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Navy Leaders Temper China Rhetoric

by Kris Osborn on May 8, 2013

130416-N-AC887-003U.S. Navy leaders told lawmakers they are “vigilant,” but not necessarily “worried” about the Chinese military build-up in the Pacific.

“We need to pay attention and understand their intent, and challenge them on their intent,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert told the House Appropriations’ Defense Subcommittee.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., asked Navy and Marine Corps leaders about a recent Pentagon report citing Chinese military investments, deployments and acquisitions.

“China is building two new classes of missile submarines in addition to the eight nuclear missile submarines and six attack submarines that are being deployed as part of a build up that an analyst says put Beijing on a war footing,” Frelinghuysen said. “We constantly have this challenge where the Chinese are out there in force – presenting access issues.”

In addition, Frelinghuysen cited a recent briefing from David Helby, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, which discussed Chinese deployments of an aircraft carrier equipped with two new stealth jet fighters and a new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.

Frelinghuysen also mentioned a particular deployment of Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles near Taiwan.

“You represent the tip of the spear in the Western Pacific. Where do you think the Chinese are going relative to these systems?” he asked Greenert.

The CNO responded saying one does not immediately need or wish to cast China in an adversarial light, adding that the Chinese are slated to substantially participate in a U.S.-led, multi-national exercise called “Rim of the Pacific” in the summer of 2014.

“We have an opportunity to work together and we are working in that direction. It doesn’t have to be adversarial,” said Greenert.

Greenert did add, however, that ballistic missile success hinges upon a range of factors and calculations, such as tracking, sensing..and other nuances.

“To do such a thing you have to have a sensor. You have to recognize what you are targeting, that it is a ship. Then you have to have a tracking solution and be able to launch and adjust after launch,” he told the subcommittee.

“At that point you can spoof it, you can jam it and you can try to shoot it down. As it gets closer you can put a wall of lead up,” Greenert added.

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