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U.S. aircraft carriers vulnerable to China's Russian-made Sizzler missiles

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

China has purchased advanced anti-ship cruise missiles from Russia, posing a major threat to U.S. aircraft carriers and other warships, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific said last week.

“It is of concern to us in the Pacific Command, principally because of People's Liberation Army, navy and air force developments,” said Adm. Tim Keating, the U.S. Pacific Command leader, including area denial weapons and anti- access weapons, like the Russian-made SSN-27 Sizzler missile.

Keating said the Sizzler, which can be fired from submarines and surface ships “is a very sophisticated piece of hardware and we are currently not as capable of defending against that missile as I would like.”

Keating's concerns about China's buildup were echoed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates who last week expressed concerns about the secrecy surrounding China’s large-scale military buildup and continuing double-digit percentage increases in military spending.

Gates told reporters on March 5 that he is concerned with the size of the budgets, the continuing increases and how the money is being spent.

“We've proposed engagement with the Chinese, and a strategic dialogue, so we can have a better understanding of what an 18 percent increase in the budget means and what their strategic modernization programs mean, who they think the enemy is and so on, and for us to provide equivalent information,” Gates said.

He commented following release of the Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military power that stated China’s arms buildup is speeding up and is “scoped” for power projection capabilities beyond a regional conflict over Taiwan.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said he is concerned that official Chinese figures for defense spending do not correspond to the spectrum of military development underway.

“In addition to that 18 percent or the number that's tied to that, is there are other parts of what we consider research and development kinds of investments that are not included in that,” Mullen said. “And it's linking the investments to strategic intent, that's what continues to be of concern, and that's the transparency piece.”

Gates said there is “general agreement” that the announced Chinese military budget is “only a portion of what the Chinese spend.”

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