Tuesday, March 11, 2008


One of the problems the Chinese have in hitting our carriers is spotting them and tracking them long enough to shoot at them. Just having long-range, carrier-killing missiles isn't enough.

While some think that Chinese ballistic missiles could blanket an area of sea with chemicals large enough to hit the carrier wherever it moves after being located, I've worried whether the Chinese might slip a homing device onto a carrier among the many electronic products that a carrier uses or that sailors bring on board.

This does not make me feel better about my worry, discussing computer chip vulnerability:

A computer chip built with a subtle error might allow an identity-theft ring to hack past the encryption used to connect customers with their banks. Flash memory hidden inside a corporation's networked printers could save an image file of every document it printed, then send out the information. In a disturbing national-security scenario, overseas agents might be able to hard-wire instructions to bring down a Department of Defense system on a predetermined date or in response to an external trigger. In the time it took to bring the systems back online, a military assault could be underway.

Could the Chinese slip something into our carrier systems that would function as a homing beacon for a missile attack, eliminating the need to deploy surveillance and targeting systems for tracking our carriers at sea? What if a compromised chip could make a silent-running carrier emit in every frequency by just turning equipment on? The Chinese would only need to know the general area of a carrier and shoot blind, counting on the carrier itself to bring the missiles home. Shoot, just infect every iPod sold to make sure sailors take them on board a carrier and put emitters in them.

Granted, this might not last too long in a war once we are aware of the vulnerability, but the Chinese would only have to hit one of our carriers--not even sink it--at the start of a fight over Taiwan in order to scare us into backing off long enough for China to capture Taiwan.