China has based its new anti-ship Dong Feng-21D (DF-21D) “carrier killer” missiles along the coast facing Taiwan, US Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn said in testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee.
Flynn said that Beijing was enhancing the firepower of the more than 1,200 conventional short-range ballistic missiles deployed opposite Taiwan with a limited, but growing, number of conventionally armed, medium-range ballistic missiles, including the DF-21D.
“China is developing a tiered ballistic missile defense system and has successfully tested the upper-tier capability on two occasions,” he said.
Flynn said that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was building a modern military capable of defending China’s “core interests” of protecting territorial integrity, including Taiwan.
“Preparation for a Taiwan conflict with US intervention remains the primary driver of the PLA’s evolving force structure, weapons development, operational planning and training,” Flynn said, adding that “China has spent as much as US$215 billion on military-related goods and services in 2012, in contrast to the US$107 billion Beijing reported in its official military budget.”
“Even as the Chinese military plans for conflict and continues its build-up across from Taiwan, cross-strait relations have remained good following President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election,” he added.
Flynn said the PLA Navy was also developing a JIN-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine and JL-2 submarine-launched missiles.
He said that China’s investment in naval weapons is focused primarily on anti-air and anti-surface capabilities to achieve periodic and local sea and air superiority.
Flynn said that the Chinese air force was transforming from a force oriented solely toward territorial defense into one capable of both offshore offensive and defensive roles, including strike, air and missile defense, as well as early warning and reconnaissance.
While Flynn did not say why China had deployed the new “carrier-killer” missiles opposite Taiwan, Pentagon sources said it was a clear warning to the US to stay well clear of the area in case of a conflict.
However, a report published earlier this month by Ronald O’Rourke, the Congressional Research Service’s specialist in naval affairs, said the missile could be defeated with a combination of active and passive measures along its “kill chain.”
O’Rourke said the US Navy could reduce the aircraft carrier electromagnetic emissions used by the missile and even release false emissions to fool it. In addition, the US Navy could disable the missile’s targeting systems, destroy it in flight or use decoys to confuse it as it approached its target, he added.