The most alarming weapon China is developing to deny the U.S. Navy access to the East and South China seas is the antiship ballistic missile—the first such missile able to change course to hit a moving aircraft carrier. Mounted on a mobile launch vehicle, an ASBM would rise in two stages, reach space and then use fins to maneuver at hypersonic speeds on its way back down. The warhead then glides along a level path to permit synthetic aperture radar, which processes multiple radar pulses to form a single picture to target the carrier. Finally, the warhead's infrared seeker locates a carrier's signature and closes in for the kill.
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