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PLA's DF-21D anti-ship missile could beat US countermeasures: report

The Dong-Feng 21D, said to be the People's Liberation Army Navy's supersonic anti-ship ballistic missile, would present difficulties to any US carrier battle group if conflict between China and the United States were ever to break out in the West Pacific, according to the Moscow-based Russian Military Analysis.

The report said the DF-21D is a supersonic ballistic missile with a a top speed of Mach 10 and a range of 1,450 kilometers. It is not easily intercepted by the RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 deployed aboard US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers, said the media outlet. Even if the infrared signature from the D-21D can be detected by the Electro-Optical Targeting System of the F-35 Lightning II, it only gives the carrier battle group an additional eight minutes to react, the report continued.

Russian Military Analysis admitted that the air defense system can be used to intercept high-speed flying objectives, as the USS Lake Erie, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, successfully destroyed malfunctioning spy satellite USA-193 with a RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 about 247 km above the Pacific in 2008; however, the report also noted that Lake Erie had an abundance of information regarding the trajectory of the satellite.

Lacking sufficient knowledge about the launch point of the missile, the only way to defeat the DF-21D is through electronic countermeasures which would allow the United States Navy a chance to evade the attack by changing the ballistic trajectory of the missile. There remains no other way for a US aircraft carrier to defend itself from an attack by the DF-21D, the report said.

Like the US Army's MGM-31 Pershing II two-stage medium-range ballistic missile used during the Cold War, the DF-21D is said to be able to be directed at its target through satellite navigation systems such as GPS and Beidou. For this reason, the accuracy of the Chinese ballistic missile has been said to have gradually increased. A single DF-21D missile is able to sink one modern surface combat vessel, Russian Military Analysis said.

Another weakness the DF-21D may have is that its ability to hit a target within a 50-100 km range remains unknown. Nonetheless, Russian Military Analysis indicated that the US carrier battle group could potentially be hit if they were detected at a range of 1,000 km or even 1,500 km away from the Chinese coast.

[Source: WantChina Times, Taiwan, 13Dec13]

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