In recent years, both China and Russia have begun deploying ballistic missiles that were developed with one specific target in mind: America’s massive super carriers. As the most potent means of American force projection, Nimitz and Ford class super carriers provide the U.S. with a platform to launch air strikes from aircraft like the Super Hornet and forthcoming F-35C, serving as the nation’s “big stick” when engaging in diplomatic efforts like the pursuit of North Korean denuclearization.

China’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, in particular, is a hypersonic platform that could easily circumvent the Navy’s existing missile defense apparatus and, provided it was fed with good targeting data, could sink an encroaching aircraft carrier nearly a thousand miles away from Chinese shores. America’s carrier-based aircraft, on the other hand, have an operational range of only about 500 miles – creating a significant capability gap that renders American carriers obsolete in a potential conflict with China.

As a result, the United States has launched a number of initiatives aimed as offsetting this capability gap and reasserting its carriers as the most formidable military presence on the globe.

American Defense Officials are finally taking their concerns about these missiles to lawmakers.

“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,” Mike Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering told Congress earlier this month.

“We, today, do not have systems which can hold them at risk in a corresponding manner, and we don’t have defenses against those systems,” Griffin said, adding that “should they choose to deploy them we would be, today, at a disadvantage.

You can read more about Mike Griffin’s testimony regarding China’s hypersonic anti ship missiles in the story: Defense official to Congress on China’s carrier-killer missiles: ‘We will not see them coming’