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China destroys USS Gerald Ford in wargame simulation meant to scare US forces

 May 28, 2023

Beijing researchers are claiming they have successfully simulated the sinking of the world's largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford. This claim emerges amidst escalating tension with the United States over the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty.

According to a paper published in the Chinese-language Journal of Test and Management Technology, the war game simulation used 24 hypersonic anti-ship missiles to take down a large ship, as reported by the Daily Mail.

The South China Morning Post carries the original report, showing China's determination to demonstrate its military capabilities. The accuracy of this report could not be confirmed independently.

Hypersonic Anti-Ship Missiles in the War Game

The Chinese researchers developed a three-wave attack over 20 simulated battles intended to overpower the USS Gerald R. Ford's advanced defense systems. The carrier was allegedly destroyed despite being armed with high-tech detection systems, layered armor, and protective mechanisms against missile attacks. This claim, if accurate, indicates that the carrier's advanced defenses could be surpassed.

The report states that hypersonic missiles were launched as far away as the Gobi Desert during the operation, Telegraph reported. According to the report, the aftermath saw nearly every U.S. surface vessel destroyed and sunk. The researchers from China maintain this showcases the carrier fleet's vulnerability to a limited number of hypersonic strikes.

Caution and Skepticism Surround the Report

The report calls for a careful interpretation of the simulation's results. This is echoed by former U.S. senior defense official Drew Thompson, who has expressed skepticism over China's decision to make the war game findings public. Thompson advises that war games are tools for learning and testing assumptions rather than a measure of victory or defeat.

Thompson said that publicizing the outcome of a war game or simulation usually serves a political purpose, especially if it is framed as a win or a loss. The researchers from China argue that being transparent about their military capabilities could reduce misunderstandings and, as a result, lower the risk of conflict.

Amidst Cybersecurity Threats and Missile Developments

The simulation claim comes at the same time as Microsoft's disclosure about a state-sponsored Chinese hacker group, “Volt Typhoon,” believed to be targeting “critical” U.S. infrastructure, including Guam.

This action has heightened concerns about Beijing potentially incapacitating U.S. communications ahead of a possible assault on Taiwan. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) confirmed that China initiated the breach affecting multiple government and private sector organizations.

A leaked Pentagon document also showed China had successfully tested a new missile, DF-27. This hypersonic intermediate-range ballistic missile is said to have a high chance of breaking through U.S. ballistic missile defenses.

It was also revealed that the Chinese military, the People's Liberation Army, had deployed versions of the missile capable of striking land and sea targets.

The Significance of DF-27

The DF-27 missile is fitted with a hypersonic glide vehicle, designed to fly more than five times the speed of sound, and can maneuver mid-flight, making them almost impossible to intercept. According to the leaked document, the DF-27 flew for 12 minutes, covering 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles), but its range far exceeds this, reaching up to 8,000 kilometers.

The extensive range of the DF-27 suggests it can strike any target in East or Southeast Asia and significant parts of the Pacific, including Guam. The Pentagon's annual Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China, suggests even the U.S. mainland is within its reach.

The design of the DF-27 aims to increase China's ability to target areas beyond the Second Island Chain, carrying a high chance of penetrating U.S. ballistic missile defense.

China's Growing Hypersonic Missile Capabilities

China's ambitions in hypersonic missile technology and other advanced areas have caused global concerns, particularly as Beijing asserts its claims over regions in the South China Sea, East China Sea, and along its disputed border with India. Hypersonic missiles, capable of traveling over five times the speed of sound in the upper atmosphere, represent a significant strategic asset.

The U.S., Russia, and North Korea are also reportedly developing hypersonic missiles, indicating the shifting power dynamics in contemporary warfare. In its 2023 budget, the Pentagon requested $4.7 billion to research and develop hypersonic weapons, underlining its strategic importance and urgency.

The Pentagon's plan includes deploying a hypersonic missile battery next year, a sea-based missile by 2025, and an air-based cruise missile by 2027. These developments reflect the changing landscape of global defense strategy and the increasing emphasis on advanced missile technology.