For months now, the U.S. Navy has been scrambling to find ways to increase the operational range of the aircraft employed on American Ford and Nimitz class supercarriers. Despite the variety of programs underway, the catalyst for each has been the same: the threat posed by advanced anti-ship ballistic missiles being fielded by national level competitors like China.
The problem presented by these anti-ship platforms is simple: with an operational range that exceeds that of our aircraft, they hypersonic platforms could sink even America’s massive carriers with a single strike, making it impossible to put the nation’s most potent means of force projection anywhere near the fight in the event a conflict were ever to break out between U.S. and Chinese forces.
Now, Mike Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, has taken his concerns about this capability gap directly to lawmakers, delivering a series of statements that have been characterized as “troubling admissions” in some outlets. Of course, Griffin’s observations are indeed troubling, but the Navy has made little effort to keep these concerns a secret. It’s more appropriate, perhaps, to call Griffin’s Congressional testimony a call to action after the American people and its lawmakers have failed to recognize how serious a threat these anti-ship missiles pose to U.S. foreign policy.
“China has fielded or can field … hypersonic delivery systems for conventional prompt strike than can reach out thousands of kilometers from the Chinese shore, and hold our carrier battle groups or our forward deployed forces … at risk,” he said.