Sunday, April 5, 2009

On Charlie's Blog

There's recently been a rather interesting discussion at Charlie (Stross's) blog (you can see it featured in my list) regarding the latest report of a Chinese carrier-killing weapon based on an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

I'm rather dubious on the report. Ballistic missiles aren't exactly an ideal weapon for going after mobile targets of any size, and in any case, we get plenty of questionable reports about Chinese military capabilities, which almost always overshoot the mark. (Over at the Space Review, Dwayne Day's been doing a good job of pointing out the gaping holes in the overblown image of Chinese military power so often fed us, as these have related to the country's space capabilities.)

Nonetheless, even if this story seems unlikely, the reading of the implications is basically right: the technological trend is continuing to run in favor of the missile, and against major weapons systems like carriers, throwing the decision to invest in them-as Britain is doing in the new Queen Elizabeth class "super carriers" (admittedly closer to the De Gaulle or the Kuznetsov than the Nimitz in design despite the label)-ever more questionable.

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