operating in the region. A key element of China’s investment
in A2/AD capabilities is the development and deployment of
large numbers of highly accurate antiship cruise missiles and
land-based antiship ballistic missiles. If these systems were
employed in salvos, simultaneously launched in
different directions from land, air and sea, they
could saturate CSG defenses and cause major
damage to multiple platforms, including the
aircraft carrier. In that case, the best U.S. defense
would be the integrated and coordinated use of
electronic warfare (EW), such as jammers.
The Chinese can be expected to deliver
lethal, multiaxis saturation strikes against the
CSGs from ranges greater than 1,000 miles.
China has multiple and varied missiles that
can fly from subsonic speeds up to Mach 5
( 2,300 mph), with small radar signatures and
low-altitude flight profiles. These cruise missiles would strain and possibly penetrate CSG
Chinese officials understand that they cannot keep pace
with the United States in the development and deployment
of naval platforms, but they also understand that cruise missiles can be produced or imported cheaply, enabling them
to acquire large quantities and potentially overwhelm CSG
defenses. China has made known its desire to take out U.S.
aircraft carriers with antiship missiles. The CSS- 5 (DF- 21)
“carrier killer” antiship ballistic missile was developed for
exactly that purpose.
While U.S. CSG ships can defeat threats with electronic
attack capabilities, what they cannot do is effectively coordinate the electronic attack capabilities of each ship to
provide integrated protection of the CSG as a whole. Even
though Navy ships are deployed as integrated strike groups,
their defensive EW capabilities still are developed, updated
and implemented as individual platforms. For example,
the Navy continues to update separately the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP), the Ship
Self-Defense System and the U.S.-Australian decoy system
known as Nulka.
In a threat environment, the SEWIP actually could be detrimental to other ships in a local operating area. The SEWIP
does not coordinate its jamming or deception systems with
other ships in the area. This lack of coordination could redirect inbound threats to other friendly units nearby and has
led to tragedies such as the sinking of Britain’s Atlantic Conveyor during the Falklands War in 1982.
The inability to coordinate and integrate EW among platforms is a major weakness in the CSG’s defensive capabilities.
A CSG deploys with seven to nine ships, and one of the primary missions is the protection of the CSG as an integrated
unit, yet its EW systems are unable to accomplish this, leaving it vulnerable to attack.
The CSG does not have a viable EW system of systems.
With only their individual platform defensive capabilities,
the CSGs may not survive a swarming, multiaxis antiship
missile attack. To defeat today’s advanced threats, naval
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Located in the strategic shipping lanes of
the South China Sea, the Spratly Islands are
potentially rich in natural resources, leading
China to reassert claim over the disputed territory.