After years of speculation, China officially showed off its Dongfeng-21D “carrier killer” missile at a massive military parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War 2. The missile has the capabilities to change the balance of power in favor of China in the western Pacific. Before Dongfeng-21D made its appearance on Thursday, the missile was only briefly mentioned in 2011 that it was in the works.
DF-21D costs a fraction of an aircraft carrier
Western military experts estimate that it has a range of about 1,000 miles. The land-based intermediate-range missile can travel up to 10 times faster than the speed of sound, making it almost impossible to intercept. DF-21D would be launched into orbit, and it manoeuvres on to a target upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. That means it could land a large warhead on or near a moving warship.
What gives China a real advantage is that it costs only a fraction of an aircraft carrier. Beijing could build as many as 1,200 DF-21D missiles for the price of a single aircraft carrier. Notably, aircraft carriers form the backbone of the U.S. naval strategy. And missiles like DF-21D threaten to consign aircraft carriers to the dustbin, defense experts told the Financial Times.
China threatens U.S. maritime supremacy
Ashley Townshend, a research fellow at the University of Sydney, said this missile could encroach on Washington’s capability “to deploy military power close to Chinese shores.” Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit the U.S. later this month. Dongfeng-21D is a stern reminder to the U.S. that its undisputed maritime supremacy is under threat.
James Char of the Nanyang University in Singapore said that DF-21D serves as a deterrent that would require enemies to think twice before deploying aircraft carriers against China. However, some still doubt its capabilities as the missile has never been tested under the full range of countermeasures that an advanced aircraft carrier could deploy.
The missile may be almost impossible to intercept and bring down. But it relies on a lot of sensors, satellites, radar, and other equipment to lock on a target. And these systems would be much easier to attack.