Friday, November 28, 2008

If the PLA Wants War, They'll Get It

If the Chinese try to capture Taiwan, I could see us fighting a defensive war without attacking Chinese positions on the mainland. With our aircraft carriers in the fight, this might be not be too much of a handicap.

The Chinese can't match our carriers and are desperate to find a way to sink them that doesn't involve building a navy capable of fighting us in a conventional fight. They think they may have a short cut:

China appears to be developing an over-the-horizon (OTH) radar that can spot large ships (like American aircraft carriers) as far as 3,000 kilometers away, and use this information to guide ballistic missiles to the area,. Such radars have long been used to detect ballistic missile launches, and approaching heavy bombers. Some OTH radars have been modified to take advantage of the flat surface of an ocean, to pick up large objects, like ships. Cheaper and more powerful computers enable such OTH radars to more accurately identify ships thousands of kilometers away.

Missiles that can detect the target when close have long been possible. The problem for China has been figuring out the general area to fire the missiles so the missile's homing system can take over.

We could shoot some down. We could use electronic warfare against them. Hopefully we'd get all of them.

But I guarantee that if the Chinese fire missiles at our carriers from Chinese soil using radars based on Chinese soil, we will recognize no territorial sanctuaries. Our carriers are major national assets. If attacked from Chinese soil, American planes and missiles will hammer Chinese missile sites, radar sites, and airfields in China even if they are in the suburbs of Peking.

The Chinese may think they might have found a clever way to target our carriers. That may or may not work. But it will mean that we will target those assets inside China. That is not clever, in my view.