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 a new report.
The 2014 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended to Congress the U.S. Navy respond by building more ships and increase its presence in the Pacific region – a strategy they U.S. military has already started.
The commission asked Congress to increase its Pacific fleet up to 67 ships and rebalance homeports such that 60-percent of the force is based in the region by 2020.
Opponents to this strategy point out that the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers, the Chinese have one. And that one carrier still lacks an aircraft wing capable of operating off a carrier deck.
The commission cites a platforms and weapons systems the Chinese are developing, which change the strategic calculus regarding how U.S. carriers and surface ships might need to operate in the region. The report mentions the Chinese DF-21D, a precision-guided, land-launched anti-ship ballistic missile designed to reach surface targets at ranges greater than 900 nautical miles.
“China is pursuing a missile-centric strategy with the purpose of holding U.S. aircraft carriers at high risk if they operate in China’s near seas and thereby hinder their access to those waters in the event of a crisis. Given China’s growing navy and the U.S. Navy’s planned decline in the size of its fleet, the balance of power and presence in the region is shifting in China’s favor,” the commission states.
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, cited the increase in submarine and surface navy patrols tripling since 2007 as an area of concern.
“What they are doing with patrols is just the tip of the iceberg. It is not just the number of the ships, but within five to eight years they will have about 82 submarines in the Asia Pacific area and we will have about 32 to 34,” he said.
“If you look at where we are today, they outnumber us about 60 to 32 in subs. If you look at their surface ships they can get us further out with their anti-ship missiles than we can hit them,” Forbes said.
The Chinese have used cyber espionage of the U.S. military to boost their weapons development programs, the report said. In particular, the review cited a 2012 Defense Science Board report which explains how Chinese cyber spying resulted in their learning details on a number of U.S. systems such as the Littoral Combat Ship, F-35, FA/18, Black Hawk helicopter, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, Patriot and Global Hawk.
Chinese Naval Power
While Chinese naval technology may still be substantially behind current U.S. platforms, the equation could change dramatically over the next several decades because the Chinese are reportedly working on a handful of high-tech next-generation ships, weapons and naval platforms.
The commission also specifically addresses areas of Chinese-Russian military developmental cooperation, saying the two countries are working on a joint deal to build new attack submarines.
In addition, China is reportedly pursuing a new class of nuclear submarines, called the Type 095 SSGN, which could bring the country its first-ever submarine-launched, land-attack cruise missile.
Full article: Report: Chinese Navy’s Fleet Will Outnumber U.S. by 2020 (DefenseTech)