US Defense Secretary Gates has warned that US aircraft carriers are vulnerable to new weapons being developed by enemy nations, and he questioned the wisdom of investing so much money in such costly weapons systems as aircraft carriers (see first link below). Specifically he said “We know other nations are working on asymmetric ways to thwart the reach and striking power of the US battle fleet,” and he cited cruise and ballistic missiles as two such specific threats.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I’ve been warning about this danger for a long time (years, I suppose). I warned in early blogs at this website that the Russian-built “sizzler” supersonic cruise missile was a direct threat to US aircraft carriers because US carrier defensive systems were originally designed to counter subsonic cruise missiles. Previous blogs have also documented that Chinese submarines have been equipped with these Russian supersonic cruise missiles, and that each Chinese submarine, warship (or even a merchant ship—see my May 10, 2010 blog) with these supersonic cruise missiles poses an existential threat to US carriers. If Iran has also been given these supersonic cruise missiles (Russia, China and Iran are allies just as Ezekiel 38 prophesied they would be at the end of our age), then a Persian Gulf War will reveal whether the US can defend its carriers from supersonic cruise missiles. Previous blogs have also warned that China is building ICBMs (ballistic missiles) that are designed specifically to be targeted at US carriers to sink them. In an all-out war (which is what Ezekiel 38 reveals is coming at the very end of our age), it must be assumed that ICBMs launched at US carriers will have nuclear warheads so the US has to have defensive systems that can shoot down such missiles long before they reach a carrier. Recent blogs on US laser weapons and the American X-37B project (involving space-based weapons) reveals two ways the USA is trying to protect its carriers. The X-37B project raises the possibility that the US intends to station interceptors in space to shoot down Russian and Chinese ICBMs as they reach the edge of space at the apogee of their trajectory.

Thankfully, Sec. Gates’ statement indicates that he is at least aware of the problem. The vulnerability of aircraft carriers to attacks by new weaponry may be the reason why cash-rich China is investing in ways to kill aircraft carriers rather than build them. There are many in China (and around the world) who think US carriers can be sunk in the next war. In the second link, notice the first comment on this “China Daily” forum which expresses the hostility of China toward the US and its determination to sink US carriers with these new missiles. That comment even hints that such supersonic missiles can even be launched from small Iranian speedboats in the Persian Gulf. The link is also valuable for listing and depicting various subsonic and supersonic cruise missiles that are currently deployed in the Pacific Rim, and which can be fired at US carriers and other warships. Notice that there are a variety of supersonic cruise missiles already developed; the Russian “sizzler” is just one of many supersonic cruise missiles. Several types can go twice the speed of sound and one approaches Mach 3 capability.

Keep in mind that submarines are safe from these cruise missiles (which can’t fly underwater). Maybe China “has seen the future” of naval warfare, and that is why it is investing heavily in submarines, not aircraft carriers.