Are the United States and China set on a collision course that ends in war? White House advisor Stephen Bannon thinks so. While neither country openly wants war, both sides are preparing for the worst case scenario. War on the Rocks has an intriguing set of satellite images that indicate that preparations on the Chinese side are farther along—and more specific—that anyone previously believed.
The United States maintains an extensive network of bases in the Asia-Pacific region. Much of the network is a holdover from World War II, preserved through the Cold War, and still in place today. Naval bases such as Yokosuka and and Sasebo, and air bases such as Yokota, Kadena, and Osan protect America’s allies while projecting American power into the region. Some of America’s most advanced military equipment, from F-22 Raptors to B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers to a full carrier battle group are deployed in an arc stretching from South Korea to Guam.
China sees those bases as a threat—and it’s not necessarily wrong. The great distances between the continental United States and China mean the U.S. military will need those bases to prosecute any war between the two countries. According to WotR, China is actively practicing hitting those bases with long-range ballistic and cruise missiles.
For decades, China’s main means of power projection was in the form of ballistic missiles, and large numbers of them. Ballistic missiles—placed under the command of what is now the People’s Liberation Army-Rocket Forces—are an inexpensive and efficient way of delivering warheads long distances. They’re cheaper than aircraft carriers, or long-range bombers, but can still pack a considerable punch. Modern guidance systems, even those not using GPS, can target with precision. The DF-21D intermediate-range ballistic missile, for example, can hit moving aircraft carriers at sea. Read More…