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Xi Jinping’s window of opportunity against the US Navy is closing


Jun 19, 2014
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The US Navy is finally hanging its best ship-killer missiles on its best fighter jet. The long-delayed combination could make a huge difference if China ever makes good on decades of threats and launches an invasion of Taiwan.

In a Nov. 13 solicitation, the US Navy announced its intention to pay defense firm Lockheed Martin to integrate four new munitions on the navy’s Lockheed-made F-35C tailhook stealth fighters. The munitions include two long-range cruise missiles and two short-range precision missiles.

It’s the cruise missiles that really matter in a possible air and sea campaign defending Taiwan from a Chinese invasion fleet. Pentagon planners are largely counting on two types of weapons to sink the Chinese fleet and save democratic Taiwan from authoritarian takeover.

The US Navy’s fleet of around 50 nuclear-powered attack submarines should inflict much of the damage. Sortieing from Guam, Wake Island or Japan each with dozens of 1.5-ton Mark 48 torpedoes plus Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles, each sub should be able to sink a Chinese warship every day, according to a recent series of wargames simulating a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

But the subs could run out of weapons quickly, and would then need time to sail back to a friendly port to rearm. Such ports would potentially be vulnerable to counterattack by China’s own long-ranging missiles.

The subs need help … from the air, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Washington think tank which ran the wargames.

“Given the high carrying capacity and rapid rearm times of aircraft, bombers and fighters equipped with long-range anti-ship missiles provide the most potent threat to Chinese shipping,” CSIS says.

The US Air Force is nearly ready to do its part in such an apocalyptic battle. Each of its 150 B-1, B-2 and B-52 heavy bombers can carry a dozen or more long-range anti-ship missiles on missions from existing American bases in Diego Garcia and Guam. And the USAF bomber fleet is about to get a massive upgrade in the form of new Northrop Grumman-made B-21 stealth bombers, possibly the stealthiest aircraft ever made.

The problem, for the US Navy, is that its own best warplanes – its radar-evading F-35Cs – have been flying from the fleet’s aircraft carriers for years, unable to carry a long-range anti-ship missile. The US Navy’s goal is for each of nine carrier air wings to have at least 14 of the single-engine, single-seat supersonic jets, each of which can haul tons of weapons 500 miles or more from its carrier.

But to sink a ship right now, an F-35C would have to approach within bomb range of its target: 70 miles in the case of a winged glide-bomb. That means flying within the lethal radius of the Chinese fleet’s best air-defense missiles, which can hit aircraft as far as 150 miles away. In the war game, “Chinese air defenses were initially so formidable that no aircraft could get close enough to drop short-range munitions,” CSIS concluded. “Even stealth aircraft were at risk.”

To join missile-armed US Air Force bombers in attacking the Chinese fleet, the US Navy’s F-35C squadrons need access to the same far-flying missiles that arm the bombers: the 500-mile-range Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, which travels between 230 and 500 miles, depending on the model.

Lockheed, which manufactures both 2,000-pound missiles, will integrate them onto the F-35C by tweaking the jet’s software and testing the munitions’ fit under its wing. The US Navy has opted for the shorter-range version of the JASSM but, importantly, is handling the upgrades that allow the $1.5-million missile – which normally only strikes land targets – to also target ships at sea, like the LRASM already does.

The point is, the F-35C is about to get long-range, ship-sinking missiles that will finally make the $100-million stealth fighter not only relevant in a war with China, but potentially decisive in that war.

The US Navy’s other fighter jet, the F-18, can already carry up to four LRASMs. A majority of the fleet’s fighter force will still be F-18s well into the future, but the ability to launch the stealthy long-haul missiles from F-35Cs which are also stealthy – and which have significantly better range – will be important, especially in the early stages of any conflict.

Now America needs to focus on building up its missile inventory. CSIS concluded US forces would need to fire at least 5,000 cruise missiles to defeat a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Ultimately, the Pentagon aims to acquire 10,000 JASSMs and variants. But CSIS projected the inventory would include just over 6,000 missiles by 2026, leaving little room for error if the Chinese make their move soon.

Xi Jinping’s window in which to act against Taiwan – if it truly exists at all, given China’s economic problems – would appear to be closing.

Since when has China had any window "open"? From Trump's trade war to Biden's chip war, which one wasn't closing some windows? :lol:
good to see philiphines got the obsolete tomahawks that cant do anything against russian made A2AD everywhere in the world , even syriad upgraded S200 AD shot down all tomahawks from USN / UK / FR ships during the illegal attack on syrian bases.

US have nothing to counter china's advanced weapons , this is why they told the media to push out another nonsense feel good propaganda article , but in reality it just showed how weak US cards really is.

and it is always the indian posters with american flags in PDF that posted US propaganda here
Didn't you post throughout the years Chinese economy had crushed? No worry about windows closing or remaining open. Just start the war.

Oh, wait. The Pentagon, Congress, Biden or Trump, the whole F*ckn United States of Sanctions and Genocides determined they'll lose badly if they ever come near China's turf to play games.
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