New Pentagon report details massive Chinese military threat

A Chinese national flag is seen in front of the chimney of a heat supply plant in Beijing, on 16 July 2014.

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Aircraft carriers, stealth fighters, anti-satellite weapons, drones, cyber attack, technology, and a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles are all among a series of Chinese arms said to serious concern for the Pentagon leaders and weapons developers, according to the DoD annual China report.

The Pentagon 2018 report, called “Military and Security Developments Involving the people’s republic of China,” details of a broad spectrum of risks to global economic expansion, massive modernisation of the armed forces and the breakthrough in weapons technology that threaten US superiority.

While, of course, the report comes to the fore within the context of a complex, versatile, and stressed that the U.S. and China relationship which exists growing tension, military rivalry and a certain degree of cooperation. A recent DoD news release, for example, was careful to mention China as a potential “opponent”, not “the enemy.”

However, the Pentagon review is quite detailed in its discussion of the fast-growing military threat of China. A few examples, for example, include the report of the discussion of China’s short -, medium-and long-range ballistic missiles arsenal. China is believed to possess as many as 1,200 short-range ballistic missiles and up to 300 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, according to the report. With this in mind, the report indicates that a number of China’s greater range, precision-guided ballistic missiles are able to reach US assets in the Pacific ocean.

The Pentagon report, along with the previously released Congressional reviews of China’s military, catalog information related to China’s nuclear arsenal and long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles such as the existing DF-31, DF-26 and DF-31A, together with the DF-41. In fact, the Pentagon report specifically cites the DF-26 present a certain threat; the intermediate-range ballistic missile, the report says, can carry both conventional and nuclear explosives from a range of 4000 kilometers.

“U.S. bases in Japan are in the range of a growing number of Chinese MRBMs, and LACMs. H-6K bomber flights in the Western Pacific Ocean show that China has the ability to reach Guam with air-launched LACMs. The DF-26, who made his debut in the public in 2015 and paraded again in 2017, is able to perform precision conventional or nuclear attacks on ground targets that could be US base on Guam,” the 2018 report says.

The Chinese are probably already a number of road-mobile icbms to nuclear weapons, the report says. The DF-41 is reported to have as many as 10 re-entry vehicles, analysts said.

China is known to have carried out a number of hypersonic weapons testing. Not surprisingly, the US Air Force leaders are currently accelerating the construction of prototypes, the testing and the development of hypersonic weapons.(To Read Warrior Maven on the Report of the Air Force Quickly Followed Prototyping of Hypersonic Weapons – CLICK HERE)

In addition, China’s well-documented anti-satellite, or ASAT, weapons testing have inspired international attention and impacted the Pentagon and the US Air Force to accelerate strategies for satellite protection, such as improving the sensor tolerance, cyber hardening, command and control and build in the redundancy to improve the prospects for the functionality in the event of an attack.

China’s rapid development of new destroyers, amphibs, stealth fighters and long-range weapons is the fast increase of the ability to threaten the United States and massively expand expeditionary military operations around the world, according to this years’ Pentagon report, as well as some previous Congress of the reports of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

In recent years, the Chinese have massively increased their foreign presence all over the world, in a transparent attempt to compete with the US as a global superpower. The Chinese have large outbreaks in Africa, and even set up a military base in Djibouti, Africa, right in the vicinity of a strategically vital AMERICAN presence.

“China’s military strategy and the ongoing PLA reforms reflect the discontinuation of its historic land-focused mentality. Also doctrinal references to “forward edge of defense” that would move a potential conflict far from China’s territory suggest PLA strategists eyes a more and more global role,” the report cites.

Many of the details of the Pentagon 2018 report to be aligned with similar claims that, in 2016, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a Congressional report, which also indicated China’s growing provocations and worldwide broadcast exercises.

Additional copies of Chinese provocation in the last few years also the placement of ground-to-air missiles and fighter jets in sensitive areas of the South china Sea, together with the announcement of an “air zone” in the past few years. Although the U.S. military flew B-52 bombers through this is declared from the zone, in a demonstration of defiance, the move did demonstrate China’s growing willingness to be aggressive. In the Chinese “land reclamation” and territorial claims in the South china Sea continue to ask for OUR “freedom of navigation exercises” to unambiguously challenge of China’s claims.

Chinese Navy

While Chinese naval technology may still be substantially behind current U.S. platforms, the equation could change dramatically in the coming decades, because the Chinese are reportedly working on a handful of high-tech next-generation ships, weapons and naval systems.

China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships by 2020 as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets, according to the Congressional reports.

Also the Chinese are building their own indigenous aircraft carriers; their first home-built carrier was launched last year and is expected to go in 2019, the Pentagon report says. More to be built to a joint China’s first carrier, the ukranian-built Liaoning.

Looking to the future, the 2016 report says: “the future of Chinese airlines are likely to be flat-deck ships, such as the AMERICAN carriers, which use steam or magnetic catapults, and would enable the PLA Navy in service aircraft armed with heavier ammunition intended for the maritime strike or land attack missions. According to the DOD, China could build a number of aircraft carriers in the next 15 years. China can result in five ships, for a total of six carriers for the PLA Navy.”

The report also cites the LUYANG III, a new class of Chinese destroyers are equipped with the vertically launched long-range anti-ship cruise missiles. The new destroyers enter an extended-range variant of the HHQ-9 surface-to-air missile, among other weapons, the report says.

As evidence of the impact of these destroyers, the reports indicate that these new multi-mission destroyers are probably the largest part of the warship escorts for the Chinese airlines in a manner that is similar to how the US Navy protects the carriers with hunters in “carrier strike groups.”

“This 8,000-ton destroyers (LUYANG III) . . . have phased-array radars and a long-range SAM [surface-to-air missile system provides the [navy] with its first credible area air-defense capability,” the 2016 report states.

The Chinese are currently testing and developing a new, carrier-based fighter aircraft called the J-15.

About amphibious assault ships, the Chinese are now adding more YUZHAO LPDs, amphibs which can lead to 800 troops, four helicopters and up to 20 armored vehicles, the report said.

“The YUZHAO can have up to four air cushion landing craft, four helicopters, armored vehicles and troops for long-distance deployments, DOD comments “to[s]. . . greater and more flexible opportunities for the ‘distant seas’ activities than the [PLA Navy] older landing ships.,’ according to the report.

The Chinese have ambitious plans for the future for the next generation of amphibious assault ships.

‘China is committed to the construction of a class of amphibious assault ships larger than the YUZHAO class that would include a cockpit for the conduct of helicopter operations. China produces four to six of this Type 081 ships with a capacity to transport 500 troops and configured for helicopter-based vertical attack,” the report says.

Some observers have raised the question about whether this new class of the Chinese amphibs could compete with the US Navy, new, high-tech America-Class amphibious assault ships.

The Chinese are also working on the development of a new Type 055 cruiser equipped with land-attack missiles, lasers and rail-gun weapons, according to the review.

China’s surface fleet is also supported by the production of at least 60 smaller, fast-moving HOBEI-glass guided missile patrol boats and ongoing deliveries of JIANGDAO light frigates armed with naval guns, torpedoes and anti-ship cruise missiles.

Pentagon and Congressional reports also say that the Chinese modernization plans call for a sharp increase in attack submarines and nuclear submarines, or SSBNs. Chinese SSBNs are now able to patrol with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to set goals more than 4500 nautical miles.

The Chinese are currently working on a new, modernized SSBN platform as a long-range missile, the JL-3, the commission said.

The Chinese Air Force

Congress 2014 report suggests that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was at this time approximately 2,200 operational aircraft as far back as four years ago, almost 600 of which were considered to be the modern.

On stealth aircraft, the Chinese operate their first 5th Gen stealth fighter, the J-20. The plane is reported to be more advanced than that of other air platform is currently deployed in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese are also testing a smaller stealth fighter variant called the J-31 while the goal is is unclear, according to the report.

In 2014, China displayed the Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter of chinese Zuhai Air show, according to several reports. However, several analysts have made the point that it is not completely clear if the platform comes close to rivaling the technological capability of the U.S. F-35.

At the same time, the Congress 2014 report specifically cites a Defense Science Board found that the Chinese cyber-attacks resulted in the theft of important specifications and technical details of a range of US weapons systems – the F-35. In fact, the Pentagon recent news report about the 2018, states that an apparent similarity between the F-35 and the Chinese J-20 could very well be a result of espionage.

In short, the U.S. technological edge in weapons, sea and air platforms, is rapidly decreasing, according to all the reviews. To illustrate this, the Congressional review cites comments from an analyst who compared U.S.-Chinese fighter jets to one another roughly twenty years ago, compared to a similar comparison of today.

The analyst said that in 1995 a high-tech U.S. F-15, F-16 or F/A-18 would be much better to have a Chinese J-6 aircraft. However, on the day of today in China J-10 J-11 fighter jet aircraft would be roughly equal in the ability to upgrade the AMERICAN F-15, the review states. For this reason, the air force is now moving aggressively on a number of upgrades to its fleet of F-15s, new computer technology, electronic warfare, radar and weapons systems. (To Read Warrior Maven ‘ s Report on the F-15 Upgrades – CLICK HERE)

In addition to their J-10 and J-11 fighters, the Chinese also own Russian-built Su-27s and Su-30s, and bought Su-35s from Russia.

“The Su-35 is a versatile, highly capable aircraft that would have a much better range and fuel capacity over China’s current fighters. The aircraft thus would strengthen China’s ability to conduct air superiority missions in the Taiwan Strait, the East china Sea and the South china Sea and China the ability to reverse-engineer the fighter’s component parts, including its advanced radar and engines, for integration into China’s current and future indigenous fighters,” the review writes.

In addition to stealth technology, high-tech fighter aircraft and improved avionics, the Chinese have massively increased their power with air-to-air missiles over the last 15 years, the review finds.

“All of the chinese fighters in 2000, with the possible exception of a few modified Su-27s, were limited to within-visual-range missiles. China over the last 15 years also has a number of advanced short-and medium-range air-to-air missiles; precision-guided munitions including all-weather, satellite-guided bombs, anti-radiation missiles, and laser-guided bombs; and long-range, advanced air-launched land-attack cruise missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles,” the review says.

The review also points on the Y-20 aircraft, a new strategic airlifter developed by the Chinese, that is three times the cargo-carrying capacity of the U. S. Air Force C-130. Some of these new aircraft could be configured into tanker aircraft, allowing the Chinese to massively increase their range and ability to project air power over long distances.

At the time that the Chinese do not have a large and modern fleet of oil tankers, and many of their current aircraft are not designed for an aerial refueling, a scenario which limits their reach.

“To the PLA Navy’s first carrier based aviation wing is taken into use, China must use air refueling tankers to the air operations at these distances from China. However, China’s current fleet of air refueling aircraft, which consists of only about 12 1950s-era H–6U tankers, is too small to be sustainable, large-scale, long-distance air combat,” the review states.

The Pentagon’s annual study also raises the concern about China’s acquisition of Russian-made S-400 surface to air missiles.

The S–400 more than double the range of China’s air defenses from approximately 125 to 250 km, the previous Congress review writes. This new series would create a weapon with sufficient range to cover all of Taiwan, the Senkaku Islands, and parts of the South china Sea, the review says.

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