Archive for the ‘aircraft carrier’ Category

China’s Navy Grows and the World Watches Warily

May 13, 2009

Last month, delegations from the naval fleets of 14 nations met at the Chinese port of Qingdao to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA-Navy). It was a chummy affair of joint exercises and processions at sea, overseen by white-clad officers in full regalia. In a speech there, Chinese president Hu Jintao trumpeted his country’s emergence as a budding maritime power, while assuring foreign observers that China “would never seek hegemony, nor would it turn to arms races with other nations.” Instead, Hu claimed, the retooled and expanding Chinese navy would lead the region into “harmonious seas.”

By Ishaan Thardoor
Time Magazine

File:Destroyer sovremenny.jpg
China’s navy is potent and growing.  Here, a Russian designed Chinese cruiser
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But China’s cuddly rhetoric has seduced few. In 2008, Beijing’s annual military budget increased by almost 20% to $60 billion, according to official figures, though the Pentagon estimates that number could actually be closer to $150 billion. Its most recent report on the PLA warned grimly of China’s ability to “develop and field disruptive military technologies” — tactics which the Pentagon thinks will change “regional military balances and… have implications beyond the Asia-Pacific.” China’s strategic interests now rim most of the world’s continents and it remains embroiled in lingering territorial disputes with its neighbors. Though publicly muted, there is growing concern in capitals across the rest of Asia over Beijing’s burgeoning pre-eminence. “There’s no escaping the fact that, in the past ten years, China’s negotiating power has increased while others have weakened,” says C. Raja Mohan, a leading Indian foreign policy expert and professor at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School for International Studies. (Read “China’s Navy: How Big a Threat to the U.S.?”)

In response to China’s gains — which include putting out three new submarines a year since 1995 — neighboring countries have also set about beefing up their fleets. Just a week after the ceremonies in Qingdao, Vietnam announced its purchase of six kilo-class submarines from Russia. On May 2, the Australian government published a white paper outlining a twenty year, $74 billion plan to revitalize its navy so it could be ready, if need be, to counter a “major power adversary” — a thinly veiled reference to how some defense officials there imagine China’s military project. “The front line of the Cold War may have been in Western Europe,” says Andrew Davies, an expert on Asian military modernization at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a Canberra-based think tank. “But a future one could well be drawn through the western Pacific.”

Read the rest:
http://www.time.com/time/world/artic
le/0,8599,1897871,00.html?xid=rss-topstories


Above: Missile Destroyer Haikou 171 of the PLA Navy’s South China Sea Fleet.  She departed with two other Chinese warships on a mission to the Gulf of Aden near Somali on anti-pirate patrol in December.  Many in the West see this as a sign of renewed cooperation between China and other military powers.  Others see this move as practice for more far flung Chinese naval deployments.

Related:

Pentagon: Chinese Ships Harassed Unarmed Navy Craft in International Waters 
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While Obama Announces Oil Conservation Measures, China Surges Ahead To Gobble Up Available Reserves

What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?

Speculation grows on China aircraft carrier plans
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China’s Military Build-Up Meant To Take On U.S., Says Joint Chiefs Chairman


This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23). Five Chinese vessels maneuvered dangerously close to a US Navy ship in the South China Sea on Sunday, March 8, 2009, approaching within 25 feet of the unarmed surveillance ship, the Pentagon said.  USNS Victorious, a sister ship, was apparently harassed the week of May 1, 2009, by China at sea.(AFP/NVNS)

China’s Military Build-Up Meant To Take On U.S., Says Joint Chiefs Chairman

May 4, 2009

China‘s build-up of sea and air military power funded by a strong economy appears aimed at the United States, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Monday.

Admiral Michael Mullen said China had the right to meet its security needs, but the build-up would require the United States to work with its Pacific allies to respond to increasing Chinese military capabilities.

Reuters

Related:
China Again Tests U.S., Obama At Sea
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“They are developing capabilities that are very maritime focused, maritime and air focused, and in many ways, very much focused on us,” he told a conference of the Navy League, a nonprofit seamen’s support group, in Washington.

“They seem very focused on the United States Navy and our bases that are in that part of the world.”

China in March unveiled its official military budget for 2009 of $70.24 billion, the latest in nearly two decades of double-digit rises in declared defense spending.

Beijing bristles at criticism, saying its spending is line with economic growth and defense needs, and its budget remains a fraction of the Pentagon‘s.

Mullen acknowledged that “every country in the world has got a right to develop their military as they see fit to provide for their own security.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/2009050
4/pl_nm/us_usa_china_military_1


China drill at sea.  China is moving to expand its influence and seapower to control resources.

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/05/
06/china-continues-challenging-nav
y-ships-in-yellow-sea/

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What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?
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Sun Setting On American Superpower?
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China’s Naval Might: Future Dawning Quickly
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This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean ... 
This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23). Five Chinese vessels maneuvered dangerously close to a US Navy ship in the South China Sea on Sunday, March 8, 2009, approaching within 25 feet of the unarmed surveillance ship, the Pentagon said.  USNS Victorious, a sister ship, was apparently harassed the week of May 1, 2009, by China at sea.(AFP/NVNS)

China’s Naval Might: Future Dawning Quickly

May 1, 2009

In 2001 the hulk of an old Soviet aircraft carrier arrived in Dalian, China. Having been towed from the Black Sea through the Bosphorus Strait halfway around the world, the engine-less warship is now nearing complete modernization. The Chinese have arrived at the point where they will soon launch their first operational aircraft carrier and will have taken their first step in creating a worldwide naval presence.

By George H. Wittman
American Spectator
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This aim was made quite clear last week at the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China’s communist naval force. The Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is the actual translation of the name of the Chinese navy and it was through an official invitation from this organization that the United States had an honored place in the ceremony. Recognizing the importance of the occasion, the U.S. was represented by the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead. Pointedly there was no Japanese naval representative; they hadn’t been invited.

When the Chinese carrier is launched, it will have waiting for it a complete battle group of guided missile destroyers and escort frigates, as well as nuclear and conventional submarines along with support ships. One of Taiwan’s principal defense think tanks has already projected 2015 as the date when Chinese naval power will be physically capable of challenging the U.S. Navy in the Taiwan Straits. But even before then the PLAN expect to have a blue water naval strength operating to protect its sea lanes.

It is estimated that approximately 80% of all imported crude and refined oil products destined for China passes through the Malacca Strait that currently is being patrolled by the U.S. 7th Fleet. China seeks to have a major role in the future in policing its own strategic economic routes, and projecting force throughout Asian seas is a top priority. It is not merely a matter of pride, although that is part of it.

China has felt exceedingly vulnerable at sea ever since the shiny new modern navy of the Qing Dynasty was destroyed by the Japanese Imperial Navy in 1894. It’s a long time to wait for naval “social” acceptance and the newly rich PRC has no intention of waiting a moment longer. China already has ships operating in the western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, participating in international anti-pirate operations.

Read the rest:
http://spectator.org/archives/20
09/05/01/admiral-wu-steams-full-ahead

Obama Sounds Death Knell for F-22; New Pentagon Budget Rolls Back Many Big Programs

April 22, 2009

A top executive at Lockheed Martin Corp. indicated Tuesday that it has accepted the Pentagon’s proposal to cap production of the defense contractor‘s F-22 fighter jet, the latest sign the job-heavy program may not be revived.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proposed that the Pentagon buy 187 of the planes, short of the 20 to 60 more that Lockheed and its supporters in Congress had hoped for. The Gates plan was endorsed last week by to Air Force officials, who previously pushed hard for many more of the technologically advanced but costly planes.

By STEPHEN MANNING, AP Business Writer

F-22 Raptor

As lead contractor on the jets that cost $140 million each, Lockheed has warned in a public relations blitz that capping the F-22 could lead to up to 25,000 job losses at the company and other suppliers working on the program. The F-22 assembly line at Lockheed’s Marietta, Ga., aircraft plant likely will turn out the last plane in 2012 if Gates’ plan, which must be approved by Congress, goes into effect.

Lockheed Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner said in an investor call that the company has lobbied on the issue, but the Pentagon is “completely aligned on this matter from top to bottom.”

“We are disappointed by the decisions, but we will accept those and go on,” Tanner said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200904
21/ap_on_bi_ge/us_lockheed_fighte
r_plane_2

http://hotair.com/archives/2009
/04/22/so-long-f-22/

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Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy wrote that President Obama is gutting an important part of the U.S. defense budget by cutting America’s power-projection capabilities.

The defense budget reductions recently unveiled by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates seem to have one thing in common: They will diminish the United States’ ability to extend its global reach for the protection of this country and its interests around the world.

For example, Mr. Obama and Mr. Gates propose to cancel the C-17, America’s indispensable airlifter; the F-22, the world’s best fighter/attack aircraft; and the Army’s Future Combat Systems program, a comprehensive and long-overdue modernization program for that service’s armored forces. They would also truncate the purchase of F-18 E/Fs, the backbone of naval aviation, evidently as a precursor to reducing the number of operational aircraft carriers. Missile defense programs will be ravaged. There will be no modernization, ever, of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. And the industrial base needed to support all of the above will be allowed to atrophy and/or be sold off to foreign powers keen to manufacture the superior weapon systems we no longer will.


Gaffney

Related:
Gaffney on Obama:
First 100 Days: Blame America First, Undermining U.S. Sovereignty, Appeasement

China displays resurgent naval strength
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China: Military Modernization Continues
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Russia Rearms

Pentagon cuts are about budget pressure — not what Pentagon really needs for the future


Above: Russia’s Medvedev

Russians Angry With China’s “Copy Cat” Military Hardware, Technology

April 22, 2009

China completes the tests of its latest fighter. Chinese engineers say that J-11BS represents the aviation of the fourth generation. Foreign experts say that the Chinese have actually stolen the idea of the fighter jet from Russia.

From Pravda

China’s latest J-11BS fighter was unveiled on April 10. The development of the aircraft is to be finished by the end of 2009. The serial production is to be launched in 2010.

Chinese engineers have not offered anything new. The J-11BS is a two-seated modification of the J-11B, which appeared in China as a result of an international scandal.

China purchased a batch of Su-27 SKK from Russia in 1992. The country later said that it would like to build its own fighters on the Russian license. Russia then received orders for the two-seated version of the same aircraft – Su-30 MKK.

The miracle of the Chinese aircraft-making company Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) took off in 1998 – the J-11 aircraft, which was actually a licensed product.

China ’s military administration said six years later that it no longer needed licensed fighter jets because their battling capacities did not match the country’s needs, as it was said. China had 95 new J-11 aircraft added to its arsenal; the planes virtually represented Russian fighter jets assembled in China.

However, China proved to be unable to develop the production of aircraft engines, and the country continues to purchase Russian engines for Su-27 MKK and Su-30 MKK, which supposedly do not meet China’s demands.

In February 2007, China represented J-11B, which bore a striking resemblance to Russia’s Su fighters, as US experts wrote.

China is currently working on the deck-based version of the Su-27 aircraft. The country apparently uses its previous experience and copy Russian fighters for it. Therefore, Russia refused to sell deck-based Su-33 to China in 2008.

Sergei Balmasov

First 100 Days: Blame America First, Undermining U.S. Sovereignty, Appeasement

April 21, 2009

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Increasingly, it appears Barack Obama feels the same way about America. Call it the PogObama worldview.

The president’s first 100 days have been a blur of legislative initiatives, policy pronouncements and symbolic gestures that, taken together, constitute the most sweeping and fundamental makeover of U.S. domestic and foreign policies since at least World War II. Animating them all is a hostility toward this country’s traditional values, institutions and conduct that is best described by Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick’s phrase “blame America first.”

By Frank Gaffney
The Washington Times

To be sure, Mr. Obama has plenty of company in this camp, both at home and abroad. “San Francisco Democrats” (another Kirkpatrickism) like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and tyrants like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (with whom the president did “high fives” over the weekend) and Saudi King Abdullah (to whom the president bowed two weeks ago) are of a mind: The United States owes the world myriad apologies for its arrogance, unilateralism, aggression and other sins. And it needs to make amends in various, substantial and ominously portentous ways, including the following:

–Releasing the so-called “torture memos”: The president pandered to the left last week by ignoring the advice of five past and present CIA directors and declassifying several top-secret legal memorandums. They lay out in excruciating detail what “enhanced interrogation techniques” could be used in extreme circumstances to secure information being withheld by al Qaeda and other high-value enemy operatives.

Though Mr. Obama says that those who followed these guidelines will not be prosecuted, he has, as a practical matter, invited their prosecution by others. Certainly, he left the door open, both here and overseas, to inquisitions of the memo-drafters and their superiors by Spanish judges, witch hunters in the U.S. Congress, prosecutors with the International Criminal Court, etc.

By effectively declaring “open season” on those in the Bush administration who helped secure this country in its time of need post-Sept. 11, Mr. Obama is not only wronging dedicated public servants who acted in good faith and prescribed techniques well short of torture. (As David Rivkin and Lee Casey point out in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, thousands of American servicemen have been subjected to such methods for decades as part of their survival training.) He is also opening his own team to similar jeopardy, perhaps for killing innocent civilians with their Predator strikes in Pakistan or attacks said to be under discussion on putative Somali “terrorist camps.”

— Undermining U.S. sovereignty: Mr. Obama is embracing sovereignty-sapping treaties, theories of “universal jurisprudence” and individuals such as State Department legal adviser-designate Harold H. Koh who espouse them. The desired result evidently is a world governed by international norms and bureaucrats rather than one dominated – or even forcefully led – by bad old America.

— Cutting America’s power-projection capabilities: The defense budget reductions recently unveiled by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates seem to have one thing in common: They will diminish the United States’ ability to extend its global reach for the protection of this country and its interests around the world.

For example, Mr. Obama and Mr. Gates propose to cancel the C-17, America’s indispensable airlifter; the F-22, the world’s best fighter/attack aircraft; and the Army’s Future Combat Systems program, a comprehensive and long-overdue modernization program for that service’s armored forces. They would also truncate the purchase of F-18 E/Fs, the backbone of naval aviation, evidently as a precursor to reducing the number of operational aircraft carriers. Missile defense programs will be ravaged. There will be no modernization, ever, of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. And the industrial base needed to support all of the above will be allowed to atrophy and/or be sold off to foreign powers keen to manufacture the superior weapon systems we no longer will.

— Trying to appease America’s adversaries: Mr. Obama is determined to normalize relations with literally every one of the world’s bad actors – notably, Vladimir Putin’s Russian kleptocracy, Iran’s incipient nuclear mullahocracy, the Castro brothers’ island gulag, the megalomaniacal Kim dynasty in North Korea, the spreading and virulently anti-American axis in our own hemisphere led by Mr. Chavez and the Muslim Brotherhood and other Shariah-adherent entities – without regard to their continuing, dangerous behavior or ambitions.

By associating himself with these hostile powers’ critiques of the United States and by acquiescing to many, if not all, of their demands, Mr. Obama may temporarily cultivate the illusion of having improved bilateral relations and America’s “image” internationally. Unfortunately, it is absolutely predictable that – in the absence of systemic changes in these and other despotic regimes the president is romancing – any “improvements” will come at the Free World’s expense. And the image America ultimately will project will be of an emasculated, formerly great power, easy prey for those who seek not just to displace, but to destroy, it.

Under these circumstances, those of us who reject the PogObama view of the United States have our work cut out for us. Fortunately, most Americans do not see their country as “the enemy.” It is time for legislators and other leaders who prize our sovereignty, who recognize the importance of preserving and wisely using our power and who understand that our true foes are numerous, elsewhere and being emboldened to enlist the public in challenging Team Obama’s agenda before it brings us to grief.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

Is China America’s Friend or Not?

April 18, 2009

A cave complex blasted out of the rocky coastline on China’s southern island province of Hainan is home to one of the newest and potentially most lethal weapons in Beijing’s arsenal: a home-grown submarine designed to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

By ANDREW BROWNE and GORDON FAIRCLOUGH
The Wall Street Journal

So when the USNS Impeccable, a U.S. surveillance ship, was snooping in the area last month, China set a trap. Five Chinese vessels crowded around the U.S. ship. Crew members hurled chunks of wood into the Impeccable’s path and used poles to try to snare its acoustic equipment. When U.S. sailors turned a fire hose on their assailants, the sodden Chinese crew aboard one of the vessels stripped to their underwear and closed to within 25 feet, the Pentagon said.

The encounter in the South China Sea, which lasted for about 3½ hours, was intended to send a clear message. China says the Impeccable was violating international law by conducting surveillance activities in its exclusive economic zone. The U.S. and many other nations view such activity as legal.

When U.S. surveillance ships visit the area in the future, says Su Hao, director of the Center for Strategic and Conflict Management at China Foreign Affairs University, “they’ll be more cautious.”
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The Pentagon views China as the country most likely, at some point down the road, to acquire the capacity to challenge the U.S. military on a global scale. The U.S. in recent years has moved to strengthen its forces in the Pacific and urged its ally Japan to do the same. Washington and Tokyo are working together to boost anti-missile defenses, to defend against threats from both North Korea and China. And some in the Defense Department talk up the “China threat” to justify greater spending on new weapons systems.

This week, Adm. Wu Shengli, the top officer in China’s navy — officially known as the People’s Liberation Army Navy — said the service would move faster to modernize its arsenal and build larger and more capable warships “to boost the ability to fight in regional sea wars” using high-tech weaponry. In an interview with China’s official Xinhua news agency ahead of the navy’s 60th anniversary next week, he also said the navy would improve its ability to operate on the high seas. Other officials in recent months have talked about China building its first aircraft carrier, adding to U.S. concerns that China wants to project its power.

A missile destroyer "Shenzhen" leaves the Zhanjiang ...
A missile destroyer “Shenzhen” leaves the Zhanjiang port, south China’s Guangdong province — file photo.REUTERS/China Daily

However, many observers, both in China and the U.S., say that fear of China is exaggerated. China’s armed forces are still no match for U.S. firepower at sea, on land or in space. Many American security analysts — including former senior military officers — do not believe that China intends to take on the U.S., as the former Soviet Union once did. For now, China’s military falls back on a mix of high-tech weaponry, such as its new Jin-class nuclear-missile submarines, and low-tech stealth and cunning.

Chinese leaders say that their country’s economic rise will be peaceful. However, it is accompanied at times by a strident nationalism — a desire to restore what many people in the country see as China’s rightful place in the world, stolen by 19th-century Western imperialists and 20th-century Japanese militarists. China’s belligerence toward Taiwan and its military secrecy make it easier for hawks from Washington to New Delhi to paint a picture of a vengeful China plotting its comeback.

North Korea’s failed launch of a ballistic-missile-like rocket on April 5 complicates the situation. It is likely to spur Japan to strengthen its military and invest more in missile-defense efforts, in which it is now cooperating with the U.S. That could add to tension with China, which already views the U.S.-Japan alliance as a partnership designed to constrain Chinese power. China yearns for stability on the Korean peninsula, fearing that if North Korea collapses, a wave of refugees will spill over its borders, and it will end up face-to-face with U.S. forces stationed in the South.

According to the Chinese government, the country’s defense budget for 2008 was $60 billion, up nearly 18% from a year earlier. The Pentagon believes China’s official figures substantially underestimate actual defense spending. It estimates that China spent $105 billion to $150 billion on military-related expenses last year, as its military transforms itself from a low-tech mass army designed to fight a war of attrition against invaders to a more sophisticated, agile force capable of projecting power beyond China’s borders.

China’s main focus in modernizing its military over the past few decades has been preventing Taiwan from establishing formal independence and stopping any effort by the U.S. to come to the island’s aid in a crisis. Now some Chinese naval officers talk of one day patrolling as far as the Indian Ocean, conjuring up images from China’s imperial past 600 years ago, when a towering armada of treasure ships led by the Chinese Muslim eunuch Admiral Zheng He, or Cheng Ho, sailed through those waters on its way to east Africa.

Despite protests that its more capable navy should be no cause for alarm among neighboring states or Washington, Chinese ships and submarines have been pushing farther offshore. In at least some cases they’ve tested the defenses of other nations and telegraphed the Chinese navy’s intentions to be a player on the high seas.

Some U.S. military analysts now see a broader threat to American domination of the seas, linked to the spread of Chinese trade and economic influence around the globe. If China can challenge a U.S. surveillance ship off its coast, they are asking, might the rising Asian economic superpower in the future aggressively patrol its maritime trade routes in the Strait of Malacca (through which most of China’s vital oil supplies pass), or even the Persian Gulf? The pessimistic view says as much about the anxieties of the world’s sole superpower as it does about Chinese capabilities.

Historically, the West has projected both fantastic hopes and dark anxieties upon China. Sentiments veering between the two extremes have long confused the West’s relations with the Asian giant. A conflicting dynamic is now at work in relations between the U.S. and China, arguably the most important relationship of the 21st century. While economic forces are pulling the two sides closer (China has become America’s largest creditor), military ties have stalled.

Generals and admirals in the Pentagon have objected to China’s challenge in international waters where their Navy has operated for more than half a century — even if those waters are right on China’s doorstep. In his testimony to the Senate’s armed services committee, Adm. Timothy Keating, the officer in charge of American forces in Asia, said that the interception of the Impeccable off Hainan Island showed that the Chinese are “not willing to abide by acceptable standards of behavior.”

Mr. Su of China Foreign Affairs University says the world fundamentally misreads Chinese intentions. China is a land power, he says, concerned about safeguarding its border regions and consumed by its desire for internal security and cohesion. To those who see menace in China’s seaward expansion, he offers this advice: “Relax.”

The Pentagon’s latest annual report on the Chinese military, published late last month, was widely criticized within China as biased and alarmist. The report says that “China’s ability to sustain military power at a distance remains limited,” but notes that its armed forces continue to “develop and field disruptive military technologies” that are “changing regional military balances and that have implications beyond the Asia-Pacific region.” It also said: “Much uncertainty surrounds China’s future course.”

The report “exaggerates Chinese military power” by overestimating the country’s ability to project force beyond its own territory, says Yuan Peng, director of the American Studies Institute at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing. “Chinese military power is still at a developing country’s level. It lags far behind the U.S., Russia and even Japan and India in some senses.”

In Mr. Yuan’s view, American anxiety — after blows to the national psyche from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the ongoing financial meltdown — goes well beyond China’s military advance. “What makes people nervous is not really our military, but China’s economic rise and the Chinese political model,” he says. “China is rising so fast, the population is so big and the social system is so different” that it excites unease.

Still, China’s massive bulk — its continental size and vast population — looms over Asia, and its military modernization threatens an arms race in the region. Japan, heavily dependent on crude oil and raw materials from the Middle East and Australia, worries that one day it may run into a hostile Chinese navy along the same sea lanes that feed China’s rapid growth. Some Indian strategists worry that China is gaining an ability to disrupt its ocean trade, and is encircling it through diplomatic and military links with neighboring countries from Myanmar to Pakistan.

Among the biggest worries for the U.S. is China’s improved submarine fleet, which could delay or prevent U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups from responding to a crisis in and around Taiwan, the island that Beijing has pledged to bring under its rule, by force if necessary. China aims more than 1,000 missiles at Taiwan to deter any attempt by the island’s leaders to formally establish independence. China has also acquired eight Russian kilo-class submarines, which are very hard to detect when submerged, and is building its own attack submarines.

Some of the newer ships and submarines in China’s fleet are equipped with Russian-made anti-ship cruise missiles that can fly at supersonic speeds. Those missiles, and an anti-ship ballistic missile under development, appear aimed at giving China the ability to strike U.S. aircraft carriers, say U.S. naval officers. Aircraft carriers have been the mainstay of U.S. maritime power for decades.

While China has no aircraft carriers of its own, Chinese officials have started talking publicly again about adding one to their own fleet. Chinese shipyards would likely have little difficulty building the type of mid-sized carrier most analysts expect China to launch. But mastering the operations of a carrier task force and its aircraft would probably take many years, analysts say.

Chinese navy officers believe that their forces must be able to push beyond what they consider the first island chain — running south from Japan and around the east side of Taiwan — that stands between China and the broad expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Being able to move ships and subs out into the Pacific would be critical to Chinese efforts to block or delay the approach of U.S. ships to Taiwan or the mainland.

China’s fleets have been pushing farther offshore. Last October, a flotilla of four Chinese navy ships, including a Russian-built guided-missile destroyer and two of the country’s most-advanced frigates, passed through the narrow Tsugaru Strait between the main Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido and out into the Pacific Ocean. Japanese saw it as a demonstration of China’s growing might.

Chinese submarines have also been detected a number of times nosing around Japanese waters. In 2004, a submerged Chinese sub passed through another narrow strait in what the Japanese considered a violation of international law. U.S. and Japanese defense officials interpreted it as a possible effort to map and gather intelligence about routes from the East China Sea to the Pacific.

The new naval base on Hainan, which appears large enough to accommodate surface ships as well as attack and ballistic-missile submarines, gives China’s navy direct access to vital international sea lanes. It could allow submarines to deploy stealthily into the deep waters of the South China Sea, the Pentagon says.

Analysts from the Federation of American Scientists who have examined satellite images of the Hainan base say it also appears to have a facility of the sort used by the U.S. Navy to demagnetize nuclear-missile submarines before they deploy, to make them harder to detect. If that were true, it would indicate China’s intention to use its ballistic-missile submarines as an active part of its nuclear deterrent. The federation says that there is no evidence that China’s previous generation of nuclear-missile-carrying submarine ever carried out a single deterrent patrol.

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1240
01124687130799.html#mod=article-outset-box

China: Military Modernization Continues

April 17, 2009

The navy plans to develop a new generation of warships and aircraft as part of the country’s effort to upgrade the maritime security defense system, the service’s commander-in-chief said on Wednesday.

From Xinhua
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Admiral Wu Shengli outlined key missions, present and future, in an interview with Xinhua News Agency on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Chinese navy next Thursday.
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Such an interview with a high-ranking military officer is rare, military sources said on Wednesday, adding that the message conveyed by the navy chief reflects key thinking on the navy’s strategy.
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Wu – who is 64 and assumed his post in August 2006 – said the navy will develop weaponry such as large combat warships, submarines with longer range and stealth capability, supersonic cruise aircraft, more accurate long-range missiles, deep-sea torpedoes and upgraded information technology, among others.
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Senior Colonel Li Jie, a researcher at the Chinese Navy’s Military Academy, said the “large warships” Wu mentioned do not mean only aircraft carriers, but he did not elaborate. The media have reported that China will have an aircraft carrier “very soon”.
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East China fleet commander Admiral Xu Hongmeng said last month during the national legislature’s annual session that the country possessed both the ability and motivation to build a carrier.
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“China really needs a carrier. Both technologically and economically, China already has the capacity to build a carrier,” Xu said.
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Wu, a member of the Central Military Commission, the nation’s top military body, also said the navy will greatly strengthen its logistics and support facility system to improve far-sea repair, delivery, rescue and replenishment capacities.
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“The navy will establish a maritime defense system that corresponds with the need to protect China’s maritime security and economic development,” he said.
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Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based military strategist, said Wu’s remarks are more than routine remarks to mark the navy’s landmark anniversary.
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“He outlined the missions of the navy in a new historical stage, where more of the country’s national interests overseas need to be protected with a correspondingly strong navy,” he said.
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The navy has witnessed rapid progress in its logistics and support capability, with the tonnage of complementary ships now six times higher than 30 years ago.
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The network of naval bases, airports and ammunition supply systems have enabled the navy to conduct missions further offshore.
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Wu also said the navy is stepping up exchanges with foreign navies to tackle non-traditional security threats.
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“To cope with the non-traditional security threats in the vast sea environment, exchanges and effective cooperation among the navies of different countries are vital.”
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Wu announced major missions for the navy this year, including: Anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia, port visits, the National Day parade and a sea parade to mark its 60th anniversary.
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Preparations have entered final stages in Qingdao, headquarters of China’s North Sea Fleet, for the celebrations next week. More than 40 vessels from 15 countries are scheduled to take part in the event.

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Above: Missile Destroyer Haikou 171 of the PLA Navy’s South China Sea Fleet.  She departed with two other Chinese warships on a mission to the Gulf of Aden near Somali on anti-pirate patrol in December.