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June 8, 2012

US Frightens China with Stealth Destroyer

The US builds "the most advanced" warship, Zumwalt-class destroyer DDG-1000 dubbed by Pentagon as "super-stealth silver bullet". The ship will be capable to move along the coast including shallow waters, hit enemy targets by electromagnetic rail guns and deceive enemy radars.

Such "sci-fi" ships are to be stationed primarily in Asian-Pacific region. It is shores of China frightening with its growing military power where Pentagon intends to redeploy 60% of its naval forces by 2020 under America's new military strategy.

New destroyers are built in Maine; the first one is to be launched in 2014, reports Associated Press. When visiting the shipyard in April, US Chief of Naval Operations ADM Jonathan Greenert praised up those ships saying they would be the Navy's hope in the future. Among main advantages of the project, Greenert named 'invisibility', incredible striking power, advanced sonar system, and halved crew strength.

Announcing changes in US military strategy at security conference in Singapore, American defense minister Leon Panetta said that new high-tech ships would make the core of US Navy's Pacific Fleet.

Although the new destroyers could be useful in other regions too, for instance, in the Persian Gulf, the military say they would be most advantageous in Asia. The point is that the new vessels will be capable to operate both in exterritorial waters and along seashores. There are plenty of island states in Asia, and China also has long coastline in the Pacific.

Washington concerns over China actively modernizing its naval force. In particular, China works on reliable aircraft carriers, missiles and submarines which could deny access of American ships into strategic sea lanes next to Chinese territory. Pentagon believes that Beijing will hinder Americans to interfere in conflicts over disputable zone in the South China Sea or to cooperate with Taiwan that China considers own territory.

Currently, the US enjoys great advantage in high seas, but after modernization of its fleet China will be stronger in shallow green waters. New American stealth destroyers are meant to cope with this problem.

However, the Chinese are by no means afraid of fantastic "silver bullets". Although they have not officially commented the America's plans, one of Chinese admirals appeared on local TV with derisive tone saying that all rumors about invincibility of the new destroyers were nothing but flackery, and any hi-tech American warship can be easily scuppered by a simple fishing boat loaded with explosives.

There are lots of criticism and skepticism in the US too, even though they are mostly nervous of the budget spending size. Construction of one DDG-1000 destroyer costs the country about $3.1 bln which is almost twice as much as one present-day destroyer costs. If one considers research and development costs, the price of one destroyer grows up to $7 bln.

According to critics, this project simply sucks out budget money while it would be better to finance modernization of available naval assets. Many security experts suspect that designers are too hung up on fictional "technologies of the future".

These destroyers bring back the story of notorious fifth-generation stealth fighter F-22 Raptor. It was zealously trumped up as the most advanced airplane ever designed, but as was recently found out, it is a kind of dangerous even to pilots. But the reason for the project shutting-up was too high price. Its successor, F-22 fighter was recognized the most expensive project in the Pentagon history.

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