The People’s Liberation Army Navy last week held large-scale military exercises in the East China and South China seas, according to Sina’s military news web portal.
The targets of the two military exercises were not announced in the PLA press release. Military affairs websites have suggested that the South China Sea exercise is likely aimed at territory within what China calls the “first island chain” — the term the Chinese military uses to refer to the string of archipelagos extending from the Kuril islands south through Japan and its Ryukyu islands, Taiwan and the Philippines — likely in preparation for a potential scenario in which a US aircraft carrier war fleet break through the first island chain. Although this is a reasonable assumption, in a real combat scenario, relying on anti-ship missiles, conventional submarine-launched missiles and air-launched cruise missiles with a range of just 300 kilometers to take on a carrier fleet means that all the warships, planes and submarines would have to penetrate the carrier fleet’s outer defenses and approach its inner defenses to fire their payload. This kind of scenario is hard to imagine playing out in reality, given the naval power of the US.
Reports on the exercise included the following paragraph:
“In the exercise, the [enemy] blue army troops attacked the red army ships with ballistic missiles. Several supersonic anti-ship missiles attacked the red army ships from different directions and different altitudes. The red army early warning system was able to identify the sources of the attacks; however, they were then subject to electronic interference from the blue army. The red army fleet immediately launched anti-electronic interference measures and rapidly locked on targets. Ballistic missiles were then launched from the [Guangzhou-class] Wuhan [Type 052B destroyer] and the [Type 054A Jiangkai II-class] Hengyang [frigate] which intercepted the attacking missiles, leading them to explode in mid-air.”
This suggests that one of the most important objectives of this exercise was the interception of supersonic missiles, but both the US McDonnell Douglas Harpoon anti-ship missile currently in use and the stealthy Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) currently under development in the US are both subsonic and in addition to this the US Navy also makes use of a range of guided bombs. This suggests that the exercise is unlikely to have had the US in mind as a potential target.
Full article: PLA targets Vietnam in S China Sea exercise, US in E China Sea (Want China Times)