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Would China Really Sink a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier? They Have Made That Threat.

US Navy Aircraft Carrier
PACIFIC OCEAN (April 29, 2021) Two F/A-18 Super Hornets assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), April 29, 2021. The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment conducting routine operations in U.S. 3rd Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erik Melgar) 210429-N-XX200-4059

Over the past five-plus years, there is no question that tensions between the United States and China have been rapidly rising.

A major source of contention has been over the South and East China Seas, and China has hinted that it would not shy away from sinking U.S. Navy aircraft carriers if it is forced to.

10,000 Casualties

In fact, Luo Yuan, deputy chief of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences and a military commentator who backs China’s invasion of Taiwan, told an audience at a Chinese military-industrial conference on 2019 that China could mollify disputes in the South and East China Seas by destroying two U.S. aircraft carriers, which would likely kill roughly ten thousand Americans.

“What the United States fears the most is taking casualties,” he said. “We’ll see how frightened America is.”

Regarding Taiwan, Luo had previously contended that an invasion of Taiwan was necessary if the U.S. Navy uses the island as a strategic naval base.

“If the U.S. naval fleet dares to stop in Taiwan, it is time for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to deploy troops to promote national unity on the island,” he said.

In recent months, new reports out of the Asia-Pacific region are indicating that China is, in fact, busy preparing for a potential escalation of military activity in the Taiwan Strait. In March, ten PLA aircraft, including fighter jets and reconnaissance planes, flew sorties into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, surrounding it on three sides.

One senior Taiwanese defense official was quoted as saying that the military exercise indeed featured an “offensive posture.”

The Chinese military was “continuing to increase its combat preparedness by making its routine exercises more complex and realistic and taking possible U.S. and Japanese interventions into consideration,” the Chinese government’s newspaper Global Times reported.

In yet another sign of escalation in the contested region, President Joe Biden’s administration in the spring brushed off a new warning from China that demanded that it adjust its policy toward Taiwan. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been quoted as saying that Washington needs to make genuine efforts to curtail what he termed the former President Donald Trump administration’s “dangerous practice” of overtly displaying support for Taiwan, adding that Beijing absolutely has “no room for compromise” on the matter.

Ballistic Missiles

China’s military has already shown its capability to launch anti-ship ballistic missiles into the South China Sea.

“These mid-range, anti-ship ballistic missiles are capable of attacking aircraft carriers in the western Pacific,” Adm. Phil Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Their employment during a large-scale PLA exercise demonstrates the PLA’s focus on countering any potential third-party intervention during a regional crisis,” he added.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Written By

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Tony

    July 20, 2021 at 8:11 am

    This makes the hearts of American liberals soar – they love China.

  2. Pete Orsi

    July 20, 2021 at 8:53 am

    IMHO, carriers are vulnerable to swarms of low-cost, high-tech stealth weapons. You don’t have to sink the boat, make a hole in the deck and it is useless.

  3. Brad Mueller

    July 20, 2021 at 10:02 am

    The short answer? Yes. China realizes that 70% of the worlds commerce goes through the S.China Sea. Control that and you control 70% of the worlds economy. The US is there to make sure that those sea lanes are open to everyone.

  4. Nelson

    July 20, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    The control freak, power mad, cheating Dominionrat termites in America are perfectly fine with Biden’s owners in the CCP sinking US warships so their pal Xi can invade an independent functioning democracy that refuses to toe the communist line. The good news is the liberal termite mounds in the US are going to be vaporized first thing after China attacks the US Navy in the SCS for trying to defend Taiwan. It ain’t much, but it is something.

  5. Stefan Stackhouse

    July 20, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    If Hawaii were to declare its “independence” and another country should send its aircraft carriers to its defense, does anyone seriously think that we would not sink those? We would do it in a heartbeat, and no hesitation whatsoever.

    Would China do this to our carriers in a Taiwan/SCS conflict? They certainly would try, if they can. It is utter folly to assume otherwise.

    This is literally on the other side of the globe. We have interests in that part of the world, but not existential interests. Our policies and actions need to be guided by calm and wise people who think carefully.

  6. John Cox

    July 20, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    The article somewhat makes the potential sinking of a US aircraft carrier a singular, almost out-of-the-blue event. And currently, it seems, unlikely for the simple reason there don’t seem to be any US carriers in the Asia-Pacific theater: Reagan is on the way to civer the Afghanistan withdrawal; Nimitz has (I believe returned home to San Diego and is scheduled for 2025 decommissioning; and Roosevelt has relocated to Bremerton for overdue maintenance and F-35 upgrades. At this rate, the Chinese won’t HAVE to destroy a US carrier….

    Having said that, the author David Poyer (a former naval officer) has been writing a series of novels that creat a compelling, chilling and all-too-plausible account of a war between China and the US. At one point, not long after the war’s start, a US carrier task force is steaming toward Taiwan to reinforce naval forces there. The Chinese use a nuclear-armed ballistic missile to wipe out the task force; the US doesn’t escalate, in part because China has demonstrated it has a hitherto-unknown powerful MIRV ballistic missile capacity that threatens the entire continental US.

    The point is that China is far more likely to attack the carriers as part of a calibrated, incremental warfighting strategy rather than the opening gambit in general conflict that has no firewalls between opening shots and nuclear conflagration. I personally have no doubt that sinking the US carriers is as important to them as it was to the Japanese in 1941.

  7. Christian J. Chuba

    July 20, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    It sounded like they said, ‘we will attack any U.S. warship that stops in Taiwan’ or ‘we will attack any U.S. warship if we try to build a naval base in Taiwan’

    So you guys want to roll the dice and figure out if they mean it?

    BTW the U.S. has no interest in preserving ‘freedom of navigation’ in the South China Sea. True ‘70% of trade goes through it’ but it is between China and the rest of the world. We want to keep China at bay. If China controlled it completely the only two countries that would be at any risk of being isolated are Taiwan and S. Korea, not ‘70% of all commerce’ and that would kick off a global trade embargo against China.

  8. Brian Foley

    July 20, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    Another moronic, idiotic discussion about a hypothetical scenario. Logically, any attack on a US Carrier Group by China would lead to a larger scale fight in which China would take a horrible beating at the hands of the Americans. The PLAN can not afford to take that beating. The US win some and lose some and yet the country carries on somehow. China on the other hand can not afford politically, socially economically, diplomatically and militarily to lose a war. The US knows losing control of the Maritime routes through the South China Sea would be economically devastating, not immediately but in the longer sense absolutely moving the US to a second tier status in world power eventually. China knows the US isn’t going to let that happen without a fight…but if they wait long enough, they will eventually find the perfect time to strike. China doesn’t believe the time is right just yet, so there’s no serious risk that China will attack a US Carrier Group anytime soon.

  9. Jim Higgins

    July 20, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    Sinking even one carrier should call for a nuclear response on China.

  10. Mark Edward Levin

    July 20, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    Carriers are rapidly becoming nothing more than vulnerable mass casualty targets tha are relics of the past, at least as far as future war with more advanced nations goes. What happens when a carrier battle group faces a swarm of 2,500 high speed kamikaze drones that can think and attack on their own initiative?

    For a future effective navy, we’d probably be better off with lots of small, inexpensive, hard to find, missile boats which won’t be as bad a loss when they get destroyed, possibly with autonomous capability, or perhaps a lot of intelligent autonomous drone subs capable of closing the distance with the enemy and launching hypersonic cruise missiles, mass producted at low cost.

    I hope we don’t have to lose a major war before we reform our cumbersome military industrial complex.

    Its time to stop overpaying for weapons systems that are technologically two generations behind by the time they are fielded, stop the pork of spreading production through congressional districts all over the country, put an end to the insane Pentagon procurement boondoggle.

  11. Constance

    July 20, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    That would be akin to a Pearl Harbor loss and so the end result of China would be the same as it was for Japan.

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