Chinese hypersonic missiles ‘can destroy newest US aircraft carrier’

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China’s hypersonic weapons could destroy the US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier in a recent war game, Chinese scientists have claimed.

Computer simulations run by a research team on a war game software platform used by China’s military showed Chinese forces sinking the USS Gerald R Ford carrier fleet with a volley of 24 hypersonic anti-ship missiles, reported the South China Morning Post.

It said the results of the hypersonic strikes had been made public for the first time, in a paper published in May by the Chinese-language Journal of Test and Management Technology.

Military planners often used computer-generated battle scenarios to game out strategies but experts warn they cannot be overly relied upon in real-life conflict where terrain, weather and other unforeseen factors can disrupt weaponry.

The scenario was based on an attack on US vessels that proceeded towards an island claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea. Researchers said some of the missiles in the three-wave attack were fired from as far away as the Gobi Desert.

The report could not be independently verified. Analysts also cast doubt on the motivation for its release.

“Anyone who discusses publicly the outcome of a war game or simulation has a political objective, especially if they frame the result as a win or a loss,” said Drew Thompson, a former senior US defence official, now based at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

“Effective war games are ones that test an assumption, a function, or variable to inform the sponsor of the game about the complex interaction of elements,” he said. “War games are not about winning or losing.  They are about learning.”

Diplomatic confrontations over the resource rich waterway have escalated in recent years amid overlapping territorial claims between Beijing and other regional nations.

As China extends its reach, claiming and militarising islands, reefs and rocks, the US Navy has stepped up its own freedom of navigation patrols.

Alongside the build-up of its naval capabilities, China has also been developing its missile arsenal at a rapid pace, including hypersonic technology.

According to a leak of a top-secret report by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence directorate in February, the Chinese military had three days earlier successfully tested a new hypersonic intermediate-range ballistic missile called the DF-27.

The document said the DF-27 possessed a high probability of being able to evade US ballistic missile defence and was designed to boost Beijing’s ability to strike large parts of the Pacific, including the US territory of Guam, which hosts a strategic military base.

It also revealed that last year, China deployed versions of the new missile that can attack land targets and ships, and that the DF-27 has greater potential as a “carrier killer” than its predecessors.

In the latest war game, researchers from the North University of China concluded that almost every US surface vessel was shattered by the hypersonic attack and eventually sank.

[Top image:Soldiers protect the USS Gerald R. Ford as it makes its way to Norway on Wednesday – Reuters© Reuters]

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