Chicom supersonic missiles a threat to US ships
Increased interactions between the the Chinese and U.S. navy in the contested South China Sea risk becoming more complicated by the increasingly sophisticated missiles being carried by submarines.Obama has largely squandered the advantages the US had from the build up in the Reagan years. The US needs a crash program in weapons to counter the Chicom threat which both real and serious. It will probably take more hunter killer subs to track the Chicom undersea fleet and development of launch phase missiles to counter the threat of the supersonic missiles.
A new report to the U.S. Congress assessing a Chinese submarine-launched missile known as the YJ-18 highlights the danger, noting the missile accelerates to supersonic speed just before hitting its target, making it harder for a crew to defend their ship.
Defense chiefs from several countries in Southeast Asia have warned in recent months of the danger of undersea “clutter” as countries build up submarine fleets and the U.S. challenges China over its claim to a large swath of the South China Sea. This week’s U.S. patrol inside the 12-nautical mile zone that China claims around its man-made islands in the waters saw the USS Lassen shadowed by two Chinese naval vessels.
The YJ-18 missile can cruise at about 600 miles an hour, or just under the speed of sound, only a few meters above the surface of the sea and then, about 20 nautical miles from its target, accelerate to as much as three times the speed of sound, according to an Oct. 28 report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
“The supersonic speed makes it harder to hit with on-board guns,” according to commission Chairman Larry Wortzel. “It also makes it a faster target for radars.”
The YJ-18’s speed and long range, as well as its wide deployment “could have serious implications for the ability of U.S. Navy surface ships to operate freely in the Western Pacific” in the event of a conflict, the commission found.