When one reads enough Chinese naval literature, diagrams of multi-axial cruise missile saturation attacks against aircraft carrier groups may begin to seem normal. However, one particular graphic from the October 2015 issue (p. 32) of the naval journal Naval & Merchant Ships [舰船知识] stands out as both unusual and singularly disturbing. It purports to map the impact of a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strike by twenty nuclear-armed rockets against the United States.
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Brooks B. Patton Jr.
Since the inception of the first purpose-built aircraft carrier nearly 100 years ago, few other types of naval warship have been so polarizing. Aircraft carriers are often viewed in the United States as the impervious capital ships of the modern fleet and are capable of bringing terrible firepower to bear. Often hulking, these naval platforms typically require escorts and the support of their embarked air wing. During World War II, carriers saw extensive combat, delivering waves of aircraft to the Pacific theater. Their flexible nature as an airfield at sea lends to their role as the eyes of the fleet. This also makes them capable modern nuclear strike platforms.