Lessons for China to learn from Ukraine conflict for Taiwan scenario


tphuang

Brigadier
VIP Professional
Registered Member
Let's try to have a thread just discussing what the Russians did during this conflict and what can China learn. Please keep nukes and which countries you hate out of this discussion.

I just listened to a shilao podcast on the first day and half of the war and it was quite enlightening as usual. A lot of good topics to think about. I think most of us can agree that China unilterally invading Taiwan right now would be a terrible idea. We also know that China does have its own timeline of when to be ready to invade Taiwan in case things take a wrong turn. So, what are the minimum things that PLA need to do?

To start off, Shilao discussed an exercise PLA had in 2000s where they managed a large scale helicopter operation of Z-9Ws and Mi-17s where Z-9s were performing the escort duties. Basically, the gist is that this lineup of helicopters to assist a beach landing would lead to quite a disaster. Most of the Mi-17s were imported as civilian helicopters and have no armor protection. The Z-9s are extremely light and also have no armor protection. Against any level of Manpad or even high caliber machine guns, the helicopters would suffer huge losses. Which brings us to the currently lineup of Z-10s, Z-20s, Z-8s, and Mi-17. We know that Z-10s have legendarily long range. Z-20s and Z-8s should also be better protected than Mi-17s. However, Z-10s do not have that much armor. It's not a heavy attack helicopter. The amount of armor you see on Z-10ME is probably the most they would ever put on domestic Z-10s. So even though they have a much better protected lineup of helicopters, it's still not great. Their proposal is revisiting the Ka-52 import. They talked about how Ka-52 managed to survive or at least land even after getting struck with missile and the pilots still survived. In early phases of the war, you really need to be able to keep utilizing your helicopters to keep transporting more troops and equipment over the water. The helicopter you have need to keep operating even if it takes a couple of hits. If a Z-10 needs to be out for the rest of the day for repairs after taking some damage in the cockpit, that's a huge problem. The other thing is that you want the helicopter to still be able to make it back to mainland if it gets hit on Taiwan side. With these considerations, a heavy attack helicopters seem to be a huge need for a future campaign. Maybe they can turn Z-20 into an assault helicopter, but it wouldn't be a dedicated attack helicopter. Also, they mentioned that although PLA LH has over 1000 helicopters, they still need more to be able to confidently use them without worrying about taking losses. Again, I think given the outsized importance that helicopters would have in the Taiwan scenario. There is definitely a need for a lot more improvement in their helicopter fleet. That could mean more helicopters or just more capable ones that can survive longer and generate more sorties. I'd think a lot more Z-20s and Z-8Ls and AC-313A military versions are needed for transports.

They also mentioned that Russians really didn't plan their helicopter deployments that well. In the example of the failed attack on the Ukrainian airport on the first day. There really is no excuses not having enough helicopters to rescue the stranded troops afterward. You must plan to have more in reserve in case you take more losses than expected. US military is really good at this. Very rarely do you see America having issues where they do not have enough helicopters when they need item.

The other point they really hammered home is Russia's attempts to control the air space. Again, Ukraine does not have a great air force or air defense, but RuAF could not suppress it. RuAF took out radar stations and probably command centers in the airport, but could not keep runways out of action or even destroy the aircraft hangars. This is a huge indictment on RuAF's inability to sustain operations. They were only performing sorties twice a day. That is really not sufficient to keeping the target air base out of action. In addition, they commented on Russia's lack of success in electronic warfare or SEAD missions. They do not think RuAF improved much in this area since 2008. Again, this is not due to lack of new equipments for RuAF. This points to probably lack of realistic training and slow directions from command centers for additional air raid. In this area, we have seen huge improvements from PLAAF. They've shown a lot of abilities in sustaining large operations into Taiwan ADIZ and controlling Taiwan air space. However, I think for them to really dominate the air space, they will need to be able to ramp this up to an even higher level over a 2 to 3 period in the start of an invasion. To me, that would point to a lot more J-16s and J-20s are needed. They also need to demonstrate ability to raise to an even higher tempo than what they've shown so far. Everything we've seen from PLAAF thus far have been pretty successful. That means they are probably not pushing themselves on these deployments. They have probably tried out these deployments multiples in land before trying them over water. But as they try to improve, I think there is a couple of more levels they can get to. Not just in terms of more sorties and aircraft, but also more joint operations with helicopters and naval ships.

When it comes to SEAD, the podcast also talked about targets in Taiwan that would need to be taken out. They mentioned only 16 major radar stations along with SAMs, 6 E-2K AWACS and naval ships like Kidd class. Those are all things that PLA will need to take out pretty early on or suppress in order to have ROCAF fighting blind. Imo, they will need to continually have EW aircraft presence to not just suppress Taiwan air defense, but also all electric stations, cell towers, internet providers and communication lines. They need to have elint aircraft pick up all communications that Taiwan is having. They need to make sure they can use EW to cut off or confuse Taiwan communications. You should not have things like what we are seeing in Ukraine where people can freely post things from the conflict online. Again, China has made significant progress here, but they need to continue to induct more Y-8/9 EW aircraft + J-16Ds. You cannot demoralize an opponent when they can still communicate with each other and see their head of state performing rally cry.

Another point they mentioned is mobile anti-aircraft solution like Taiwan's Skyguard system. They mentioned how J-16/20 often had more trouble in DACT against HQ-17 rather than HQ-9/S-400, because mobile SAMs can often sneak up on attacking aircraft if they fly predictable routes. To me, this is another major reason they really need a lot more UCAVs. You want your most powerful SEAD aircraft to take out the major air defense systems. However, you still need to clear out the shorter and more mobile air defense system afterward. Helicopters would be in danger against these things. UCAVs with accurate PGMs and high quality sensors would probably be the best tools at tracking these things down and destroying them. Again, I think PLAAF will need to make a lot more investment in this area. These platforms will continue to improve as AI/software technology continue to improve.

Overall, I think there are already a lot of lessons PLA can learn from the Ukraine conflict. There are certain Russian shortcomings in organization, logistics and training that are probably also there with PLA since neither forces have been in large scale conflicts recently. I think they need a lot more joint operations training involving a lot of helicopters, aircraft and amphibious ships and they need to show the ability to support these equipment in forward positions.
 

SinoSoldier

Colonel
I highly doubt that in any Taiwan scenario would you see beach landing operations à la D-Day. It is more logical, drawing from historical precedents, to wipe out most of Taiwan's high-end defensive assets (aircraft, C&C centers, airfields, naval vessels, and military staging areas or depots) in a large-scale coordinated cruise- and ballistic missile strike rather than to defeat these assets whilst wading ashore, and I think the PLA's massive investment in such precision strike systems reflects that.
 

tamsen_ikard

Junior Member
Registered Member
I think the biggest lesson is that soft invasion of Taiwan with light use firepower will fail massively.

I still believe that China will become powerful enough to dominate East Pacific and rule out any US intervention. And that point, Taiwanese will slowly realize a negotiated surrender with somekind of hong kong style one country two systems is the best they can get.

But if such a scenario does not happen and China becomes determined to use force, then soft approach will only increase Taiwanese morale and belief that they can win in the battlefield. Instead they will have to truly use shock and Awe bomb the hell out of all military targets. If Taiwan invasion is to happen, it needs to be an overwhelming display of power. Not a display of morality and softness.
 

FairAndUnbiased

Captain
Registered Member
how to deal with a limited foreign intervention of ISR assets feeding data + posturing as is happening to RUS right now?

In UKR case I believe RUS attempted cyber to cripple their comms but failed. In a hypothetical TWN scenario, PLAN can cut their SLOC and jam/strike their microwave transceivers (to disable their civil internet feed and impose a partial media blackout), but there is still wireless transmission possible especially through satellites in the air superiority phase.

While satellites have high latency and very limited bandwidth, they can still transmit some video, and it will be difficult to impose a total media blackout. Only a partial media blackout is possible. And data transmission is still VERY possible.

Let's say that E-2s, RQ-4s and E-8s were patrolling off Okinawa and in the Bashi Straits, ~200 km from TWN. It's obvious they're acting as comm nodes and feeding targeting data. There's 3 CBGs in the area and 3 more steaming within 2 week time. Tactical air is inactive but tankers are starting to move into the area. This is exactly what is going on in UKR right now.

Allowing them to keep transmitting is obviously bad. But attacking foreign assets when they're not in the TW airspace would greatly escalate the situation. If you wait, they might strike first anyways when they're fully prepared.
 

Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Registered Member
I highly doubt that in any Taiwan scenario would you see beach landing operations à la D-Day. It is more logical, drawing from historical precedents, to wipe out most of Taiwan's high-end defensive assets (aircraft, C&C centers, airfields, naval vessels, and military staging areas or depots) in a large-scale coordinated cruise- and ballistic missile strike rather than to defeat these assets whilst wading ashore, and I think the PLA's massive investment in such precision strike systems reflects that.

That depends entirely on how we think D-Day was conducted...

Any PLA amphibious landing would obviously be preceded by ensuring they have air superiority and sea control over the landing area, and bombarding the landing area prior to landing as well. During and after landing, air power would harass and break apart counterattacks.

That is essentially how the allies conducted D-Day as well... I suppose the biggest surface "difference" is that PLA landings will be largely mechanized amphibious forces rather than landing mostly light infantry off LCVPs.
 

SinoSoldier

Colonel
That depends entirely on how we think D-Day was conducted...

Any PLA amphibious landing would obviously be preceded by ensuring they have air superiority and sea control over the landing area, and bombarding the landing area prior to landing as well. During and after landing, air power would harass and break apart counterattacks.

That is essentially how the allies conducted D-Day as well... I suppose the biggest surface "difference" is that PLA landings will be largely mechanized amphibious forces rather than landing mostly light infantry off LCVPs.

The Allies did face resistance upon entering the beaches despite having conducted bombing raids on the defenses prior to the operation. Nobody realistically expects the PLA to mop up 100% of the defending forces prior to going in, but any fighting should be limited to sporadic pockets rather than a coordinated defense like what the Germans put up.
 

latenlazy

Brigadier
The Allies did face resistance upon entering the beaches despite having conducted bombing raids on the defenses prior to the operation. Nobody realistically expects the PLA to mop up 100% of the defending forces prior to going in, but any fighting should be limited to sporadic pockets rather than a coordinated defense like what the Germans put up.
That depends entirely on how we think D-Day was conducted...

Any PLA amphibious landing would obviously be preceded by ensuring they have air superiority and sea control over the landing area, and bombarding the landing area prior to landing as well. During and after landing, air power would harass and break apart counterattacks.

That is essentially how the allies conducted D-Day as well... I suppose the biggest surface "difference" is that PLA landings will be largely mechanized amphibious forces rather than landing mostly light infantry off LCVPs.
Worth emphasizing here that comparing WWII air support against present day air support is like comparing a flint axe against a shotgun. Suppression of interdicting infantry via air was mostly a nice assist during D-day. In modern warfare it’s nearly impossible to meet against a landing party out in open space without being completely pinned by aerial strikes, should you lose control of your airspace.
 

solarz

Brigadier
Hit hard, hit fast, and overwhelm your enemy quickly.

Key areas:
- Electronic Warfare: disrupt enemy communications, neutralize OSINT, countermeasures against enemy EW
- Drones, drones, and more drones! Use drones to take out air defenses the initial missile strikes missed, use drones for recon and intel, drones to take out massed enemy forces.
- Airborne Assault: if there's one thing this war has shown, you can really pack a punch with airborne assault. Moreover, the realization that your enemy is attacking everywhere at once it's extremely demoralizing. If properly capitalized upon, this can end the fight quickly.
 

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