Both the United States and Chinese navies are beefing up their weapons arsenals to avoid being outgunned if their great power competition turns hot.
China is believed to be fielding advanced anti-ship ballistic missiles, including the Dong Feng-26 with a maximum range of about 2,160 nautical miles, said Ronald O'Rourke, a naval specialist at the Congressional Research Service.
"Observers have expressed strong concerns about China's ASBMs, because such missiles--in combination with broad-area maritime surveillance and targeting systems--would permit China to attack aircraft carriers, other U.S. Navy ships, or ships of allied or partner navies operating in the Western Pacific," he said in a recent CRS report tided, "China's Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities--Background and Issues for Congress."
The U.S. Navy has not previously faced a threat from highly accurate ballistic missiles capable of hitting moving ships at sea, he noted.
Beijing's military also has an extensive inventory of anti-ship cruise missiles including some advanced ones such as the YJ-18.
"The relatively long ranges of certain Chinese ASCMs have led to concerns among some observers that the U.S. Navy is not moving quickly enough to arm U.S. Navy surface ships with similarly ranged ASCMs," O'Rourke said.
The Navy is pursuing new munitions of its own, including Block 5 Tomahawks, a modified Standard Missile-6, the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile and the Naval Strike Missile. The Defense Department recently announced that it has fielded a low-yield, submarine-launched ballistic missile nuclear warhead, the W76-2, on its boomers.
Other next-generation weapons, such as directed energy, are headed to the fleet.
"Lasers are here to stay," said Rear Adm. Doug Small, program executive...