Future PLAN orbat discussion

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
I won't comment on specifics of Romney's speech. He's a politician and for the most part politicians don't really rely on precise analysis. I think there's a dozen people here on this forum who could make a more informed speech.
He was actually a professional (strategy) management consultant at Bain and BCG, which are noted for demanding data-driven analysis.
And he's not a professional politician, as he only entered politics after retiring from his business career.

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There are enough economic papers in the public domain that support continued Chinese growth prospects.
Sure, there are some that don't agree, but when I analyse their arguments, they frequently don't make sense.

The one that got closest was the Harvard/Summers "regression to the mean" paper, which suggested Chinese growth slowing to 2% per year.
But since that paper was published 7 years ago, China's GDP has almost doubled in size.

At the time, I pointed out that China doesn't have much in common with the developing countries of Latin America, Africa and developing Asia.
And that China's peer group are the other East Asian Economic Tigers (Japan/Korea/Taiwan/HK/Singapore)
China shares so many similarities with these countries, which all solved the challenge of growing past the middle-income trap.

But we'll just have to agree to disagree.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
Hypersonic weapons will not be a game changer. They will further evolve combat, sure.
US carriers were faced with mach 5 missiles swooping down on them back in 1980s. (Kh-15)
Yes, Tsirkon can do up to mach 10 at high altitude, but that's not an automatic game over for carriers.
What it will do is force US to have more ships in escort and/or more and more powerful missiles to intercept them. ALL of which the US is doing over the last few decades. They just keep adding destroyers and their anti-missile missiles are getting bigger and faster.
Longer reach of overall targeting and engagement system will also force the carriers to be placed farther out into the ocean. Which will mean more planes dedicated to refueling and less planes left for combat sorties. So that will impact the effectiveness of the carrier as well.
It's the combination of guided hypersonics and distance which is potentially the game changer for US aircraft carriers.

Current US carrier aircraft work to an unrefueled operating radius of 500km.
With tankers, current thinking is to operate at 1000km
The CSBA 2030 vision is of unmanned fighter drones that operates at 1500-2000km.

But we've already seen China put into service hypersonic reconnaisance aircraft and guided hypersonic missiles with a range of 2000km.
At that distance, a US carrier can barely project any air power, so the carriers are neutralised and the Chinese military achieves its objective.

Previously, Soviet guided hypersonic/supersonic missiles were limited to a range of around 300km
At that range, a carrier-based airwing could shoot down the incoming bombers and ships.

Sure, there is a competition between offensive missiles and air defense missiles.
But the US is struggling to afford enough destroyers.
Plus it looks like the cost equation favours cheaper offensive hypersonic missiles versus expensive defensive missiles.
 

Totoro

Captain
VIP Professional
Japan slowed from 10 % to roughly 2 % in the last 30 years.
SK slowed from 10% to a few percent in last 20 years.
Singapore is doing okay, though it has really wild swings. Too peculiar to be an example.
Taiwan performance is perhaps the closest China can hope to strive towards. Last time it had long term 10% GDP growth was 40 years ago. Since then that slid to 3-4%, though several years had spikes that reached 10%.

I don't think China will hit 2% anytime soon. But by 2030 I do think we will be seeing more and more 4 or 5 % growth than 6 or 7 %. Let alone higher.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
But carrier itself is not going anywhere any time soon. Which is why China plans to build at least several of them.

Then again, carriers are of secondary importance for US containment strategy in war. Various forces operating from various Japanese (and other ) islands would be the primary source of firepower and control. But we've already discussed that in other threads so I am not inclined to have a repeat of that here.
Carriers are useful for blue-water work, yes.
But I reckon Chinese carriers won't stray too far from the Chinese coast which provides long-range air/missile cover.

The US Marines are already publicly acknowledging that their soldiers will be cut off from resupply on various islands, and to expect Chinese Navy ships operating past the 1st Island Chain.

That's not containment or sea control.
That's just trying to impose some attrition on Chinese Navy ships passing through.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
I don't think China will hit 2% anytime soon. But by 2030 I do think we will be seeing more and more 4 or 5 % growth than 6 or 7 %. Let alone higher.
That is what I expect as well.

But that still results in China GDP growing to 2x the USA in 2030-2035.
And 3x the USA by 2050.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
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Can you provide the actual source?

It looks like they are projecting Chinese growth of 2-3% per year (since 2018), which means China remains a low-tech country stuck in the middle income trap.

I wouldn't take that bet, since it is contradicted by 6% growth and what can only be described as explosive growth in Chinese R&D spending, which is still continuing. Article and graphic below.

And they assume the exchange rate won't appreciate over the next 30 years?

Preliminary data from 2019 suggest that China has already surpassed the United States in R&D spending, said Julia Philips, chair of the National Science Board’s science and engineering policy committee, during a press briefing.

The board oversees the NSF and produces the Indicators reports.


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Totoro

Captain
VIP Professional
It's the combination of guided hypersonics and distance which is potentially the game changer for US aircraft carriers.

Current US carrier aircraft work to an unrefueled operating radius of 500km.
With tankers, current thinking is to operate at 1000km
The CSBA 2030 vision is of unmanned fighter drones that operates at 1500-2000km.

But we've already seen China put into service hypersonic reconnaisance aircraft and guided hypersonic missiles with a range of 2000km.
At that distance, a US carrier can barely project any air power, so the carriers are neutralised and the Chinese military achieves its objective.

Previously, Soviet guided hypersonic/supersonic missiles were limited to a range of around 300km
At that range, a carrier-based airwing could shoot down the incoming bombers and ships.

Sure, there is a competition between offensive missiles and air defense missiles.
But the US is struggling to afford enough destroyers.
Plus it looks like the cost equation favours cheaper offensive hypersonic missiles versus expensive defensive missiles.
I won't go into the numbers discussion as there's no real way to confirm any of those figures thrown around. I do notice the tendency that the optimistic, upper limits of reasonably expected ranges and distances are taken for granted though. I personally don't like to assume the best and make it the normal.

I do agree that carriers will slowly be pushed more and more away from Chinese coast. And that they will perform fewer sorties of less duration over combat area, due to that strain on tankers/range etc.

That being said, combat radii well over 1000 km would be quite possible with tankers. It all depends on the mission profile, loadout etc.
USN Superhornet fact file clearly states 3050 km ferry range with 2 missiles and 3 tanks retained. With tanks dropped that'd go to 3200 km. If the plane would simply fly in a straight line, not do anything and return home, it'd amount to non-combat radius of 1500 km. With some medium loadout that'd drop to 1000 km of combat radius. If there's afterburner use and low flying or heavy loadout, it might indeed drop down to 500 km. But basically, depending on the mission - it would be between 500 and 1000 km. One refueling, on the way to the target area, could add half a tank, before getting too close to the combat zone. Another one on the way back would basically more than double the range (because refueling is done at altitude, and gaining altitude uses up more fuel) So we're looking at 1100-2200 km of combat radius for SOME missions. Hard to say how many, percentage wise.
The US does have some 500-600 dedicated air tankers, most of them capable of filling up half a hornet 15-20 times.

I'll once again reiterate that land based air forces and not carriers would be the main source of air power in a war against China.

It'd be a game of numbers, sending hundreds of missiles on dozens of bases and ships. Then repeating that (almost) every day. And both sides would do that. US has roughly twice as many medium/long range cruise missiles.

None of that means US would necessarily crush the Chinese forces and bombard the Chinese coast. But it may mean the Chinese forces may not really get to take the first island chain islands and keep them indefinitely. The closer the fight would get to Chinese coastline, the harder it would be for US. Perhaps even too costly to keep it up for the US. But the closer to Japanese mainland or the second island chain the fight gets - the harder it would be for China. Perhaps too costly in the long run. I am of course talking about a war in 2020. Who the heck knows what the balance of power will be in 10 or 20 years' time.

I don't think US would be struggling to afford new ships, if the arms race starts. What we're seeing now is still post old cold war thinking and funding for the US. and pre new cold war funding. If there's a full on arms race, I can easily see US defense budget hitting one trillion within a few years. Yes, it'd put some more strain on the economy, but nothing the US couldn't handle for several decades.
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Even just getting back to 2010 levels would mean a 50% increase in budget. That alone would get it to one trillion.



That is what I expect as well.

But that still results in China GDP growing to 2x the USA in 2030-2035.
And 3x the USA by 2050.
Not by my calculations.
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Chinese (red) line from 1990s to today is roughly where Japan (blue) was up to year 2000 or so, adjusted for a few percent.
Or where US (light blue) was up to, say, late 1960s. Though i don't expect as many ups and downs as the US had for China. The same reason is why Singapore or Taiwan are not good comparisons. They're too small, too dependent on outside influences, on particular products and services. Small systems are more easily pushed around. Large systems like China are heavy and have huge inertia. They won't see big ups and downs in such short periods of time.

I guess South Korea (yellow) up to year 2000 or so is also similar to the Chinese graph up until today.

So, extrapolating that Chinese graph into the future, i see a line that might go up or down, but the black, average line would likely hit 4% in 2029. Say 5% average during next 10 years. Then from 2029 to 2039 I'd expect an average of 3.5% and from 2039 to 2049 average of 4%.

US is harder to predict as it runs the show in a way. but it has been keeping steady so assuming 2.25% up until 2039 and 2% after that gives me this result in nominal dollars in 2029:
23 trillion for China, 26.7 trillion for US. In 2039 nominal dollar values are 33,4 trillion for US, 32.5 trillion for China. Around 2042 China overtakes the US in nominal value.

Of course, these are just simple calculations. Who knows what the inflation would add. Or what the exchange rate might change. Indeed, the exchange rate is the single biggest factor here. A 20% shift in value, which IS possible to happen within just a year or two, might rise the Chinese GDP by the same amount. So 17 trillion instead of current 14 trillion, for example. But such things are impossible to predict.

PPP values in the future are also very hard to predict. I did try to find some old numbers, though. Back in 1995 Chinese PPP GDP to nominal GDP ratio was 3.4. In 2010 it was down to 2.05. And in 2015 the ratio was 1.8. It's perfectly normal that the said ratio would get smaller as China gets richer, but by which amount per year - that's very hard to assess. But it might very well be that, by 2030 or so, the ratio will be under 1.5 for example. In which case the 23 trillion dollars for China would in PPP terms be 34 trillion. Compared to 26.7 trillion for US. And that in 2039 the PPP GDP for China would be 45.5 trillion. Compared to US' 33.4 trillion. (1.4 ratio assumed) And that doubling the PPP GDP, compared to US, may not happen before year 2050 or so.

But all this is SO far into the future, and there's SO many unknowns, that it's simply silly to even talk about. And we didn't even take into account the cold war. Economic war. or even some open hostilities. Such events could sway GDP movements for both countries to unknown lengths.
 
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