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An anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) is a quasiballistic missile, of medium or intermediate range, designed to hit a ship at sea. Currently, there are no ship-board defense mechanisms that can counter an ASBM.[1] A single hit from an ASBM has the potential to cripple or destroy outright a supercarrier.

Unlike a typical ballistic missile, which follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath after the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight, an ASBM requires, it seems, some kind of terminal guidance system to home in on its target.

China has developed the world's only anti-ship ballistic missile. It has successfully developed and tested the DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile, with a range of up to 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) or more, in 2005, according to the US Department of Defense. It is estimated to have reached initial operating capability in 2007 or 2008. It is though that it is still in an evolutionary process as more UAV and satellites are added.[2] The DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile is expected to enter active service by 2009.[3][4]

The United States Navy has responded by switching its focus from a close blockade force of shallow water vessels to return to building deep water ballistic defense destroyers.[5]

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