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Home / World / Chinese and Russian weapons threaten U.S. aircraft carrier superiority

Chinese and Russian weapons threaten U.S. aircraft carrier superiority



  • For decades, the US Navy aircraft carrier has been a dominant force in the world’s oceans.
  • However, Russia and China are seen as the United States’ main competitors in the next two years, and they are working hard to develop new weapons that may threaten this advantage.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In August, China launched two ballistic missiles. According to a Chinese military expert, they hit a moving target ship in the South China Sea thousands of miles away from the launch site.

If it is true, this test is the first long-term U.S. confirmation of China. This test is one month after the U.S. deployed two aircraft carrier strike teams to the area, and a U-2 spy plane observed the Chinese Navy. The second day of the live ammunition exercise. Anti-ship ballistic missiles against moving targets.

According to reports, Wang Xiangsui, a former Chinese colonel and professor at Beihang University in Beijing, said when talking about the deployment: “We did this because of their provocation.”

; He called the test a “warning to the United States.”

Not to be outdone, the Russian Navy conducted the third Zircon hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile test launch in the White Sea in December. The missile was launched from the frigate, reached a speed of Mach 8, and then hit a “coastal target” 200 miles away.

These tests are only the latest signs that the US aircraft carrier, long regarded as the king of the seas, may soon face a real threat to its survival.

High priority goal

aircraft carrier

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and other U.S. Navy ships during an exercise with the Indian Navy in 2012.

U.S. Navy photos



American airlines have always been one of competitors’ biggest targets. The Soviets publicly condemned aircraft carriers as “oppressors of the national liberation movement,” but they admitted that they were the main weapon platform.

This was especially true after they realized that the United States’ carrier wings include aircraft carrying nuclear payloads.

The declassified CIA documents show that by the 1980s, the Soviet Union seldom criticized aircraft carriers in internal discussions and even praised them for providing “high combat effectiveness.” A 1979 document pointed out that in potential war situations, aircraft carriers will become “the highest priority for anti-ship attacks,” and amphibious assault ships may follow.

The plan to deal with aircraft carriers is almost entirely based on anti-ship cruise missiles launched from submarines, bombers and surface ships, ideally all at once. For this reason, the Soviet Navy emphasized cruise missile technology and missile carrying capabilities on all ships and even on its own aircraft carrier.

Russian Soviet Minsk aircraft carrier

The Kiev-class aircraft carrier of the Soviet Navy, Minsk, February 9, 1983.

U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sergeant Glenn Lindsay


The Soviet Navy’s Tu-16, Tu-95 and Tu-22 bombers were the main air transportation system. Kynda, Kresta, Slava and nuclear-powered Kirov-class cruisers are the main ground carrier platforms.

A large number of nuclear-powered and diesel-powered submarines, such as the Oscar II class and Juliet special class, will launch these missiles from underwater and surface.

But even this may not be enough. The Soviets believed that the US aircraft carrier defense and air wings were so powerful that as many as 100 bombers would be sent to attack an aircraft carrier, and the loss could be as high as 50%. The Soviet pilots did not even get a detailed flight route for return.

People were also worried that missiles might be shot down or intercepted, so the Soviet Union concluded that many missiles must be equipped with nuclear warheads.

Decline of operator’s dominant position

Naval Aircraft Carrier Nimitz

The USS Nimitz departs from the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego on June 8, 2020.

US Navy/MCS Class 2 Natalie Byers


With the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the hegemony of the US aircraft carrier seems to have become more secure. Since the 1990s, these carriers have played a key role in conflicts involving the United States.

But the post-Cold War order is slowly being challenged-mainly due to the rapid growth of China’s military power, which has an impact on the dominance of aircraft carriers.

American Airlines is one of Beijing’s biggest concerns. Their presence helped prevent the invasion of Taiwan in the 1950s. In 1996, two aircraft carrier battle groups moved freely in Taiwan during a period of increased tension, embarrassing China and forcing Beijing to recognize US military power.

Since then, China has invested heavily in anti-aircraft carrier capabilities. It first purchased a large number of weapons from Russia, including Su-30MKK multi-role fighters, 12 Kilo-class attack submarines and 4 Sovremenny-class guided guided missile destroyers.

Chinese military DF-26 ballistic missile Tiananmen

At the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the DF-26 ballistic missile at the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, September 3, 2015.

Huang Dehua/Swimming pool through REUTERS


But missiles have always been China’s main focus. It accumulates one of the world’s largest and most advanced missile arsenals, 95% of which are outside the scope of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prohibits the United States and Russia from using missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,100 miles. The United States recently withdrew from the treaty, while China has never joined the treaty.

The two missiles tested in August are variants of the DF-21 and DF-26, which have ranges of up to 1,300 miles and 2,400 miles, respectively.

China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles fly faster, farther, and farther than Soviet cruise missiles, which may overwhelm the anti-missile defense capabilities of the aircraft carrier and its frigates, and force the aircraft carrier to maintain a sufficient distance to disable its air wings. .

A report released by the US Department of Defense this year pointed out that China’s missile development is an area where Beijing “achieves or even surpasses the United States.”

New threat

Russian navy frigate zircon hypersonic missile SS-N-33

On October 7, 2020, Russian frigate Admiral Groshkov launched a zircon hypersonic cruise missile in the White Sea in northern Russia.

The Russian Defense Ministry News Agency passed AP


Hypersonic missiles are another serious threat.

Hypersonic missiles can fly at speeds exceeding Mach 5 (over 3,800 mph), which is too fast for anti-missile defense systems to respond effectively. They can also change directions in flight, making it almost impossible to intercept them.

China has two types of hypersonic weapons in service: DF-17 and DF-100. Russia is developing a variety of hypersonic weapons, of which zircon is the most promising. Russian officials said they hope to be able to arm all new ships of the Russian Navy with hypersonic weapons.

British officials have expressed concern that Russian hypersonic weapons may pose a threat to its aircraft carrier.

A senior British navy source told the “Daily Mirror”: “Superman missiles are almost impossible to stop.” “If there is no way to protect themselves from missiles like zircon, the aircraft carrier will have to stay hundreds of miles away at sea. “

The source said: “The aircraft will be useless, and the entire foundation of the carrier task force will be redundant.”

The true capabilities of Russia and China’s new anti-ship weapons are still unknown, but recent tests have shown that the US Navy’s carrier may no longer enjoy an unquestionable dominance.


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