I’m juuuuuust starting to draft a series on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. In the meantime, here’s a copy of the annual report to Congress on the PLA.
Tag Archives: china
China’s Ministry of National Defense issued an announcement of the aircraft identification rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone of the People’s Republic of China.p Following is the full text:
Announcement of the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone of the People’s Republic of China
Issued by the Ministry of National Defense on November 23
The Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China, in accordance with the Statement by the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, now announces the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone as follows:
First, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must abide by these rules.
Second, aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must provide the following means of identification:
1. Flight plan identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should report the flight plans to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China or the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
2. Radio identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must maintain the two-way radio communications, and respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries from the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone or the unit authorized by the organ.
3. Transponder identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, if equipped with the secondary radar transponder, should keep the transponder working throughout the entire course.
4. Logo identification. Aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must clearly mark their nationalities and the logo of their registration identification in accordance with related international treaties.
The US establishment of an air defense system over the nation and Canada in the Cold War coincided with both the potential threat of a Soviet bomber attack, and the increase in commercial trans-oceanic flights. To give interceptors time and space to scramble to meet any potential threat, all flights that would enter US or Canadian airspace were required to identify themselves clearly, by filing a flight plan, operating a transponder, and establishing two-way radio communications with air traffic control. Any aircraft not meeting these requirements would potentially find itself intercepted by Air Defense Command, and identified, escorted, or even forced to land. This zone was known as an Air Defense Identification Zone or ADIZ. Theoretically, failure to comply with ADC could even result in being shot down. The US wasn’t big on shooting down airliners, but as Korean Air 007 showed,violating the Soviet equivalent of an ADIZ could be deadly.
No one is really challenging the right of China to have an ADIZ over its territory. The establishment of an ADIZ over disputed international waters, however, is an extreme provocation. Almost certainly, every commercial carrier that transits the area will comply. Failure to do so would cause virtually every insurer to cancel coverage.
But to simply accede to this pronouncement would be a de facto admission by other governments that China’s assertion of an ADIZ is legitimate. Japan especially, and perhaps other governments, will likely challenge the validity of the ADIZ. And they’ll do so with military aircraft.
This is an escalation that will lead to one side or the other losing face, or one side or the other losing airplanes. And probably lives.
While President Obama is busy pissing off long time allies like the French and Germans* both through policies that offend them, attempting to align more closely with autocratic Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, and spying on just about everybody, you might have missed another Obama “success” story.
Since World War II the US and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia have had a steady, if not always strong, alignment. And that alignment is in danger of rupture.
Saudi Arabia often strikes us more as a “frenemy” than an ally. We all know that 15 of 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals, as was, of course, Osama bin Laden. And Saudi subjects finance radical madrasses worldwide, preaching a vision of Islam that sneers at the mores and values of our Western culture and heritage.
But the Saudi royal family, despite appearing to be an absolute monarchy, is in a difficult position. As much as they try to moderate and modernize their culture, any shift to a more liberal** stance risks seeing them overthrown by their own radical elements. The family has to walk a tightrope between maintaining relations with the West, and not inviting internal revolt.
Saudi Arabia’s single biggest external security issue is Iran. The incredibly deep schism between Sunni and Shia means Iran is an even greater threat to the kingdom than any possible internal unrest. And the specter of a nuclear armed Iran is the nightmare fuel for Saudi foreign ministry types.
Sadly, Obama seems to take at face value the extraordinarily meager crumbs of reconciliation the new Iranian president Rouhani. This is incredibly naive, even for this feckless administration. The Iranians are clearly trying to buy time to further their nuclear weapons program. Toning down the rhetoric is an easy way to do it. That our own government can’t see that is astonishing. Further, even in the incredible case that President Rouhani actually did wish to change the relationship between the US and Iran, such a policy decision is out of his hands. The president of Iran can do pretty much anything he wants, policy-wise, so long as it is exactly what the Supreme Ruling Council wants.
Michael Totten has a terrific post that showcases the fruits of our amatuer foreign policy, a policy so bad that it is driving Saudi Arabia away from the US, and into the arms of… who knows? He goes off the rails a bit there, but the diagnosis is spot on.
Personally, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if China was quick to make friends.
*To be honest, I’m not a bit dismayed to hear we’re spying on them. We’re supposed to spy on everybody but our own citizens.
**Not in the American political sense
China’s top newspaper on Wednesday published a call for a review of Japan’s sovereignty over the island of Okinawa — home to major US bases — with the Asian powers already embroiled in a territorial row.
The lengthy article in the People’s Daily, China’s most-circulated newspaper and the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist party, argued that the country may have rights to the Ryukyu chain, which includes Okinawa.
The island is home to major US air force and marine bases as well as 1.3 million people, who are considered more closely related to Japan in ethnic and linguistic terms than to China.
The authors of the article, two scholars at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, considered China’s top state-run think-tank, said the Ryukyus were a “vassal state” of China before Japan annexed the islands in the late 1800s.
“Unresolved problems relating to the Ryukyu Islands have reached the time for reconsideration,” wrote Zhang Haipeng and Li Guoqiang, citing post-World War II declarations that required Japan to return Chinese territory.
I knew in my bones I’d see it at CDR Salamander’s place this morning.
China in the last 5 or so years has become increasingly expansionistic. As their military and economic power has risen, so to has a significant percentage of both the leadership and the population become more vocal about reclaiming territories they deem their own.
Ten years ago, the supposition was China primarily posed an expansionistic threat to Taiwan. Today, the emphasis has shifted away from Taiwan. That doesn’t reflect a change in mainland China’s goal for control of Taiwan, but rather a belief by many that sooner or later, Taiwan will fall effectively, if not de jure, under Chinese rule.
What is interesting in this case is that most of the previous recent disputes about maritime properties have related to areas with potential for resource exploitation such as oil, gas, or fishing rights. While there is certainly economic potential in the Ryukyus, any Chinese control of Okinawa would best be seen as an outpost of a defensive chain, much as the Japanese used several chains of islands during World War II. For that matter, much as we use it as a forward outpost today.
This increasingly aggressive foreign policy has sparked something of an arms race along the Rim of the Pacific. South Korea, already committed to strong self defense against its nutty neighbors to the north has in the past few years put great effort into expanding its navy. Today is it fielding world class blue water destroyers and helicopter carriers. The North Koreans have virtually no navy, and while this buildup can be seen as a balance against Japan, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force has long had a significant destroyer force. That force never lead to South Korea building up its navy before. Once can only conclude it is in response to the expansion of the Chinese fleet.
One wonders what major shift in US foreign policy may have occurred in the past five years that might have encouraged China to embrace an increasingly confrontational foreign policy. Of course, the Chinese bear ultimate responsibility for their actions, but failure of the US to provide clear leadership and an unambiguous policy in the region isn’t helping matters.
Information Dissemination: Strength in Numbers: The Remarkable Potential of (really) Small Combatants
I’ll have to go back after finishing today’s taskings, and read this in detail and give it some thought. I’m not convinced that a small craft approach is what we need in the Western Pacific, but I have long believed that such an approach would be fruitful in certain waters, specifically the Persian Gulf, and possibly off the Horn of Africa. And of course, the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.
You are a tactical commander tasked with a mission to seek out and destroy one of the enemy’s premier capital ships in his home waters. You have two potential striking forces at your disposal: a world class surface combatant of your own with a 99% probability of mission success (Ps = 0.99) or a squadron of eight independently operating, missile carrying small combatants – each with a chance of successfully completing the mission no better than a coin flip (Ps = 0.5). Do you go with the almost sure thing and choose to send in your large combatant? As it turns out, the squadron of small combatants has an even higher overall Ps. But let’s assume now that you’ve advanced to operational commander. You might have more concerns than just overall Ps. What are the defensive and logistical requirements for each option? How much fleet investment am I risking with each option? What will it cost to replace the asset(s) if it is lost? What capability does the striking force have after successful enemy action (i.e. resilience)? An analysis of these factors, intentionally designed to disadvantage the small combatants, actually comes out overwhelmingly in their favor over the large combatant. The results verify what naval strategists and tacticians have long known: for certain offensive missions, an independently operating group of even marginally capable platforms can outperform a single large combatant at lower cost and less risk to the mission.
Put on your thinking caps, and let me hear your thoughts. You groundpounders might think of it in terms of armor versus light infantry in open versus close terrain.
Hardly a day goes by where I don’t find myself in disagreement with at least something from the Op-Ed pages of the NYT. Today is no exception. It’s far more rare that I find myself in agreement with the left leaning blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money. Today is an exception.
The Korean crisis has now become a strategic threat to America’s core national interests. The best option is to destroy the North Korean missile on the ground before it is launched. The United States should use a precise airstrike to render the missile and its mobile launcher inoperable.
President Obama should state clearly and forthrightly that this is an act of self-defense in response to explicit threats from North Korea and clear evidence of a prepared weapon. He should give the leaders of South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan advance notice before acting. And he should explain that this is a limited defensive strike on a military target — an operation that poses no threat to civilians — and that America does not intend to bring about regime change. The purpose is to neutralize a clear and present danger. That is all.
China’s role in a potential war on the Korean Peninsula is hard to predict. Well then. Might as well just bomb North Korea and see what happens!
For that matter, we might just want to consult our South Korean allies on the matter, rather than just giving them advanced notice since, after all, the inevitably resulting war would take place on their turf. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, and one of the densest metroplexes on Earth, lies within easy artillery range of North Korea. I’m not entirely convinced they’d relish being plastered by thousands and thousands of artillery rounds and rockets just based on a hunch that North Korea was doing more than its usual sabre-rattling-for-aid routine.
That’s not to say I don’t take the threat of a nuclear armed North Korea seriously. Just that any serious (or even the most amateur) student of strategy in the nuclear era* knows there are more options on the table than shoot/don’t shoot, today, at this moment in time. I tend to agree with URR that willfully lying to ourselves that China is a strategic partner with a shared interest in maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula is foolish. But that doesn’t mean we can’t point out to China that a full scale crisis holds greater risks to them economically and politically than it does to us, and maybe dialing it back a bit might help. A steadfast refusal to submit to North Korean extortion for aid might be a good idea as well. And finally, if historians must weigh in on the matter, perhaps they should stick to reminding the Obama/Kerry foreign policy team of the parlous rates of returns that investing North Korean promises of good behavior in the past, when previous tantrums have been rewarded with food, fuel oil, and nuclear reactors.
*As opposed to nuclear strategy. Nuclear strategy is how to fight a nuclear war. Strategy in the nuclear era is how to avoid a nuclear war.
From the very day Ronald Reagan announced the goal of ballistic missile defense, critics have announced that not only would it not work, it could never be made to work. This despite the fact that an ICBM target had been intercepted 20 years before Reagan’s announcement. And if it will not and cannot be made to work, why is it China and Russia continue to develop their own anti-missile systems?
Via War News Updates
China’s PLA “sunk” a U.S. aircraft carrier during a war game in remote China using its DF-21D “Carrier Killer” missile, reports Taiwan paper Want China Times.
The China Times is a 63 year old Taiwanese paper slightly slanted toward unification, but with a solid reputation and accurate reporting.
The Times report originates with a Google Earth image published at SAORBOATS Argentinian internet forum.
The photo shows two big craters on a 600 foot platform deep in China’s Gobi desert that Chinese military testers used to simulate the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.
There has been talk of the DF-21 for years with estimates of its range, threat, and theater changing implications, but this could be the first known test of the rocket.
Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. Who knows?
The challenges any designer faces making an anti-ship ballistic missile are not trivial. First, you have to find the carrier. That’s not always easy. Eventually, yes, the carrier will likely disclose its position. But the first datum that a carrier is on station is likely to be Tomahawk and SEAD strikes against your homeland. Second, just finding a carrier isn’t localizing to the point of a firing solution. That doesn’t even begin to take into account any active countermeasures the carrier group may use. And oh, yeah, carriers move. Quite a bit. So not only must your ASBM maneuver, it will likely need a mid-course guidance update. Maybe. If not, it has to have a seeker that can detect and discriminate targets from long range so it can begin its terminal maneuvers early.
Then there are the active countermeasures. If the missile uses a radar guidance, sooner or later, we’ll learn to jam that system. If it uses infrared, we can jam that as well.
But the most likely active countermeasure is the accompanying escorts. Today, the Navy already fields a number of Aegis cruisers and destroyers fully capable of detecting, localizing, targeting, engaging and destroying medium range ballistic missiles. In fact, since the missile would be approaching the carrier group, that reduces the crossing angle of the shot, and makes it easier and gives multiple shots at a given target.
Given the already fielded anti-ballistic missile capability of our Navy, we are not terribly concerned with the DF-21D. In fact, one wonders why the Chinese would even pursue such an expensive capability, when there are other approaches far more likely to yield success. The obvious approach is the use of submarines. Our surface based Anti-Submarine Warfare capability and training have been shamefully ignored for years, as the capability of diesel electric subs worldwide has improved. Even more “asymetrical” would be an even more primitive weapon, the humble naval mine. The Chinese could lay defensive minefields in areas around their shores to deny us free use of those waters. And if they were really smart, they could use offensive minefields against the ports and harbors that forward deployed carriers depend on. A carrier may be able to spend months at sea, but it still relies on logistics ships to provide it with jet fuel, ammunition, spare parts, and food. This combat logistics train shuttles from friendly ports to the carrier group and back. Deny the navy its logistics, and you’ve denied the Navy itself. And it would only take a handful of mines in any of a number of important ports to effectively shut down operations in the Western Pacific.
Information Dissemination continues its symposium today with an interesting post from CAPT Wayne P. Hughes, USN (Ret.), a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, regarding options for a confrontation with China. A well respected naval tactician, CAPT Hughes argues, among other things, that the US Navy should field a flotilla of small, missile armed, surface combatant vessels in the area, based out of a friendly foreign port.
To this existing undersea capability I want to add a new flotilla of small missile combatants that would operate on the surface in the China Seas. The Navy should draw from foreign designs and also those tested in campaign studies and war games at NPS and the Naval War College. Our workshops suggest three prominent employments:
- Conduct hit and run raids on illegitimate Chinese seabed exploitations that are contrary to international law.
- Escort vital shipping into friendly ports, especially in the South China Sea.
- Augment Japanese patrol vessels to constrain illegal interference by China near the Senkaku Islands.
During peacetime, their presence serves as a signal of American commitment, helping to motivate peaceful resolution of disputes over economic exclusion zones, while conducting many small-ship exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Singapore.
What would the flotilla look like? In rough terms we envision individual small combatants of about 600 tons that carry about eight surface-to-surface missiles, depend on deception, soft kill, numbers, and point defense for survival, and are supported by off-board manned or unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and tactical scouting. To paint a picture of possible tactical configurations, I contemplate the smallest element to be a mutually supporting pair, a squadron to comprise eight vessels, and a deployed force of four squadrons. The entire flotilla would comprise about eight squadrons. Costing less than $100 million each, the entire force would take only a small fraction—around 4%–of the shipbuilding budget and be inexpensive to operate.
I’m generally in favor of the Navy fielding a small surface combatant. Quantity has a quality all its own. And a survey of the fleet of 1945 shows that enormous numbers of our stupendous fleet was actually composed of very modest craft, such as the 173’ PC class subchaser. They weren’t the most potent ships, but their presence allowed them to perform secondary missions, freeing up the main body of the fleet for offensive operations.
Further, in certain restricted waters, many of the shortcomings of smaller vessels compared to large blue water combatants are less important. CAPT Hughes first portion of the post addresses the impact of losses on a flotilla composed of multiple small platforms versus a task force centered around a handful of high value platforms. In engineering terms, the loss of some low end vessels from a numerous flotilla might be termed “graceful degradation.” That is, if you have a force of 8 or 16 small combatants, and lose two or four, the fundamental capabilities of the force remain, even if their total capacity has been substantially reduced. On the contrary, if you lose, say a Tico class cruiser from a task group, the fundamental capabilities of the group in terms of command and control and offensive and defensive power may be fundamentally changed.
One of the temptations when thinking of ship design and procurement is to pose the question of what to buy in terms of a ship class is to consider “force on force.” For instance, if you look to buy a small missile armed combatant, the great temptation is to look at the adversary missile boats, and build one to counter it. CAPT Hughes is wise enough to note that this is the incorrect approach. Mining the ports enemy boats operate from, and leveraging other weapons platforms such as tactical air make more sense.
China will likely use its small combatants to deny swaths of the South China Sea to major US surface combatants, constricting their freedom of maneuver that is one of the key advantages of a naval force. Still, they’ll suffer from the fact that a blue water naval force can exploit its mobility to concentrate and strike at the time and place of its choosing. The defender, on the other hand, has to defend all places at all times, diluting the effect of its large numbers of smaller combatants. Further, massing the fires of a number of small combatants is a real challenge. One or two missile boats attacking a carrier task force with anti-ship missiles is a manageable threat. Fifteen or twenty boats launching 8 missiles each becomes a much more problematic threat. The challenge for the Chinese would be to detect and localize any US force, and then mass the missile boats within range without them being destroyed, and then coordinating the actual attack in time and space. That’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.
So what roles might a small US missile combatant perform in this scenario if not as a direct counter to Chinese missile craft? First, they could perform close escort for friendly shipping, either merchant traffic, or ships from the logistical force. Second, they can block key chokepoints denying mobility to Chinese forces. Just as the Chinese might wish to constrain our maneuver, we would seek to channelize theirs. Third, our small combatant could attack Chinese merchant shipping (or alternatively, blockade them from free passage in international waters). Fourth, distributed vessels serve as distributed sensor nodes in the information domination campaign. Finally, just upping the number of combatant vessels in the theater of operations complicates an opponent’s operations, forcing them to devote resources to ISR and sea control that they otherwise would be able to apply against the main body of a US fleet. A study of US PT boat operations throughout World War II would likely show other useful roles and missions, as well as the limitations, of such a force.
I’m not entirely sold on CAPT Hughes reasoning here, or even his proposal for a flotilla of small combatants in this scenario (and be sure to read his thoughts on an Iranian scenario as well). But it strikes me as quite depressing that CAPT Hughes and many others in private forums and quasi military forums such as the USNI blog are able to cogently explain a tactical or operational scenario, propose the platforms and tactics to support them, and spark an open, frank discussion of the role of seapower and US power in the world. Contrast that with the current Navy and DoD leadership inability to give a rational explanation of what the LCS should be and how it should be used (or the F-35 or any other number of programs).
It is to weep.
The progressive neutering of the annual Pentagon China military power reports is unfortunate, as the report has been among the most authoritative sources of information on specific Chinese military capabilities in recent years. Given the People’s Liberation Army’s unwillingness to reveal this information itself, the report has been one of the few reliable sources of transparency to inform foreign analysts, scholars, and citizens about important Chinese military developments that often have global repercussions. China has experienced important military and security changes over the past year, yet aside from its reformatted font and graphics, the 2012 report proves thin on new content.
I vividly recall reading the annual report on the Soviets from the 1980s. Each year, it was a concise, well written explanation of the Soviet military, from their strategic aims, to the basics of their organization and equipment. For the lay reader, it was the go to source for understanding the potential threat we faced.
That the government cannot seem to produce a similar guide to the Chinese is disturbing. I’ve seen past editions, and they were a poor substitute for the old Soviet books.
One wonders, just who is neutering the publishing process?
What do you think?
H/T: Eddiebear over at H2.
The US has long maintained that it has complete freedom of navigation in international waters and airspace. That is, when nations claim certain waters outside the traditional 12 mile boundary as territorial waters, the US very rarely acknowledges that claim, and indeed will often conduct operations in those waters and airspace to emphasize the point. One example was the “Line of Death” that Libya claimed in the Gulf of Sidra. The US conducted air and sea operations in those waters on a regular basis. When the Libyans reacted with armed force, the US reacted violently.
Now comes word the Chinese are becoming obnoxious again, this time harrassing the USNS Impeccable in the South China Sea. China in many ways regards the SCS as their back yard. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them claim them as territorial waters, but they certainly think of it as their spere of influence.
The Impeccable is a ship owned by the Navy, but operated by civilians, as opposed to being a warship. Her mission is to gather accoustic intelligence on submarines. It may be that the Chinese chose this moment to interfere with her in order to frustrate some particular intel gathering opportunity. Or they may just have felt like being a pain. It is hard to tell.
Of course, this has shades of the incident in 2001 when Chinese fighters harrassed a US Navy EP-3E conducting operations over the South China Sea. When things got out of hand and the fighter collided with the US plane, the EP-3 crew had to make an emergency landing at Hainan Island, which is sovreign Chinese soil. And the Chinese of course, made getting both the crew, and later the EP-3 itself, a major hassle.
So, is China just being its usual obnoxious self, or are they testing the new President?