Future PLAN orbat discussion


AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
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.
Japan in the 2000s was already a wealthy developed country with Per Capita GDP on par with the USA.
So Japan had no prospects for continued fast growth.

There is no way that China from 1990s to today is equivalent.

On an exchange rate basis, the average Chinese person is currently 5x "poorer" than the US average.
On a PPP basis, it is 3x "poorer" than the US average.
It means China does still have the potential to continue with fast catchup growth for the next 10+ years.

So the graphs you have listed are not relevant comparisons.

For example, there are still over 360Million rural peasant farmers in China who are still to catch up and join their urban counterparts. Just this subsection of the Chinese population can reasonably be expected to add another $10 Trillion of economic output in the next 20 years.
 
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AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
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.
Your suggested operating profile implies a carrier airwing could only get a handful of aircraft to their operating areas.
Then they would face a much larger Chinese Air Force operating near their own bases.

I reckon a carrier airwing would consider itself fortunate if it successfully delivers a missile strike of 50 missiles per day.
That is nowhere near enough to make a difference.

And consider the total cost of an aircraft carrier, its escorts and airwing versus land-based aircraft.

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Yes, the US does have a lot of tankers.
But tankers have to operate from 1. large runways and are 2. vulnerable to airborne detection.

1. Geography means that the US/Japan is doesn't have safe runways from which to operate these tankers.
All of Japan is 800-1300km from mainland China. That is within missile range, and tankers can't hide on the ground.
Guam is the only rear area base that is available, and given large numbers of aircraft, it will be a priority target.
But Guam is also an isolated base which has no strategic depth to its defenses.

2. Tankers are big vulnerable targets.
I would expect them to be one of the primary targets for J-20 stealth fighters, which would be operating up to 1500km from mainland China.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
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.
I agree.

But given that is the case, then you are basically saying that US aircraft carriers are irrelevant or ineffective.
Then look at how much the US is spending on aircraft carriers, their escorts and the carrier airwing.

You also just suggested that China needs to build twice as many aircraft carriers as the USA, for the Chinese military to obtain twice the combat power.
But now you're saying that if China gets into a war, it needs land-based aircraft instead of carriers.

And in the Western Pacific, China has a lot more aircraft available, a lot more airbases, and also the strategic depth to base aircraft in safe rear areas.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
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.
So what if the US has twice as many medium-long range cruise missiles?
Subsonic cruise missiles detected at the radar horizon are easy to destroy at a reasonable cost.
These aren't my words, but from public comments made by Pentagon officials.

For example
An offensive LRASM costs $3M. A defensive ESSM SAM cost $1M.
You get 4 full length engagements at the 30km radar horizon,
With a Pk=0.7 this virtually guarantees no LRASMs survive.
And only costs $1.5M of SAMs to shoot down $3M of LRASMs

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The Chinese military only has a small number of targets, call it 20 major bases for Japan/USA.
Almost all are relatively close to mainland China, so relatively easy to target.

In comparison, there are 200+ major bases in China.
These are spread out all over China, many of which are located deep in the interior.

Again, it doesn't matter if the US has twice as many medium-long range cruise missiles as China.

It still means US/Japan will run out of medium-long range cruise missiles first.
That means Chinese airbases will be operating, whilst Japanese/US airbases will still be under missile attack.
And that means the Chinese Air Force can use cheaper short-range weapons or obtain air superiority.

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And remember that you're looking at the situation today.
Given that you do expect Chinese GDP growth of 5-6% per year, then you are expecting Chinese GDP to double in the next 12-14 years.
And it would be reasonable to assume Chinese military spending to at least match this.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
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 think the primary Chinese objective is Taiwan which is only 200km from the Chinese mainland, but much further from Okinawa/Kyushu/Guam.
That means it is easy for China to project air/sea/missile power, but really difficult for anyone else.

You seem to think the taking and keeping other islands in the 1st Island Chain is important to the Chinese military, but they wouldn't actually care, as long as Taiwan was secured.

If they have Taiwan, they have WON.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
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.
The US would be struggling in arms race with China.
Even using an exchange rate comparison TODAY, suggests that the Chinese economy can outspend the USA in an long-term arms race.

Also remember you are expecting Chinese GDP growth of 5-6%, which implies a doubling in the next 12-14 years.

Methodology below.

An interesting thought exercise on military spending (using nominal exchange rates instead of PPP)

Situation Today 2019

USA
$686 Bil
39.1% is labour related ($268Bil)

China
Approx $282 Bil
Est. 33% is labour related ($93Bil)

So today, outside of labour costs, the USA spends $417 Bil whilst China spends $188 Bil

Scenario Tommorow 2020

But let's say China were to increase military spending from 2% and match the USA in spending 3.2% of GDP on the military.
And that the overall manpower of the Chinese military stays the same.
The revised figures for non-labour military spending becomes:

USA: $417 Bil (the same)
China: $358 Bil (up from $188 Bil)

Analysis

In other words, the Chinese government already knows it can match the USA in terms of military spending (on an exchange rate basis), but has chosen to not to.

And this doesn't take into account the following factors:
1. Chinese R&D, procurement and maintenance costs can be much cheaper than their US equivalent eg. Main Battle Tanks, AEGIS Destroyers, Submarines etc etc
2. Future economic growth eg. China growing to 2x the US economy by 2035, as per the Australian government.
3. Chinese systems can be smaller because they're operating on home turf, rather than having to travel across the Pacific.
 

Dante80

New Member
Registered Member
The US would be struggling in arms race with China.
Even using an exchange rate comparison TODAY, suggests that the Chinese economy can outspend the USA in an long-term arms race.

Also remember you are expecting Chinese GDP growth of 5-6%, which implies a doubling in the next 12-14 years.
Neither the US nor China really want to enter a real (cold war style) arms race. This would affect both countries greatly, and the world economy as a whole too.
 

Totoro

Captain
VIP Professional
On an exchange rate basis, the average Chinese person is currently 5x "poorer" than the US average.
On a PPP basis, it is 3x "poorer" than the US average.
It means China does still have the potential to continue with fast catchup growth for the next 10+ years.

So the graphs you have listed are not relevant comparisons.
I disagree, of course.

It's also obvious from current nominal /PPP GDP data that the current ratio, modifier, factor or whatever one wants to call it between nominal dollar value and PPP value is 1.8 rather than 3.
and that factor will keep getting smaller as China gets richer over the years.


And consider the total cost of an aircraft carrier, its escorts and airwing versus land-based aircraft.
well we seem to agree on general financial inefficiency of carrier use, compared to land airbase use. I really won't go into further details where we disagree as this discussion would never end, if I did that.


Yes, the US does have a lot of tankers.
But tankers have to operate from 1. large runways and are 2. vulnerable to airborne detection.

1. Geography means that the US/Japan is doesn't have safe runways from which to operate these tankers.
All of Japan is 800-1300km from mainland China. That is within missile range, and tankers can't hide on the ground.
Guam is the only rear area base that is available, and given large numbers of aircraft, it will be a priority target.
But Guam is also an isolated base which has no strategic depth to its defenses.

2. Tankers are big vulnerable targets.
I would expect them to be one of the primary targets for J-20 stealth fighters, which would be operating up to 1500km from mainland China.

Tankers would rarely if ever get to 500 km of combat zones, when US is on the offensive. They'd mostly be not detected. Of course in the instances where China is on the offense, perhaps striking targets on Mainland Japan, then tankers might get hit. But in such battles tankers would not really even be used.

Tankers can indeed "hide" on the ground. At one point there at position X, the next hour they're on position Y, a few hundred meters away. aerial and space based recon is not at the level where every target over Japan is revisted every half an hour.

Guam is not the only rear base. There will be other bases - either newly constructed, or expanded existing runways or commercial runways used. Again, we already talked about this in other threads so i feel silly for repeating myself.

Guam the island has a commercial airport as well. It also has another old airstrip area at the northern tip of the island.
Rota island has an airstrip.
Tinian has an airstrip and another old airstrip area up north.
Saipan has a commercial airport.
Iwo Jima has an airbase.
Ko Jima has an airport.
Palau has an airport. And it's an associated US territory and it would NOT be neutral in a war.
Wake Island has a base. Though granted is sufficiently far away that it'd likely be a stopover base or perhaps a bomber base.
All the above are 2 km or longer runways, with sufficient area to expand them to 3 km, if needed.

Then there are the RyuKyu islands. There's a few dozen runways/airports on those, as I wrote in one of the other threads. On mainland japan there are over a 100 sites (airports or airstrips) with fairly long runways. There's A LOT of place to put various aircraft on. Commercial traffic would take a distant second place when it comes to priority of usage.

J-20 would not be regularly operating 1500 km away from china, the same way Superhornets would not be operating at over 1000 km from the carriers, most of the time. Sure, occasinally, some J20s may get to perform an operation 1500 km away from China, after refueling. But it wouldn't be patrol, it'd be some escort mission or strike mission. As a rule, though, they'd stick closer to China, as it's very unlikely they have such range. and why are we even talking about J20 range when there's no way for us to know such figures?



You also just suggested that China needs to build twice as many aircraft carriers as the USA, for the Chinese military to obtain twice the combat power.
But now you're saying that if China gets into a war, it needs land-based aircraft instead of carriers.

And in the Western Pacific, China has a lot more aircraft available, a lot more airbases, and also the strategic depth to base aircraft in safe rear areas.

I did not suggest China needs to build twice as many anything. You were the one who first suggested Japan might back off if China had twice as large forces than US/Japan combined. Then I went on to calculate what'd be needed for such an increase and how long that would take. Nowhere in that exercise did i suggest China should be advised to actually go on such a build up.

For the current moment, and for the next decade or so, China gets much more by adding land based planes than by adding carriers. Yet one has to start somewhere with the carriers, if by 2040 or whenever China wants to have even an option to go out into the Pacific during a war.

China does have more airbases and strategic depth but we disagree on just how few bases the US/Japan side would have. And lets leave it at that disagreement as it'd be pointless to go further.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
Neither the US nor China really want to enter a real (cold war style) arms race. This would affect both countries greatly, and the world economy as a whole too.
Yes, it's not in the interests of both China and the USA tuo enter into a real arms race.

However, there is a distinct minority in the USA who would welcome an arms race, because they still think the USA would decisively "win"

But their thinking hasn't caught up with today's reality, because they're stuck with using simple exchange rate comparisons
 

Dante80

New Member
Registered Member
However, there is a distinct minority in the USA who would welcome an arms race, because they still think the USA would decisively "win"
That distinct minority that you are talking about is mainly concerned with keeping the US M-IC running on full steam, strictly for profit reasons. See the concepts of the
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