Future PLAN naval and carrier operations


Bltizo

Lieutenant General
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A) Yes, let's not forget China has plenty of land borders to secure as well as maritime borders. It is reasonable to assume, as has been demonstrated in real life, that China's neighbors will improve their own capabilities as China's improves and at the same time other parties will seek to improve China's neighbors' capabilities as well as foment mistrust and tensions with China.
Of course it is reasonable to expect that China's neighbours with which disputes exist, will likely improve their own capabilities over time, just as China improves its own capabilities.

However, is it reasonable to expect that China's neighbours will improve their capabiilities at the same pace or scale as China improves its own?

I'm not so sure about that one -- I think it is not unreasonable to believe that the sustained growth rate of China's capabilities over time will result in a growing gap between China's own capabilities and that of its neighbours with which it may have poor relations.

I suppose much of our disagreement comes down to how powerful we believe China will aim to become or want to become over time.


B) No, due to the constraints of (A) above, (C) and (D) below.

C) Doesn't mean I can't use it to describe China's overall strategy regarding great power conflicts which ultimately but not solely comes down to their nuclear minimal deterrence. As such this is one of the areas where we disagree.
In this case I have to disagree with C), because we have no evidence to suggest that China's doctrine towards great power conventional conflicts is minimal deterrence.

We know that China's recent past nuclear doctrine was one of minimal deterrence, this is well documented.

But I have no idea where you believed that China's conventional capabilities also followed a conventional "minimal deterrence" type strategy. Can you describe your logic behind why you believe China is seeking "conventional minimal deterrence"? Because I see nothing in Chinese govt statements regarding their aspirations for the PLA, nor their weapons procurementsand modernization, to suggest they would be happy with anything in line with "conventional minimal deterrence".

If anything, I would argue China's overall strategy for great power conflict, when divided between nuclear and conventional capability, can be described as "minimal nuclear deterrence + conventional parity (seeking superiority)" -- and even minimal nuclear deterrence is not a given going into the future.



(D) What you are saying is not what I said. I said "fulfilling the basing requirements of such expeditionary capabilities is actual colonialism, intervention, or full scale war in the first place, see the cases of Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii, South Korea, Japan, etc." as in that is a requirement to achieving such a degree of expeditionary capabilities.
Wait -- so you're saying for China to acquire the capabilities I described -- i.e.: having the ability to fight a high intensity great power conflict in the overall western pacific -- requires China to have basing requirements?

I don't understand why that would be the case, and I've never suggested that China needs expeditionary bases to be able to fight a high intensity great power conflict in the western pacific. Of course, such bases would certainly be useful, and if the course of a conflict means China was able to acquire bases deeper in the western pacific in the early stages of a war to support a high intensity conflict in the western pacific later in the same war then sure, why not.

But I am talking about having the organic assets and capabilities to fight such a conflict, without acquiring any additional territory beyond what China has today.
 
Of course it is reasonable to expect that China's neighbours with which disputes exist, will likely improve their own capabilities over time, just as China improves its own capabilities.

However, is it reasonable to expect that China's neighbours will improve their capabiilities at the same pace or scale as China improves its own?

I'm not so sure about that one -- I think it is not unreasonable to believe that the sustained growth rate of China's capabilities over time will result in a growing gap between China's own capabilities and that of its neighbours with which it may have poor relations.

I suppose much of our disagreement comes down to how powerful we believe China will aim to become or want to become over time.

In this case I have to disagree with C), because we have no evidence to suggest that China's doctrine towards great power conventional conflicts is minimal deterrence.

We know that China's recent past nuclear doctrine was one of minimal deterrence, this is well documented.

But I have no idea where you believed that China's conventional capabilities also followed a conventional "minimal deterrence" type strategy. Can you describe your logic behind why you believe China is seeking "conventional minimal deterrence"? Because I see nothing in Chinese govt statements regarding their aspirations for the PLA, nor their weapons procurementsand modernization, to suggest they would be happy with anything in line with "conventional minimal deterrence".

If anything, I would argue China's overall strategy for great power conflict, when divided between nuclear and conventional capability, can be described as "minimal nuclear deterrence + conventional parity (seeking superiority)" -- and even minimal nuclear deterrence is not a given going into the future.

Wait -- so you're saying for China to acquire the capabilities I described -- i.e.: having the ability to fight a high intensity great power conflict in the overall western pacific -- requires China to have basing requirements?

I don't understand why that would be the case, and I've never suggested that China needs expeditionary bases to be able to fight a high intensity great power conflict in the western pacific. Of course, such bases would certainly be useful, and if the course of a conflict means China was able to acquire bases deeper in the western pacific in the early stages of a war to support a high intensity conflict in the western pacific later in the same war then sure, why not.

But I am talking about having the organic assets and capabilities to fight such a conflict, without acquiring any additional territory beyond what China has today.
I agree that we disagree on how powerful China will become, and probably how much other great powers will be undermining China's homeland security both directly and via China's neighbors. We also disagree on the sustainability, necessity, effectiveness as deterrence, and extent to which China can develop an expeditionary capability. Without additional distant territories nor new reliable allies I don't think China can sustain the type of expeditionary capability you described.

China maintains conventional minimal deterrence with great powers in the sense that they did not intervene in the Korean civil war until it was clear the US was bent on and on the verge of a complete defeat of North Korea, they did not intervene more and more directly in the Vietnamese civil war when both France and the US were heavily directly intervening, they have not based bombers, fleets, missiles, or troops nor conducted military exercises in say Cuba that can meaningfully threaten the US while US bases, forces, exercises, and actions which do meaningfully threaten China surround China's periphery and have been done repeatedly, etc.
 

Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Registered Member
I agree that we disagree on how powerful China will become, and probably how much other great powers will be undermining China's homeland security both directly and via China's neighbors. We also disagree on the sustainability, necessity, effectiveness as deterrence, and extent to which China can develop an expeditionary capability. Without additional distant territories nor new reliable allies I don't think China can sustain the type of expeditionary capability you described.
Okay, that is fine.

Out of interest, indulge me, and could you describe to me what kind of number of carriers, destroyers, frigates, amphibious assault ships, and SSNs you think the PLAN should be aiming for by say, the mid 2030s to follow with your belief of what Chinese strategy would be.


China maintains conventional minimal deterrence with great powers in the sense that they did not intervene in the Korean civil war until it was clear the US was bent on and on the verge of a complete defeat of North Korea, they did not intervene more and more directly in the Vietnamese civil war when both France and the US were heavily directly intervening, they have not based bombers, fleets, missiles, or troops nor conducted military exercises in say Cuba that can meaningfully threaten the US while US bases, forces, exercises, and actions which do meaningfully threaten China surround China's periphery and have been done repeatedly, etc.
I'm not sure if your logic works here, on the basis that those instances were not what one would consider to be conventional minimal deterrence because when China did ultimately intervene (in particular in Korea) they fielded a non-substantial force.
There are also a number of cases whereby China have been more willing to use military force that does not fit with your described pattern of "intervening in immediate periphery only when opponents are significantly intervening as well" -- for example, the Sino-Indian war or the Sino-Vietnam war.

Perhaps more importantly, I think it is not logical to try and project Chinese capabilities during most of the Cold War to predict what Chinese capabilities may be like in the 21st century going forwards, because Chinese strategic interests and doctrine during most of the Cold War are also significantly different to even Chinese strategic interests and doctrine today, let alone what we may start seeing by the mid 21st century.

During the bulk of the Cold War, Chinese strategic interests were actually oriented towards facing the USSR, and China was in a state of significant technological backwardness that was reflected in the PLA as well. So I'm not sure if the PRC could ever have been said to sought "conventional minimal deterrence," because that makes it sound like they sought only minimal conventional military capabilities with the option of greater capabilities if they wanted to, when in reality it was that they didn't have the economy or the technology to support the option of acquiring better capabilities in the first place.


Putting it another way, I think strategic and military doctrine is something that is shaped by one's strategic interests as well as the totality of their potential military capabilities (which in turn is derived from their economic power, industrial power, technology, etc).

Chinese doctrine during the Cold War was mostly oriented towards the USSR, where China suffered from significant economic and technological backwardness and an overall inability to compete in those domains.
However, Chinese interests today are much different and much wider than during the Cold War, and arguably much more ambitious, but also with a much more capable economic and technological base to support those interests and allow the development of a different doctrine as well.
 
Okay, that is fine.

Out of interest, indulge me, and could you describe to me what kind of number of carriers, destroyers, frigates, amphibious assault ships, and SSNs you think the PLAN should be aiming for by say, the mid 2030s to follow with your belief of what Chinese strategy would be.
That would be indulgent on your part as I haven't seen you dive into the details of what you envision yourself, which I would appreciate in return. If you already have somewhere in this forum please link, I may have missed it since sometimes I drop off from following this forum as well as Chinese military affairs in general.

I would go so far as to add more detail to what I have said on multiple occasions in this forum, that China needs 6 carriers (as part of 6 complete CBGs) to fulfill its homeland defense needs as of now, defined as reliable conventional MAD with all coastal countries (and any foreign forces based in them) throughout the entire 1st island chain, holding the current capabilities of these countries and the typically deployed level of foreign forces constant.

I'm not sure if your logic works here, on the basis that those instances were not what one would consider to be conventional minimal deterrence because when China did ultimately intervene (in particular in Korea) they fielded a non-substantial force.

There are also a number of cases whereby China have been more willing to use military force that does not fit with your described pattern of "intervening in immediate periphery only when opponents are significantly intervening as well" -- for example, the Sino-Indian war or the Sino-Vietnam war.
Not sure what you mean in your first sentence above regarding China fielding a non-substantial force. Nor is the direction you seem to be going what I would consider conventional minimal deterrence in great power conflicts.

The Sino-Indian and Sino-Vietnam wars are not "great power conflicts" but a territorial and a regional balance of power conflict of different natures.

Perhaps more importantly, I think it is not logical to try and project Chinese capabilities during most of the Cold War to predict what Chinese capabilities may be like in the 21st century going forwards, because Chinese strategic interests and doctrine during most of the Cold War are also significantly different to even Chinese strategic interests and doctrine today, let alone what we may start seeing by the mid 21st century.

During the bulk of the Cold War, Chinese strategic interests were actually oriented towards facing the USSR, and China was in a state of significant technological backwardness that was reflected in the PLA as well. So I'm not sure if the PRC could ever have been said to sought "conventional minimal deterrence," because that makes it sound like they sought only minimal conventional military capabilities with the option of greater capabilities if they wanted to, when in reality it was that they didn't have the economy or the technology to support the option of acquiring better capabilities in the first place.

Putting it another way, I think strategic and military doctrine is something that is shaped by one's strategic interests as well as the totality of their potential military capabilities (which in turn is derived from their economic power, industrial power, technology, etc).

Chinese doctrine during the Cold War was mostly oriented towards the USSR, where China suffered from significant economic and technological backwardness and an overall inability to compete in those domains.
However, Chinese interests today are much different and much wider than during the Cold War, and arguably much more ambitious, but also with a much more capable economic and technological base to support those interests and allow the development of a different doctrine as well.
While I agree that conditions and doctrines change I disagree with your characterization of strategic doctrine where the diplomatic aspect is not considered and your view of conventional minimal deterrence. I'm just going to agree to disagree for now since I don't have time to discuss this further this moment.
 

Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Registered Member
That would be indulgent on your part as I haven't seen you dive into the details of what you envision yourself, which I would appreciate in return. If you already have somewhere in this forum please link, I may have missed it since sometimes I drop off from following this forum as well as Chinese military affairs in general.
Of course I'm willing to reciprocate lol, but you didn't ask me before

By 2035, for the Navy's primary combat force I'd envision...
a carrier force of at least 6-7 carriers, of which at least 4-5 are CATOBAR
an amphibious assault force of at least 10-12 LPDs and 4-6 LHDs
a combined destroyer force (both large 055 family and medium 052C/D/E) of at least 50-60
a combined frigate force (054A, 054B, and future family) of at least 50-60
an SSN force preferably of 20-30 modern/competitive SSN/GNs
an SSK force preferably similar in number today, but all modern, with AIP
a green water corvette (056/A family or slightly larger) force of 60+ modern ships

This doesn't include land based naval aviation like MPAs, UAVs, land based strike aircraft or ISR and AEW&C aircraft
And of course I don't consider air force, rocket force or army orbat either.



I would go so far as to add more detail to what I have said on multiple occasions in this forum, that China needs 6 carriers (as part of 6 complete CBGs) to fulfill its homeland defense needs as of now, defined as reliable conventional MAD with all coastal countries (and any foreign forces based in them) throughout the entire 1st island chain, holding the current capabilities of these countries and the typically deployed level of foreign forces constant.
I'd be interested in a more detailed breakdown similar to mine above if you'd have the time.



Not sure what you mean in your first sentence above regarding China fielding a non-substantial force. Nor is the direction you seem to be going what I would consider conventional minimal deterrence in great power conflicts.

The Sino-Indian and Sino-Vietnam wars are not "great power conflicts" but a territorial and a regional balance of power conflict of different natures.
By "non-substantial force" I'm saying that China's entry into the Korean war for example, was not exactly "minimal". I.e.: "minimal conventional deterrence" means that one's own conventional capabilities by extension must be minimal.



While I agree that conditions and doctrines change I disagree with your characterization of strategic doctrine where the diplomatic aspect is not considered and your view of conventional minimal deterrence.
Okay, in that case I should add that for all of my descriptions and projections of Chinese strategic doctrine, that diplomacy would of course play the primary role in seeking to advance Chinese geopolitical interests, as it does for basically every nation or state that's existed.

My overall thrust is that Chinese strategic interests today and into the future, and China's potential military capabilities today and into the future, are very different to the strategic interests and potential military capabilities China had during the Cold War, therefore it is likely to expect Chinese strategic and military doctrine today and into the future to be very different from what Chinese strategic and military doctrine was during the Cold War.




I'm just going to agree to disagree for now since I don't have time to discuss this further this moment.
Okay that's fine.
 

watdahek

New Member
Registered Member
I thought the general understanding is that IFR tankers and land based fighters are much more cost effective if the fight is taking place near one's own country. If China is going to fight the US within the first island chain, what roles can carriers play that will out perform land based fighters and refueling aircraft? I think 90% of the aircraft carriers are designed with power projection in mind, not homeland defence. The only country I can think of right now who uses carriers for homeland defence is Italy, and maybe brazil/Argentina back in the days?
 
I thought the general understanding is that IFR tankers and land based fighters are much more cost effective if the fight is taking place near one's own country. If China is going to fight the US within the first island chain, what roles can carriers play that will out perform land based fighters and refueling aircraft? I think 90% of the aircraft carriers are designed with power projection in mind, not homeland defence. The only country I can think of right now who uses carriers for homeland defence is Italy, and maybe brazil/Argentina back in the days?
Read back several pages of my previous posts. A major advantage of naval as well as air over ground forces in defense is that the fighting does not have to take place on your own territory thereby minimizing collateral damage, opportunistic targeting by opposing forces, and disruptions to homefront activities such as military production.
 
Of course I'm willing to reciprocate lol, but you didn't ask me before

By 2035, for the Navy's primary combat force I'd envision...
a carrier force of at least 6-7 carriers, of which at least 4-5 are CATOBAR
an amphibious assault force of at least 10-12 LPDs and 4-6 LHDs
a combined destroyer force (both large 055 family and medium 052C/D/E) of at least 50-60
a combined frigate force (054A, 054B, and future family) of at least 50-60
an SSN force preferably of 20-30 modern/competitive SSN/GNs
an SSK force preferably similar in number today, but all modern, with AIP
a green water corvette (056/A family or slightly larger) force of 60+ modern ships

This doesn't include land based naval aviation like MPAs, UAVs, land based strike aircraft or ISR and AEW&C aircraft
And of course I don't consider air force, rocket force or army orbat either.

I'd be interested in a more detailed breakdown similar to mine above if you'd have the time.
Per my previous post holding all opposing forces constant per right now in 2018, for conventional minimal deterrence through the 1st island chain China needs:
6 carriers, all STOBAR is OK, some CATOBAR is of course better
12 055 class (6 for CBGs)
24 052C/D class (6 to 12 for CBGs)
48 054A class (12 to 24 for CBGs)
24 SSNs, 093 or better (6 to 12 for CBGs)
12 SSGNs
48 SSKs, Kilo or better
48 056A+ or better
72 022 or better

Land based naval aviation, PLAAF, any and all conventional ground artillery or missiles combined has to have sufficient capability to destroy all large military bases in full scale war conditions everywhere along the entirety of the 1st island chain from NE-most Japan through SE-most Philippines to W-central Indonesia and the surrounding waters.

Separately concurrently co-existing sufficient amphibious and air assets for recovering Taiwan in a one-on-one immediate complete takeover mission. No amphibious assets are necessary for minimal deterrence outside of the Taiwan scenario.

Effective nuclear MAD balance with all nuclear armed countries worldwide is assumed. Other non-PLAN or friendly forces with overlapping capabilities as the above not considered.

By "non-substantial force" I'm saying that China's entry into the Korean war for example, was not exactly "minimal". I.e.: "minimal conventional deterrence" means that one's own conventional capabilities by extension must be minimal.
That does not make sense, so minimal nuclear deterrence is just one nuclear device then?

Minimal conventional deterrence means the minimal conventional capabilities needed to prevent rational opposing forces from concluding that they can reap any benefit from exercising any military option against you. The maximum minimal conventional deterrence would be conventional MAD such as in the case of North Korea vs South Korea.

Okay, in that case I should add that for all of my descriptions and projections of Chinese strategic doctrine, that diplomacy would of course play the primary role in seeking to advance Chinese geopolitical interests, as it does for basically every nation or state that's existed.
My point isn't just that diplomacy plays the primary role in Chinese strategy and figures far more prominently than military action, which is not necessarily every country's strategy, but also that the effects of diplomacy on military capability and vice versa has to be considered. Sometimes military capability lends diplomatic strength that makes acquiescence more likely, sometimes it exacerbates or even creates hostility where there was none before. Sometimes diplomatic gains render military capabilities moot, sometimes diplomacy has no effect.

My overall thrust is that Chinese strategic interests today and into the future, and China's potential military capabilities today and into the future, are very different to the strategic interests and potential military capabilities China had during the Cold War, therefore it is likely to expect Chinese strategic and military doctrine today and into the future to be very different from what Chinese strategic and military doctrine was during the Cold War.

Okay that's fine.
True enough but we are just continuing to agree to disagree on this since I don't see external or internal changes that make China conclude it will be more secure by developing expeditionary capabilities that reach deeper into the Pacific.
 

AndrewS

Major
Registered Member
However you spin it, rumors aren't facts. If they were, they wouldn't be rumors in the first place. You make it sound like a nuclear carrier design is a done deal, and that the rumors about it might as well be official statements straight from the Chinese military. You also don't distinguish between rumors and speculation (and subsequent rumors based on earlier speculation), as no doubt some or many of these rumors likely are.
Then let's look at the facts as they are today.

China is already the world's largest trading nation and the vast majority of that commerce is seaborne.

Historically the largest trading nation builds the largest (global) navy to protect it's trade.

And the Chinese economy is some 30% larger than the US in terms of actual production and consumption of goods and services, when measured using PPP exchange rates. In the long term, the market should force the (arguably undervalued?) Chinese currency to strengthen to reflect this.

And don't forget that the average Chinese person is still 3-4x poorer than the average American, so Chinese growth rates should still be high in the future.

So we can see both the requirement for nuclear carriers and that there are the resources available to make them.
 

Intrepid

Captain
And don't forget that the average Chinese person is still 3-4x poorer than the average American ...
The price for new weapons consists for the most part of labor costs. And because the Chinese have to pay 3-4x less pay for arms produced in China, they get a comparable value for 30% of the price Americans have to pay.

The US bought $ 650 billion in arms in 2018 and the Chinese $ 250 billion. The Chinese probably bought more weapons.

The Chinese overtaking and winning the arms race even if they pay less money for it.
 

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