PLA Strategy in a Taiwan Contingency


Bltizo

Lieutenant General
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Again, I think the airborne troops are optional and opportunistic, depending upon how the war unfolds.

I understand. My views on the use of airborne troops is... far more skeptical, to the extent that the use of airborne troops would only really be viable in a Taiwan contingency if the opfor's conventional organized military is basically already defeated.


As an aside and related topic, how helicopters are deployed in a Taiwan contingency is probably more relevant, as PLA/PLAN rapidly increases the sizes of their helicopter fleets. Here we're not just talking about helicopters carried by 075s and 071s, but more importantly those flying directly from the mainland to Taiwan as the distance is not very long. I've read before some retired general (vice commander of Nanjing Military District, no less) also talked about Army helicopters potentially leveraging 075s as staging platforms in between mainland and Taiwan. In that case, a lot more helicopters will be available.

The airborne part, both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, is relatively new and emerging platforms for PLA. They probably need some time and experience to integrate them into their overall plan and strategy.

Agreed here.
I think transport helicopters, and especially attack helicopters, would be quite relevant in a Taiwan contingency.

Albeit, as I've written above in the discussion with plawolf, I believe the PLA lacks the capability to adequately support a large scale heliborne assault now, and into the foreseeable futur.e



I believe the bottleneck is personnel and operation and tactics. These 075s are their first LHDs. They'll start to build new batches after a while I suppose.

Indeed. Though I was talking about 075s and 071s together. "Large amphibious assault ships" in general, I suppose is what I meant.
 

solarz

Brigadier
Nope, worth a few missiles for sure, but I wouldn’t waste the lives of brave soldiers to try to take them alive.

The good thing with Taiwan is that it’s an island. Impose a no-fly zone with the will to enforce it even if the Americans try their luck and there is nowhere for them to run to and they will be killed or captured eventually.

I'm not so sure about that. If the TW leadership hides in a bunker like Zelensky, they could hold out for months against bombardment.

Capturing the TW leadership has the potential to end the war right away, so I think it's definitely worth the risk.
 

AndrewS

Brigadier
Registered Member
Let's assume the ratios for LHD, LPD and LST are 1:2:4, the goal is to have 8, 16, 64 of them respectively in medium term. They're roughly at 50% of that goal.

There is a relationship between 1 LHDs and 2 LPDs because this is the required sealift/airlift for an amphibious infantry battalion to be deployed in a single distant amphibious operation, with vehicles only delivered from offshore vessels.

So both the US Navy and Chinese Navy have ended up with this configuration.

But LSTs are designed to land heavy equipment and vehicles directly onto a beach. That places a maximum size constraint on these ships, speed constraints because of the bow door and makes them inherently vulnerable because they are located on the beach.

So LSTs aren't part of an LHD/LPD grouping, and LST numbers aren't dependent on the number of LHD/LPDs in service.
 

Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
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There is a relationship between 1 LHDs and 2 LPDs because this is the required sealift/airlift for an amphibious infantry battalion to be deployed in a single distant amphibious operation, with vehicles only delivered from offshore vessels.

So both the US Navy and Chinese Navy have ended up with this configuration.

But LSTs are designed to land heavy equipment and vehicles directly onto a beach. That places a maximum size constraint on these ships, speed constraints because of the bow door and makes them inherently vulnerable because they are located on the beach.

So LSTs aren't part of an LHD/LPD grouping, and LST numbers aren't dependent on the number of LHD/LPDs in service.

The ratio listed is one described for a Taiwan contingency, it isn't necessarily a blue water power projection taskforce.

Overall, the discussion about force procurement was one that I understood to be a force capable of blue water power projection as well as being capable of conducting sufficient first wave(s) amphibious lift in a Taiwan contingency, which is where the LSTs would come into play.

In that context, a 1 LHD, 2 LPD, 8 LST force would be about right for what bringing an amphibious brigade to shore would need, where the LSTs would be useful to directly land heavier vehicles onto the beach (ones which are either not amphibious capable, or which might not be as amphibious capable as the other ZBD05 family vehicles).
 

weig2000

Senior Member
The ratio listed is one described for a Taiwan contingency, it isn't necessarily a blue water power projection taskforce.

Overall, the discussion about force procurement was one that I understood to be a force capable of blue water power projection as well as being capable of conducting sufficient first wave(s) amphibious lift in a Taiwan contingency, which is where the LSTs would come into play.

In that context, a 1 LHD, 2 LPD, 8 LST force would be about right for what bringing an amphibious brigade to shore would need, where the LSTs would be useful to directly land heavier vehicles onto the beach (ones which are either not amphibious capable, or which might not be as amphibious capable as the other ZBD05 family vehicles).

Exactly.

In the Taiwan contingency, large numbers of LSTs are also necessary to reduce and spread risks. LHDs and LPDs are relatively large and vulnerable. Concentrating all or most of the landing forces on relatively fewer numbers of LHDs and LPDs pose significant risks.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
I'm not so sure about that. If the TW leadership hides in a bunker like Zelensky, they could hold out for months against bombardment.

Capturing the TW leadership has the potential to end the war right away, so I think it's definitely worth the risk.
If you have time to mount an air calv assault, you have time to drop a couple missiles.

Boots on the ground is only really justified if you absolutely need the target alive. Which is not really that high of a concern to be frank.

If the TW leadership are holed up on a bunker missiles cannot reach, airborne are going to have a hell of a time trying to dig them out even if you do send them in.

In all likelihood such an attempt will result in total mission failure and the losses of most, if not all of the assault element.

Better to just use a few missiles to collapse all the entrances and exits to the tunnel complex and let the problem solve itself.
 

Ex0

New Member
Registered Member
I believe the bottleneck is personnel and operation and tactics. These 075s are their first LHDs. They'll start to build new batches after a while I suppose.

I'm just curious since I haven't seen any hard numbers, but how many boots on the ground would china need to put into Taiwan to do a successful amphibious assault and take the island? Like assuming Taiwan fights to the end and doesn't fold instantly to the overwhelming bombardment from sea and air? China needs to assume Taiwan will do the same as Ukraine, with them handing out weapons to everyone who wants one, and needs to expect that other countries will join the fight if it lasts longer than a month. Most of china's wars like vs India in 62 and vs Vietnam in 79 have lasted about a month or two max. That should also apply to Taiwan, or at least should be the goal. Of course once it kicks off, there is no retreat or limited offensive only, since Taiwan is part of china and china cannot afford to lose such a war since another chance won't come easily and if china already paid the price of entry(sanctions/economy/reputation/lives/equipment etc), they might as well stay till the end of the show and get their money worth.

Wouldn't china need like hundreds of thousands at minimum? China's current navy troop level is nowhere near that size, right? Or the air borne troops. So it would have to be a cross domain thing involving land army and every branch combined.

As such, China needs to train all the land army to be "dual purpose" and be capable of airborne assaults and amphibious assaults. If we compare vs how hard the Taiwan kids train, like 4 months only for one time in their life, vs full time professional soldiers, they could train and practice this kind of stuff regularly, just do it rotation.

After they've done a few air drops I assume it would be like riding a bike, and they would be able to pull it off in future no worries even if they haven't done it for months or years.. So they don't need to keep doing such training regularly for the whole army but at least everyone in the whole army should do it once or a few times at least. Or at least for those who are going to be used on the frontlines, ie all the infantry at least. Not just special forces or elite airborne troops which number max few tens of thousands which I doubt would be enough to the job. This would also help "future proof" them, since such skills would also come in handy if ever it's needed for vs Japan, south Korea, Vietnam, phillipines, SCS islands, whatever.

Imo if they are going to attempt amphibious assault, it should be with completely overwhelming force and numbers, including with missiles galore destroying everything of worth on the surface. None of this half assed stuff like Russia is doing which only prolongs the suffering and gives Taiwan and china's enemies more time to hurt china. China gets the massive advantage to pick the time and place to fight, or not fight at all. So if they are going to fight they should not waste their tactical, strategic, qualitative and numerical advantages and should maximize them all.

Of course, Taiwan can't really be compared with Ukraine since Ukraine just ran away to hide in the cities, with occasional attacks on overstretched convoy lines. If Taiwan employed such a strategy, that would just allow china to establish beachheads and landing spots, and if that happens they've already lost. So maybe china doesn't need to level all of the urban areas before they put boots on the ground but if they don't surrender instantly once china has boots on the ground that will be the next step up. But like I said it should be done in 1-2 months ideally. If things take longer it could get dangerous and give time for outside forces to interfere or even intervene.
 

Michaelsinodef

Junior Member
Registered Member
I'm just curious since I haven't seen any hard numbers, but how many boots on the ground would china need to put into Taiwan to do a successful amphibious assault and take the island? Like assuming Taiwan fights to the end and doesn't fold instantly to the overwhelming bombardment from sea and air? China needs to assume Taiwan will do the same as Ukraine, with them handing out weapons to everyone who wants one, and needs to expect that other countries will join the fight if it lasts longer than a month. Most of china's wars like vs India in 62 and vs Vietnam in 79 have lasted about a month or two max. That should also apply to Taiwan, or at least should be the goal. Of course once it kicks off, there is no retreat or limited offensive only, since Taiwan is part of china and china cannot afford to lose such a war since another chance won't come easily and if china already paid the price of entry(sanctions/economy/reputation/lives/equipment etc), they might as well stay till the end of the show and get their money worth.
I really don't think Taiwan can last a month, although I'm sure PLA does prepare for worst case scenario.
Wouldn't china need like hundreds of thousands at minimum? China's current navy troop level is nowhere near that size, right? Or the air borne troops. So it would have to be a cross domain thing involving land army and every branch combined.
100k-200k max I think, the island is only so big, and at one point you end up having 'too many cooks in the kitchen'.
As such, China needs to train all the land army to be "dual purpose" and be capable of airborne assaults and amphibious assaults. If we compare vs how hard the Taiwan kids train, like 4 months only for one time in their life, vs full time professional soldiers, they could train and practice this kind of stuff regularly, just do it rotation.
No, I think adding airborne and amphibious infantry is already some good 20k-30k? Possibly more?
They just need to secure a safe landing port (made on spot or existing) and the PLAGF can start pouring in basically.
After they've done a few air drops I assume it would be like riding a bike, and they would be able to pull it off in future no worries even if they haven't done it for months or years.. So they don't need to keep doing such training regularly for the whole army but at least everyone in the whole army should do it once or a few times at least. Or at least for those who are going to be used on the frontlines, ie all the infantry at least. Not just special forces or elite airborne troops which number max few tens of thousands which I doubt would be enough to the job. This would also help "future proof" them, since such skills would also come in handy if ever it's needed for vs Japan, south Korea, Vietnam, phillipines, SCS islands, whatever.

Imo if they are going to attempt amphibious assault, it should be with completely overwhelming force and numbers, including with missiles galore destroying everything of worth on the surface. None of this half assed stuff like Russia is doing which only prolongs the suffering and gives Taiwan and china's enemies more time to hurt china. China gets the massive advantage to pick the time and place to fight, or not fight at all. So if they are going to fight they should not waste their tactical, strategic, qualitative and numerical advantages and should maximize them all.
Yes, the expectation is that 1000+ missiles will be launched on day 1 taking out most if not all SAM systems while also destroying runways. Quite possible that ammo and oil storage would also quickly be targeted.
Of course, Taiwan can't really be compared with Ukraine since Ukraine just ran away to hide in the cities, with occasional attacks on overstretched convoy lines. If Taiwan employed such a strategy, that would just allow china to establish beachheads and landing spots, and if that happens they've already lost. So maybe china doesn't need to level all of the urban areas before they put boots on the ground but if they don't surrender instantly once china has boots on the ground that will be the next step up. But like I said it should be done in 1-2 months ideally. If things take longer it could get dangerous and give time for outside forces to interfere or even intervene.
Won't need to level urban areas, I do think they should invest, study and develop better ways to do urban warfare (could possible be through drone swarms/masses).
 

AndrewS

Brigadier
Registered Member
100k-200k max I think, the island is only so big, and at one point you end up having 'too many cooks in the kitchen'.

I don't think that is anywhere near enough, as you would likely end up with a Ukraine style mess.
Remember that most of any army "front" is still empty space.

For Taiwan itself, they could easily spare 7 Group Armies (3 from ETC, 1 from STC, 3 from CTC). That's about 350K soldiers.
Plus I expect most of the Airborne Corps to be deployed in Taiwan, which is another 40K.

In reserve, there are another 6 Group Armies covering Korea, India and Vietnam contingencies respectively. But they could make some of these available.

They've moved to twice-yearly conscript inductions (presumably undergoing 6 month extended basic training), so there are approx 200K volunteer conscripts (in all military branches) available within a maximum of 6 months. There is literally no issue with deploying any soldiers to Taiwan, as the entire Army has actually volunteered to serve and everyone knows Taiwan is the primary mission before they signed up.

It also means you have approx 200K recently demobilised conscripts within 6months.
Plus you have the PAP formations as well for rear-area security.

So as a base scenario, I think you'd be looking at China deploying a bare minimum of 600K combat personnel to Taiwan.
 

weig2000

Senior Member
So as a base scenario, I think you'd be looking at China deploying a bare minimum of 600K combat personnel to Taiwan.

That's an overkill for an island the size of Taiwan. Taiwan military has about 170,000 active personnel including air force and navy. China probably needs anywhere between 300k-400k combat troops max for Taiwan. They can deploy also PAP for occupation purpose if necessary.

Russia, meanwhile, would love to have 600K combat troop deployed in Ukraine. LOL.
 

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