|A Chinese Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM)|
By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.
WASHINGTON: A Chinese surprise attack tomorrow could annihilate US forces and bases in Japan, two Navy officers found. But deploying more missile defenses — Army THAAD and Navy Aegis — would protect most targets north of Okinawa, Commanders Thomas Shugart and Javier Gonzalez found in simulations. Such a stronger defense, in turn, would reduce the temptation for Beijing to strike first in a crisis.
This scenario isn’t implausible. Chinese history and doctrine since 1949 show a marked preference for surprise attack. They struck Korea in 1950, India in 1962, Vietnam in 1974 and ’79. The Chinese usually justify their attacks as a defensive response to actions that threaten their sovereignty or vital interests. But those vital interests are defined very broadly — e.g. Beijing’s claim to the entire South China Sea — and armed force is seen as a legitimate response to purely political, non-violent provocations.
The temptation to preempt would be particularly great in a crisis with the United States. If the Americans have fair warning, they can get their planes in the air and their ships out to sea, with their defensive systems turned on. However, a massive surprise attack by land-based ballistic missiles followed up by cruise missiles and airstrikes could cripple aircraft on the ground and ships in harbor, where they’re sitting ducks. Such a massive conventional strike is the primary purpose of China’s Rocket Force, formerly the Second Artillery, which was made an independent armed service in 2016. Commercial satellite imagery of Chinese missile test ranges near the Gobi Desert show they’ve fired test shots at mock-ups of airfields and life-sized outlines of ships, positioned in the same configuration as the US Navy piers in Yokosuka, Shugart and Gonzalez told the Center for a New American Security conference today.
Read the full story at Breaking Defense