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28 CSBA | TOWARD A NEW OFFSET STRATEGY

The maturation and proliferation of “anti-navy” reconnaissancestrike networks over the coming decades will make it increasingly risky for the United States to operate large surface combatants, including aircraft carriers, within several hundred miles of an adversary’s coast.

identifiable, and trackable within a few hundred or a few thousand miles offshore of anyone willing to make the effort to do so.” 55 The precision-strike portion of “anti-navy” networks being developed and fielded by prospective adversaries include advanced torpedoes; air-, sea-, and ground-launched anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs); and in the case of China and Iran, anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). China’s operational ASBM with a reach exceeding 1,500 km, referred to as the DF-21D, gives “the PLA the capability to attack large ships, including aircraft carriers, in the Western Pacific.”56 According to some experts, the PLA may endeavor to extend its ASBM reach out to 3,000 km by the end of its “12th Five-Year Plan” in 2015.57 Iran is working on an ASBM-variant of the Fateh-110 missile, dubbed the Khalij Fars, with an estimated range of 300 km and an EO/IR terminal seeker.58 Taking advantage of the dramatic growth in computational power and data processing capability over the past two decades, prospective adversaries are also fielding “fire-and-forget” weapons (e.g., advanced ASCMs and wake-homing torpedoes) that can compensate for targeting inaccuracy and be successfully employed by relatively low-skilled personnel. The maturation and proliferation of “anti-navy” reconnaissance-strike networks over the coming decades will make it increasingly risky for the United States to operate large surface combatants, including aircraft carriers, within several hundred miles of an adversary’s coast. In the Western Pacific and South China Sea, this stand-off distance could exceed 1,500 miles within a decade, which is about 500 miles greater than the range of Tomahawk land-attack missile (TLAM) and roughly three times the unrefueled combat radius of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet multirole fighter. Early on in future campaigns, when an adversary’s anti-navy network is likely to be at or near full operational readiness, U.S. guided-missile destroyers (DDGs) and cruisers (CGs) will be at risk if and when they close to within effective TLAM range. Similarly, if aircraft carriers honor the anti-navy threat posed by ASBMs, embarked fighters will require multiple air-to-air refueling cycles during both the ingress and egress from designated target areas.

55

Norman Friedman, “The U.S. Navy of 2030,” Defense, Spring 2012.

56 OSD, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2013, pp. 5–6; and Ronald O’Rourke, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities, RL33153 (Washington, DC: CRS, February 2014), pp. 5–6. 57

Amy Chang and John Dotson, Indigenous Weapons Development in China’s Military Modernization, Staff Research Report (Washington, DC: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, April 5, 2012), p. 23; and Mark Stokes, China’s Evolving Conventional Strategic Strike Capability, p. 2.

58

Jeremy Binnie, “Iran Rolls Out Ballistic Missiles,” IHS Jane’s Defence, March 6, 2014.

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