Remember those pesky anti-ship ballistic missiles, like China's DF-21D "carrier killer," that everyone worries will be able to keep American ships at bay -- a threat so serious that some say it renders the aircraft carrier obsolete? Well, the U.S. Navy isn't as worried as it used to be thanks to some help from the 17-member Intelligence Community (IC).
"In 2008, [then-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead] sent a message to the director of national intelligence saying, these anti-ship ballistic missiles are becoming [a problem]. The proliferation and the technology is pushing these things' [range] out farther and farther and really impacting our ability to get in close" to an enemy's shores, said Vice Admiral Kendall Card, director of naval intelligence, during a conference in Arlington, Va., today.
As a result of this message, "there was a concerted effort across the IC -- I probably can't tell you which organizations did what to make that happen -- but I can tell you that we in fact have some pretty terrific answers [for how to defeat the threat posed by anti-ship missiles] from all that effort, and we're making gains every day from CIA, NGA, NSA -- all the people putting all the pieces together to, in fact, make that happen and develop solutions" for a host of anti-ship missiles, ranging from the DF-21D to the YJ-12 cruise missile, he said.
As would be expected, the Navy's top spy didn't reveal anything about these "solutions." They could range from identifying the missiles' launch sites, allowing them to be picked off, to figuring out the best ways to spoof their guidance systems or shoot them down using ballistic missile defense ships. Who knows.
Long-range anti-ship ballistic missiles like the DF-21D are part of the reason that the Navy teamed up with the Air Force to devise the so-called Air-Sea Battle concept, which is aimed at figuring out how the two services can defeat an adversary armed with weapons meant to keep U.S. forces far from its borders.
Here's what Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told yours truly about Air-Sea Battle last September:
It's an organizing concept, if you will, for how to marry air and maritime power in a way that helps us address contested environments where threat capabilities have grown in a fashion that can endanger or threaten global commons. I think it just brings into sharper focus, at the operational level, those [areas] in which the Navy and the Air Force have common issues -- airspace management, for example, missile defense kind of issues, ISR issues, common weapons that the Air Force and the Navy have developed for many years, electronic warfare -- all these areas that are pertinent to how one operates in a contested environment are very pertinent to Air Force-Navy cooperation to our joint development of not only technologies but operational concepts which develop synergies between the air and maritime domains.
[Air Sea battle is] all about sort of identifying opportunities for collaboration in that world and to get the best thinking on both sides of this equation.