of miles away.
The DF-17 missile can travel past Mach 5 toward its target. It is of major concern to the U.S. Navy, but it is not the only missile in China’s arsenal.
The Dongfeng-21D missile is listed as specifically designed to be a carrier killer. It can be launched from up to 900 miles away. It is known as an area denial weapon.
Once the weapons platform is deployed, U.S. carrier groups will be hesitant to travel through waters covered by the missile’s range. In this way, China can shape the battlespace to its advantage in any future conflict.
Then there is the size of China’s navy itself. It is the largest in the world with 121 surface ships, 56 submarines, and 341 coastal patrol ships. The sheer size of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) navy, coupled with its area denial weapons and hypersonic missiles allows China to directly challenge U.S. naval supremacy in the world’s oceans.
In the short term, this may make military action by China more likely. As its fear of the U.S. navy diminishes, the CCP may make its move on Taiwan. The island nation has always been viewed as a renegade province by the Chinese government.
The CCP has spent the last 20 years building weapons systems to go head-to-head with the U.S. navy. That time may be fast approaching, and we may lose that battle unless we start to take the CCP threat seriously.