China's SCS Strategy Thread


duncanidaho

Junior Member
What about Yongxing Dao (Woody Island)? Is the airfield on the island operable for military aircrafts? Are there any plans for a military upgrades of the facility?

From Yongxing Dao to the farthest point of the Spratly Islands is approximately 1000 km, is it capable to provide aircover from Yongxing Dao?
 

thunderchief

Senior Member
Without direct military help from other countries , I don't think Vietnam would confront China in Paracel Islands. China has control over them and considering geography and strength ratio there is nothing much Vietnam can do by force .

Spratly Islands are different matter . Vietnam could risk limited land war against China in the north , simply because they expect same outcome as in 1979. - China goes in , China goes out , with no territorial changes . In such circumstances , they could pull most of their air force to south , leaving air defense of north to SAMs . Airfields in South Vietnam are mostly out of the range of PLAAF except with cruise or ballistic missiles , but they could reasonable well prepare for that . With sufficient number of Flankers concentrated in the south , they could give Liaoning's air group run for its money , especially if they acquire more (those on order are good start ) .
 

Scyth

Junior Member
Re: PLAN Aircraft Carrier programme..News & Views

Just a couple of points.

The map you used looks like it starts from Haikou which is 200km further than the airbases on southern Hainan.

So the distances of 1200-1500km become 1000-1300km.

I'm thinking that the carrier MTOW for a J-15 is really low, so even having a buddy tanker isn't going to fill up its entire fuel capacity.
Whereas a land-based J-11 has a higher fuel capacity and can top off from dedicated tankers to make up for the longer distances.

I'm coming up with costs for the SCS mission as follows:

Carrier Based

$1.6 Billion for 30x J-15 fighters
$7.4 Billion for an aircraft carrier plus escorts

Total: $9 Billion

Land Based

$3.2 Billion for 60x J-11 fighters (2x more fighters to make up for the longer distances)
$1.6 Billion for 30x IL-78 tankers

Total: $4.8 Billion

Of course there are more variables like operating costs etc, but we can already see there is a huge difference in upfront procurement costs.

Developing a conformal fuel tank for the J-11 might also be an option, instead of relying on as many dedicated tankers.

I also take your point about flexibility and surprise for carrier-based aircraft, but there would be a lot more land-based aircraft to make up for this.

===

Plus Vietnam can barely afford to run the 36 Flankers that they have, so how many can they to divert to the SCS, given that the primary mission is along the Vietnamese-Chinese border?

I also discount whether Vietnam would dare to torpedo and sink a Chinese aircraft carrier.
If that sort of escalation were to happen, I don't see how Vietnam can avoid the Chinese Air Force flying over the skies of Hanoi.

Those 60 J-11s based in Hainan might be able to obtain air superiority over Hanoi all by themselves, given that there are only 36 flankers plus numerous Mig-21s and Su-22s.
It's very difficult to derive an useful comparison. Like you said, there are many other costs involved. However, this estimate is very skewed towards the land base option.
You should also take into account the spendings needed for a base on land. You need a runway, hangar and in wartime some SAMs as well as other defence measures. This would increase the cost figure for the land base.

Right now, you are comparing a floating airbase with protection to an unprotected non-airbase (you'd at least need to purchase a strip of ground and build a runway on it). However, I'd agree that a land base is somewhat cheaper than a CSG, because otherwise, we logically would've seen carrier defense counter air groups at homeports.

But calculating the usefulness of a CSG based on costs alone ignores one of the tactical advantages that a moving airbase has. It is continually on the move, so you'll need to detect and keep track of it before you can attack it.

Even if the J-15s from Liaoning can only be used in a airsuperiorty role (although light/ medium ground attack should be possible), it gives China the ability to park a carrier somewhere and use it to provide extra air cover for (fighter-)bombers from mainland.
 
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Cheng

New Member
Re: PLAN Aircraft Carrier programme..News & Views

It's very difficult to derive an useful comparison. Like you said, there are many other costs involved. However, this estimate is very skewed towards the land base option.
You should also take into account the spendings needed for a base on land. You need a runway, hangar and in wartime some SAMs as well as other defence measures. This would increase the cost figure for the land base.

Right now, you are comparing a floating airbase with protection to an unprotected non-airbase (you'd at least need to purchase a strip of ground and build a runway on it). However, I'd agree that a land base is somewhat cheaper than a CSG, because otherwise, we logically would've seen carrier defense counter air groups at homeports.

But calculating the usefulness of a CSG based on costs alone ignores one of the tactical advantages that a moving airbase has. It is continually on the move, so you'll need to detect and keep track of it before you can attack it.

Even if the J-15s from Liaoning can only be used in a airsuperiorty role (although light/ medium ground attack should be possible), it gives China the ability to park a carrier somewhere and use it to provide extra air cover for (fighter-)bombers from mainland.
We've seen that the US has given up on defending vulnerable fixed airbases, and has gone with dispersed packages of 4 Raptors. So China probably has similar plans, given that it has historically operated on the assumption that its airbases would be under attack.

China also has a number of spare airbase capacity as its air fleet has downsized, just like everybody else in the world

I also forgot that you need 3 ships in order to keep 1 on station at any time.

Therefore the revised figures are as follows:

Total Costs

3x Carrier groups each with 30x J-15 : $27 Billion
Airbase with 60x J-11 : $4.8 Billion

With that sort of cost disparity, it makes sense to use land-based aircraft whenever you can.
 
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Jeff Head

General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Re: PLAN Aircraft Carrier programme..News & Views

We've seen that the US has given up on defending vulnerable fixed airbases.
What? Please provide a link to strong documentation for this statement.

The US has numerous air bases all over the world and has certainly not "given up," on defending them.

So China probably has similar plans, given that it has historically operated on the assumption that its airbases would be under attack.
I believe you are basing a supposed Chinese action on a flawed assumption about US Air Bases. Not that China's decision in any case will be predicated necessarily on what the US does.

Cheng said:
I also forgot that you need 3 ships in order to keep 1 on station at any time.
Two is the umber if you want to get down to what you absolutely have to have. With two, the only times you may have durations where you do not have one available is when one of thjem is in for a long overhaul. Otherwise, for the normal maintemamce cycles you can get by with scehduling the other to cover those periods. As it is, for the PLAN this will not apply because they ultimately are going to have more than two.

Cheng said:
With that sort of cost disparity, it makes sense to use land-based aircraft whenever you can.
The carrier group is far more flexible, it can get to places and come at them in a maner that land based air cannot, and/or would have a more difficult time maintaining presence there, and it is well defended, even in the event it is found.

All of that adds to the cost benefit ratio. The fact is, every maritime power that can afford any type of aircraft carrier is building them...even in the austere times in which we live...from STOVL carriers, to STOBAR to CATOBAR. They are doing so because they see the benefit of being able to have that mobile airfield over basing everything on land.

China will end up with more than two carriers. Probably four or five. She is embarking on this path precisely because she sees the benefit, and is developing the poliies and operational procedures and metrics on how they will be utilized and applied with the Liaoning.
 

jacksprat

New Member
Mr Head - I do understand that naval gunfire would be most effective against the islands/outposts in the Spratlys if uncontested. I also understand the China's South Sea fleet, by itself, is pretty much quantitatively and qualitatively superior to any to the regional navies and even several of them, less Vietnam, combined. Not to mention those few outposts that are manned by non-Chinese forces are armed with not much more than point defense, crew served weapons.
Hell an attack helicopter could wipe most of them off the face of the earth.

Switching subjects slightly, please wake me up when Vietnam actually has a fleet of KILO class submarines, fully equipped, manned by competent crews and fully integrated into their operational forces. Everybody is talking like that is just around the corner when in fact it will be a least a decade or more away, they haven't even got the first one in country yet. Until then they are not much of a threat. It takes a highly competent crew and a very aggressive maintenance/quieting program and sound tactics, techniques and procedures to make the KILO or any other boat an effective weapon/platform and there are very few countries in the world capable of optimizing the KILOs potential, possibly not even China. Lack of any of those things and the threat posed by the KILO or similar weapons platforms begins to degrade rather quickly, especially as the individual units age.

My apologies if my pragmatism and cynicism cloud my opinions, but not everything thing works out as envisioned by the planners and dreamers.
 

Jeff Head

General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Switching subjects slightly, please wake me up when Vietnam actually has a fleet of KILO class submarines, fully equipped, manned by competent crews and fully integrated into their operational forces. Everybody is talking like that is just around the corner when in fact it will be a least a decade or more away, they haven't even got the first one in country yet. Until then they are not much of a threat. It takes a highly competent crew and a very aggressive maintenance/quieting program and sound tactics, techniques and procedures to make the KILO or any other boat an effective weapon/platform and there are very few countries in the world capable of optimizing the KILOs potential.

My apologies if my pragmatism and cynicism cloud my opinions, but not everything thing works out as envisioned by the planners and dreamers.
Well, they have
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and it is sailing to Cam Ranh Bay as we speak to arrive in January. It is crewed by a Vietnamese crew who has been training since April. The second should arrive there just 3 months later, also crewed by Vietnamese.

Clearly, it will take years for them to become competent with these vessels.

It will also take years for the Chinese to become competent with their carrier(s) and air wings. So, they (and a bunch of other nations) are on the same type of time lines.

The fact is, they have purchased them, are being trained, are taking delivery of them, and their crews are working up.

That's a significant set of steps beyond dreaming about them.

My point is simple...as we move forward, any OPFOR with disputes with Vietnam in the SCS will have to take this developing force into account.

That is all. You are very right and justified to be pragmatic about that.
 

Geographer

Junior Member
China controls many submerged reefs in the Spratly Islands but no islands. Would it nevertheless be feasible for China to build an airport on one of the reefs through land reclamation? Malaysia, the Philippines, and China (Woody Island) have all built runways on tiny islands by building up the reef.
 

Lezt

Junior Member
Well, they have
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and it is sailing to Cam Ranh Bay as we speak to arrive in January. It is crewed by a Vietnamese crew who has been training since April. The second should arrive there just 3 months later, also crewed by Vietnamese.

Clearly, it will take years for them to become competent with these vessels.

It will also take years for the Chinese to become competent with their carrier(s) and air wings. So, they (and a bunch of other nations) are on the same type of time lines.

The fact is, they have purchased them, are being trained, are taking delivery of them, and their crews are working up.

That's a significant set of steps beyond dreaming about them.

My point is simple...as we move forward, any OPFOR with disputes with Vietnam in the SCS will have to take this developing force into account.

That is all. You are very right and justified to be pragmatic about that.
On a side note, how many ports can handle the Kilos? With an endurance of 45 days; the destruction of naval facilities will fairly quickly render these boats... reduced in capability.
 

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