Note: I’m re-posting this entry because it deserves renewed attention as the great power competition with China and Russia heats up and as these countries continue to emphasize investments in sophisticated and lethal anti-access/area denial systems aimed at constricting US and allied forces’ freedom of operation in the maritime and aerial commons.
Gabe Collins, “Time to Put China’s Rocketeers On Notice,” The National Interest, 8 February 2017.
Speed kills. This simple but powerful concept applies in spades to strike assets—particularly when speed and lethality can be obtained at sufficiently low costs to be deployed at scale. Consider, for instance, China’s intensive investment in ballistic missiles as part of its ongoing anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy aimed at restricting U.S. forces’ capacity to operate and project power along the country’s maritime periphery during a potential conflict.
The current crop of U.S. precision-strike platforms, especially those with the standoff range to cope with an increasingly deadly People’s Liberation Army integrated air-defense system, tend to be expensive or launched by scarce and expensive aircraft and fly slowly. To blunt China’s growing asymmetric advantage and retain strategic credibility with regional allies, U.S. forces need a prompt regional strike capability that is reliable, cost-effective and legal. Modernizing and improving the MGM-31 Pershing II medium-range ballistic missile design and deploying it at sea would fulfill all three requirements.