Forbes provides a reminder
Image Analysis of photo of Chinese shipyard showing multiple warships at various stages of … [+]H I Sutton, with permission from @Loongnaval, (This is not a naval base just one of several shipyards-Chuck)
of the rate at which the Chinese Navy is overtaking the US Navy.
We did discuss this earlier, “Comparison, the Chinese Navy of 2030 and USN.”
The Chinese have begun building large surface combatants (destroyers and/or cruisers) at rate faster than that of the US (The US generally commissions two per year). The number the Chinese are expected to have commissioned in 2019 and 2020, as many as twelve, is staggering. Their first very large aircraft carrier equipped with catapults and arresting gear is expected to be commissioned in 2022, only three years after their first (smaller) domestically built aircraft carrier (The US builds one every five years). They seem to have begun building large amphibious warfare landing ships at about the same rate as the US. In addition they have built types with no counterpart in the US Navy including 60 Type 022 missile armed fast attack craft and Type 056 corvettes, 64 ordered to date, with about 8 built per year. They also have about 60 conventionally powered submarines and about 54 frigates while the US has neither type currently.
If you would like to look into this in more detail. I would suggest the following Congressional Research Service Report.
“Table I, Numbers of Certain Types of Ships Since 2005,” on page 20 is particularly illustrative. You can see the trend with total number of Chinese vessels growing while the number of USN ships has remained relatively stable. It notes that the number of Chinese ships does not include auxiliary and support ships while the USN figure does not include patrol craft (the number given for 2015 actually does include the 13 Cyclone class patrol craft). If we counted the USN ships in the same way the Chinese ships are counted, by subtracting auxiliaries and support ships, and adding in the 13 Cyclone class Patrol Craft, the numbers for 2019 would be China 335, USN approximately 239. It is also worth noting that the Chinese fleet is younger than the US Navy fleet.
The US Navy is still larger in terms of both personnel and tonnage and has an overwhelming advantage in aircraft. The USN still has far more carriers (11 of which 5 are more than 30 years old), nuclear submarines, and destroyers and cruisers. But here, as elsewhere, the trend is against the US. (The number of USN nuclear submarines is actually expected to decline, but should exceed those of the Chinese Navy for the foreseeable future.)
Thus far the Chinese have succeeded in creating a situation where the USN operating inside the “First Island Chain” during hostilities would be exceedingly difficult. They clearly intend to have a local superiority. It the imbalance in ship construction continues they may achieve an absolute superiority.
They have now begun creating a Blue Water Navy with the capability to intervene virtually anywhere, following the USN model. This will give them the option of insuring that all those preditory loans they have been making are repaid or the collateral handed over.
China ultimately plans to bring Taiwan back into the fold, by force if necessary, but ferrying the necessary number of troops would be a herculean task, not unlike the Normandy invasion. The force of 38 large amphibious warfare ships that has, for many years, been the US Marine Corps stated objective, would have lifted only two brigades, not the multiple divisions that would likely be required to take Taiwan. Their large Coast Guard (248 ships according to the CRS report and growing) and maritime militia is as likely to be as instrumental in any invasion as the large amphibs they are currently building.
The Chinese Industrial Complex and the PLANavy have been on America’s and NATO’s radar for decades and should come as no surprise to National Security interests. The fact that the Chinese have adapted are well documented in these reports for decades (if Congress and the Pentagon reads them).
The USN and USMC seem transfixed with mundane routines. For years, even decades, there has been a call to up-arm or redesign certain ships, but the lack of adaption by the West has not occurred. We have no Arsenal Ships, nor innovative processes to counter the PLAN, and with the possibility of allying with Russia, that would make a formidable Red Force.
Quantity and “good enough quality” might win the day similar to numbers of WW2 “good enough” Shermans against the more highly-complex and technical German Panthers and Tiger tanks. Already wargame simulations are being run that predict a lost to China, not even a stalemate. Obviously, the South China Seas is in China’s front yard.
The USA had good military advancing ideas, but they never really acted upon them (as evident in Trade Shows’ weaponry that the Pentagon didn’t buy). Instead, China did (First Island Chain and expansion into South America and Africa with an expanding Blue Water Navy). The failed revolts and rebellions have failed to change governments and their ways. If there is a Chinese and/or Russian strategy, then it seems to be working as a barrier and encroachment into the West. Already, our lifestyle has changed with Chinese and foreign products.
Even the PLAN ship-per-ship VLS cell count is more with a PLAN ship fielding more than 122 cells than on our aging Ticonderoga cruisers. Their longer-ranged and faster missiles along with their tactical ballistic missiles are enough to keep the USN and USAF at bay.
Obviously, these articles present all sorts of problems without solutions. I suppose that is the classified area not publicized by the Pentagon and could be a purposeful tactic and strategy as to how to counter the PLAN. Could there be Black Programs within the USA Armed Forces? Could there be Man-made UFOs even? Or are we reading an “Epic Fail” by the U.S. Intelligence and State Departments in managing and fielding this “situation” due to ineptitude, arrogance, hubris, politics, and status quo attitudes that nascent threats cannot rise and impossible engineering marvels cannot be achieved?
An Arms Race seems in the making, and the USA needs to understand that it cannot go about countering alone. Indeed, these seem to be the seeds of a global conflict of Axis and Allied powers if history was to be studied. RIMPAC makes sense…but at the rate China is building ships, how many RIMPAC ships would it take to counter a rising PLAN that doesn’t even need RIMPAC?
The quest for greater and more capable firepower, now more than ever, isn’t 57mm Bofors and frigates anymore, (that is probably the first Western naval mistake) and a lighter, faster, more mobile future USMC and its armor. PLAN and PLAMarines are building heavily-armed forces with great firepower. The USMC would need to reexamine its philosophies as to how to counter such WW3 Chinese Panther and Tiger tanks for the PLAN already has those missile corvette Shermans. Variety of weapon choices in the Chinese military is like a wide selection Chinese buffet and menu, better than the standard (typical) American hot dogs, fries, and burgers menu.
There is a backfire to this though, ironically, a small growing cloud over China. If the Clint Eastwood movie, FIREFOX, said to “Think Russian” to defeat the other Firefox plane, than the plan to “Think Chinese” might be a double-crossing edged sword because the spreading of Chinese influence, people, politics, and products may have its limits. Already the host nations of Africa are not pleased with Chinese foreign influence, the quality of their weapons, and their mannerisms. They want the West to re-intervene, but the USA is usually too busy (and broke) from the GWOT.
To further add to this article and response, take a look at the shipyard photo image. In just ONE shipyard in Shanghai, that represents a LOT of firepower—a LOT—just in terms of PLAN ships.
Now how many USA and Western ports, coastal cities, islands, and colonies have this amount of naval warfare? Not many, and not as dispersed due to budgets, Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC), and anti-military attitudes by the Next Generations. The USCG is often the only source of defensive military firepower in many ports and coastal cities in America.
Ignoring the “Silent Secret Service” of the USN’s SSN sub force in shadowing, if the PLAN ships were to make a beesline towards a certain American port or city, then what would counter them besides USCG’s 7.62mm to 57mm cannon cutters with no torpedoes or guided anti-ship missiles and no SAMs if the USN were to not intercept? Chuck is correct in his preaching to up-arm USCG cutters to deter peer nation aggression and probing tactics.
The fact that no foreign military boot has ever touched American soil is a belief that the Pentagon holds close to its vest. Each Annual Budget needs to reexamine this to determine what is needed for National Security and Defense.
On a tangent but relevant, I do wonder what input the US had on our decision here in the UK to build two carriers? And how much this decision was driven by the USN and increasingly the USMC becoming aviation centric so such an extent that what we would consider core capabilities suffering? I don’t think many here in the UK understand how deeply connected the RN is to the USN. In some circles if you argue for the RN to have a certain capability the counter argument is we don’t need it because the USN has it. My point, finally!, is that knowing the escort and SSN gap was coming wouldn’t we have better maintaining our escort figures at approximately 32 hulls as our contribution to the collective defence? All the USN and the RN has done is paint themselves into a corner with the obsession with aircraft. The PLAN is building what is needed missile trucks that can also exploit the high utility of the ship as a platform in peace and in situations ‘less than war’.
US had little influence into the UK decision to build 2 carriers. UK carrier plan is decades in the making and was entirely based on internal decisions to remain on par with peer powers, i.e. France. Don’t forget the UK retired perfectly capable ships and the Harrier fleet early in order to maintain the carrier and F-35 buy when budgets became tight. The twin UK carriers were set in stone long before Brexit or the shift to world power conflict. And before you think that decision to be in error I would ask why is Japan converting its two largest amphibs to be Lightning carriers? And South Korea is only a few years away from following suit. I personally think the obsessive coverage proclaiming the end of the carrier is premature at best… First and best way to win a war is to avoid it, and there is nothing like a 100,000 ton ship with her half dozen escorts and air wing to make clear your intentions. I think back to the Fulda Gap and my uncles who were convinced that they were nothing but a speed bump. But it can be reasonably argued that the NATO forward presence was critical in making sure the Cold War never got hot.
Though it is a running joke in political circles that we do ‘things’ because the French do them. Yes there was a talk about us sharing a carrier design. But compare that ‘talk’ with the fact that QE class hangar was sized to take current USN / USMC rotor craft and that USMC squadrons were pencilled in to serve aboard QE very early on. The Invincibles were approaching the end of their lives and though good ships weren’t really capable. And by that we were operating GR versions of Harrier and not SHAR; we were basically carrying basic mud movers by sea. I am not sure what Brexit has anything to do with it beyond projected collective EU defence as it exists in the head of Macron.
I don’t care what Korea or Japan are doing. Their small aviation support ships aren’t in the same class as QE. A few F35 would be a ‘me too’ capability. I am talking about it being a mistake in terms of our contribution to the Anglosphere’s collective defence. Obviously carriers are the ultimate maritime weapon as long as you have the escorts both the carrier and the fleet train, the fleet train, helicopters, and fast jets. We are struggling with most of that and most of it will have to be provided by the USN. Nor does my criticism exclude us acquiring LPH. We would have been far better off playing to our strengths than half heatedly trying to recreate a capability we have lost. Consider that what is being pushed by the RAF / FAA isn’t a return to simple ‘jump jet’ aviation but to ape US carrier strike. We pushed the Harrier far beyond what it was hoped it would do originally. But that isn’t a case for us going further.
The yard depicted appears larger than Ingalls Pascagoula, Mississippi yard. Of course, they don’t have to worry about living wages, unions, environmental impacts, housing and transportation. They can ‘Just Do It’ as they’re government owned.
Time to start building and stashing Ambassador IIIs and tenders all around the Pacific Ocean.
I once thought like you did, that the Ambassador IIIs and Swiftships’s missile corvettes were the best until I read a commentator post about the Khareef missile corvettes for Oman.
The problem with the Ambassador IIIs and Swiftships is that they lack dedicated SAMs. They just have SeaRAM like the LCS. Only the Khareefs have 12 real SAM VLS and 8 OTH anti-ship missiles (and 1 X 76mm cannon and 2 X 30mm Bushmasters IIs which could be substituted for 20mm CIWS or SeaRAM, I suppose. It also has a helicopter). The Khareefs by BAE seem to be the best corvette for the job and would be like a mini-frigate and would definitely boost the U.S. Navy Ship Count. Khareefs could enter the Black Sea and escort USCG cutters aboard, freeing up the expensive Burkes from “Showing the Flag” all the time.
A corvette needs dedicated SAMs and ASMs and only the Khareef-class has them as far as I know for that small corvette size. SeaRAM won’t cut it since that’s limited to five mile range.
The Israeli Sa’ar 6 is going to be the best armed corvette in the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sa'ar_6-class_corvette
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According to this report, the Chinese have stopped building Type 056 corvettes, so they can concentrate on construction of larger combatants. http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/2020/january/7945-china-builds-its-last-and-final-type-056-corvette.html
Most likely this will mean, 64 will have been built, when the last are commissioned.
China tells Taiwan that they are under the gun. https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/taiwan/2020/taiwan-200116-globaltimes01.htm?_m=3n%252e002a%252e2780%252ejj0ao001ud%252e2kfj