Tag Archives: china

Patrol Planes in the South China Sea

For years, there have been tensions between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea, particularly in the region of the Sprately Islands. There have also been tensions between the US and China over operations in the same region, among others.  The US recognizes no Chinese sovreignity over the disputed areas, and maintains its rights to freedom of navigation in the area. And to do so, they regularly exercise those rights, often via Maritime Patrol Aircraft such as the P-8A Poseidon. Recently, to show how this plays out, a US Navy P-8A brought along a CNN crew to show just what is involved.

China is unlikely to be so rash as to actually attack an American military aircraft. On the other hand, you don’t have to go too terribly far back into the Cold War to find incidents where they did just that, costing American lives.


Via Alert 5


Filed under China, navy

Your Weekend Reading Assignment- The ONI Assessment of the People’s Liberation Army Navy

The Office of Naval Intelligence has issued an assessment of the Chinese Navy (often referred to as PLAN) as well as its various Coast Guard type quasimilitary adjuncts.

Here’s some helpful graphics showing ship classes as well.

One more.

There’ll be a quiz shortly after Load HEAT on Monday.

H/T to Spill

1 Comment

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CAIC WZ-10 in Pakistan

Recently China has provided the WZ-10 attack helicopter to Pakistan to help defend and police it’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).bThe WZ-10 is replacing the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter operated by the Pakistani Army. Replacement has given us a first time opportunity to see the WZ-10 up close (photos courtesy of the China Defense Blog):




Filed under army, Defense, helicopters, war, weapons

PLA Navy tests new refueling pod for J-15 carrier fighter|Politics|News|WantChinaTimes.com

Having successfully copied the Russian-built UPAZ-1A aerial refueling pod, China’s PLA Navy can refuel a J-15 carrier-based fighter in midair in 5.3 minutes, the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies said on Jan. 22.

via PLA Navy tests new refueling pod for J-15 carrier fighter|Politics|News|WantChinaTimes.com.

Spill’s on a bit of an air-to-air refueling history kick right now, so I thought I’d share this. Carrier aircraft almost inevitably use probe and drogue refueling. Our land based friends tend to use boom and receptacle, because it was designed for large bomber type aircraft. Booms also have much higher fuel transfer rates. But they require a large dedicated tanker, such as the KC-135. Obviously, you can’t fit one of those on a carrier. So probe and drogue it is.

There’s primarily two types of tanking in naval air, mission tanking, and recovery tanking. Mission tanking is used to extend the endurance or range of strike aircraft for a given mission. Recovery tanking is simply topping off returning aircraft to give them more time to land aboard ship, for instance, if the recovery is delayed by a foul deck or the pilot is having his turn in the barrel and repeatedly boltering (failing to arrest during his landing).

The US Navy used to have dedicated KA-3B and KA-6D tankers in its air wings, which carried sufficient fuel to perform both tanking missions pretty well. Today, the tankers of the air wing are simply F/A-18 E and F SuperHornets that have a buddy refueling pod slapped on. The long, long flights required to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and a few other places also means the Navy has increasingly had to rely on tanker support from the Air Force for mission tanking. KC-135s have an adapter to put a basket on the end of their boom.

Tanking is, like landing upon a carrier, one of those incredibly difficult feats of airmanship that naval aviators simply must become proficient in as a matter of routine, or they are useless to the fleet.

For the Chinese, this is especially so. The ski-jump take off they use on their carrier greatly limits the gross weight a fighter can take off with. If the fighter is going to carry a useful load of weapons, that means much less than full fuel can be carried. Hence the need for a refueling pod. Just how much one J-15 (essentially a Chinese carrier capable version of the Russian Su-33) can transfer is an open question. But a little bit of giveaway fuel is a whole lot better than none.

An UPAZ-1A aerial refueling pod on a Russian Su-24 fighter bomber. (Internet photo)

UPAZ-1A Refueling pod under Russian Su-24. Presumably the Chinese derivative is similar in appearance.

Comments Off on PLA Navy tests new refueling pod for J-15 carrier fighter|Politics|News|WantChinaTimes.com

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The Real Military Threat from China: Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles | The National Interest

“Air-Sea Battle” with Chinese Characteristics: a large fleet of land-based aircraft armed with some of the world’s most advanced anti-ship cruise missiles.

Lyle J. Goldstein

January 22, 2015


During the 1982 Falklands War, Argentina possessed a measly total of five Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles with which to face down the Royal Navy in the South Atlantic. Had that number been more like 50 or 100, that conflict might well have had a very different ending. This important lesson has not been lost on China’s military chiefs. Indeed, China has placed great emphasis on anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) development over the last three decades and is now set to reap the strategic benefits of this singular focus.

via The Real Military Threat from China: Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles | The National Interest.

Mr. Goldstein is indeed correct that large inventory of Chinese ASCM present a greater threat to US surface fleets in the Western Pacific than probably any other single Chinese weapon system.

But his analysis is too focused on the arrows in the quiver, and not enough on the eye of the Archer.

The huge numbers of cruise missiles are useless if rather precise information is lacking on the location, course, and speed of the intended target. And for all of China’s impressive improvements in maritime strike capability over the last three decades, their investments in maritime patrol aircraft and other targeting systems seem decidedly lacking.

To be sure, to influence the course of events ashore, a power projection navy such as ours must eventually close the coast, coming within easy sensor range of an enemy. But the great virtue of seapower here is the initiative to choose the time and place for such strikes.

That’s not to say the US Navy should simply assume it can easily better the Chinese. It shouldn’t. But it is a caution to the reader to not magnify the threat beyond all reason.


Filed under China, navy

The Next Wave of Chinese Expansion

When we look at aggressive Chinese actions, we tend to see them in terms of the South China Sea, and the first island chain. That is, in the far reaches of the western Pacific Ocean.

Writing at The Diplomat, David Brewster takes a look at Chinese efforts to extend their influence not to their east, but rather to the west, in the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal.

Since late 2013, Beijing has been promoting its “Maritime Silk Route” (MSR) initiative as a proposed oceanic complement to its various overland “Silk Route” projects. Details remain sketchy, but the proposal appears to envisage a system of linked ports, infrastructure projects and special economic zones in Southeast Asia and the northern Indian Ocean. While much of the public discussion to date has focused on ports and infrastructure, probably of greater significance is the development of new production and distribution chains across the region, with China at its center. The concept might be seen as akin to Japan’s “flying geese” strategy of the 1970s when Japanese companies outsourced component production to successive tiers of lower-cost states in Southeast Asia.

This actually makes a fair amount of sense, and while the Chinese might resort to bullying and aggressive behavior, it isn’t necessarily so.

China’s massive economic growth in the last 40 years was largely financed by selling very cheap goods to America. Not solely, but largely. But that is changing. First, the market is saturated, with poor prospects for growth. And China desperately needs to continue economic growth or risk internal instability. Second, the growth in the Chinese economy has raised the standard of living, meaning that the very tool they used to achieve growth, dirt cheap labor, is no longer available. On the plus side, however, their manufacturing infrastructure and their pool of talent has grown.

The Bay nations have a large pool of low skilled, extremely cheap labor. China can seek to establish trade with those nations, buying the sort of cheap goods they formerly exported to us, now for their own domestic consumption, a prices cheaper than their own production can achieve. And the Chinese can then export to those Bay nation goods that they previously could not afford.

The Chinese Maritime Silk Road can be seen as a form of soft colonialism, or as embracing trade as a mutually beneficial means of economic growth and a path to prosperity.

Brewster’s article reasonably looks at Chinese attempts to gain access to ports and other facilities for military applications. Which, from a Chinese perspective is entirely reasonable.  The Royal Navy didn’t grow to span the globe just because. It grew to protect the international trade of the British Empire. So too can one see the Chinese Navy protecting its trade routes, particularly when the post-war guarantor of maritime security, the United States Navy, is shrinking, and less and less able to exert its influences in areas such as the Bay of Bengal. 


Filed under China

PLAN in Action

The Chinese Navy, long known as the People’s Liberation Army Navy, is undergoing a massive shipbuilding campaign to modernize. Long seen as a technologically backwards coastal force, it is attempting to build a modern blue water regional force. It has made great strides, but still has large numbers of legacy platforms in service.

Here’s a pretty interesting look at Chinese operations.


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