Taiwan Military News, Reports, Data, etc.


weig2000

Senior Member
Reliably making quick work of a huge Island fortress is an optimistic bet.
It is not. It's both necessary and the best strategy, given the huge and increasing power disparity across the strait. This is also not the era of Normandy. I'll not go into details for obvious reasons.

Blockade is meant to prevent things from coming from both directions, including the outside. In the worst scenario for an attacker, it at least buys time for possible intervention to come.

A blockade strong enough can prevent intervention altogether; a flicky blockade with sinkings here and there won't be as much of a deterrent.
You lost me. Protracted blockade invites external intervention, on the contrary.

Summing up, submarines matter.
Summing up, in the grand scheme of things, they don't matter all that much. Taiwan is so far behind in submarines technologies, it'll be too little too late.
 

Bltizo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Registered Member
I'm not sure why that would be the case. There would be only so many ships the PLAN could reasonably deploy compared to the number of ships that are sailing towards or within Asia at any given time - if it did establish a blockade ships going to Taiwan would not disclose their destination beforehand. They might only get one chance at an intercept, and having Taiwanese submarines running around would complicate things.

Also, because the submarines will get the same weapon fit as US submarines, the USN could also start sinking Chinese ships and plausibly deny it was them.

Besides, if Taiwan doesn't build the submarines it will definitely have one less tool in its kit to deal with a Chinese blockade.



How exactly would the PLAN run away from submarines it may not know the location of that are armed with UGM-84s?

The fundamental issue with going for SSKs, is that the ROCN is basically trying to take on an asymmetric strategy to target a "traditional" weak domain of the PLAN -- ASW.

The problem with this approach is that the PLAN have also been aware of this relative "weakness" for decades going back and have made massive advances in this domain, just as they made massive advances in AAW as well when AAW back in yester-decade was considered a "traditional" weak domain of the PLAN.
The idea of ASW being a "weakness" for the PLAN is actually a bit of a canard -- it's more accurate to say that ASW is just one of the domains of the PLAN that hadn't yet been developed to globally competitive levels, while other domains were prioritized first. After all, going back two or three decades, the PLAN was weak in every domain of naval warfare.
As part of their modernization process, first the PLAN sought to advance ASuW to globally competitive levels of the time, then with their AAW destroyers and frigates it was AAW, and then ASW.


More importantly, one needs to look at just what kind of capabilities the PLAN are building and which other opfors the PLAN (or indeed the PLA) are developing overall. For the PLAN, even if we leave aside whether the ROCN has a fleet of 8 SSKs or not, they were always going to eventually have a demand for a capable and robust ASW capability both in littorals and in open ocean because their major potential adversaries (again, this is not including the ROC military) had capable submarine fleets capable of operating both in the littorals and the open ocean as well.

And looking at the PLAN's procurement of ASW capabilities over the last decade -- not only in terms of ASW MPAs, but just look at the sheer number of surface combatants at all sizes (1500 tons, 4000 tons, 7000 tons, 13,000 tons) that are equipped with twin tail towed sonar suites and standoff range ASW weapons, as well as the development and inevitable large scale procurement of ASW helicopters (Z-20F specifically, but also iterative variants of Z-9 and Z-18 for the ASW role) -- and how much further ahead the PLAN already are with their own SSK fleet that is virtually guaranteed to continue expanding in quantity and advancing in quality.... going for a fleet of SSKs might have been a very logical and in-time procurement decisions in the 2000s, but for the 2020s the ROCN will be facing a PLAN with an ASW capability that in 2020 is already very robust and likely to be a magnitude more capable by 2025 when the first IDS is received.



The fact that it was always on the cards for the PLAN to have a requirement to develop massively capable ASW capabilities to counter much more capable SSK and SSN fleets from other adversaries that operate in the region, means the PLAN doesn't really have to do anything different in its foreseeable future procurement or development strategy to "counter" the ROCN's SSK procurement, because their sights from the outset would've been to target much more capable foes to fry much bigger and more capable fish anyway, operating in the same region in which ROCN SSKs will be operating as well.

All this isn't to say that countering SSKs is "easy" --- but I am saying that the ROCN's procurement will basically be going up against a PLAN where ASW will be far from the relative weakness they had in yester-decade and is likely to be as mature in 5 years as their AAW capabilities became by circa the mid 2010s.


For ROC big ticket procurement the issue is always about "opportunity cost". Now, procuring a fleet of modern SSKs obviously has some certain industrial, and political/PR factors beyond their military utility alone (which of course do definitely exist) -- but would the money and effort spent on the SSKs have been better spent on say, a larger fleet of individually smaller SSKs? Or perhaps a fleet of small draft, AShM FACs (smaller than the Tuo Jiangs), or incentives to train and retain personnel in the army?
These questions are rhetorical, they are just meant to point out that opportunity cost does exist, and for the ROCN with a limited budget and a PLA that's developing to fight foes who are much more capable than the ROC in the air and naval domain, that is an important consideration.

IMHO, ROC procurement if they truly want a more asymmetric strategy, should be to procure systems and adopt doctrines that avoid the PLA's current or future/inevitable strong points that are expected to emerge.
The PLA in the westpac is seeking to fight a high intensity air-naval-missile conflict and is acquiring all of the weapons, sensors, battle management, and EW systems for such a conflict, from distances between China's immediate littorals out all the way into the open pacific. All of the domains -- A2A, strike/standoff strike, maritime strike, maritime surveillance, AEW&C, EW, ELINT/SIGINT, air defense, missile defense, amphibious assault (to an extent), naval ASuW, naval AAW, and yes, ASW as well -- that will be incorporated in such a conflict are areas that the PLA will pump the most effort and funding and force development into.
If I were the ROC, I would try to fund much of my efforts into areas where the PLA is not actively focused on -- i.e.: basically it just leaves urban/irregular ground warfare. Yes, the ROC procuring Harpoon missiles and some SSKs and mines are a fair asymmetric strategy, but those are all domains the PLA would've been heavily working towards to achieve capability in anyway.

OTOH, the PLA is not actively spending massive amounts of funding into urban/irregular warfare on the ground combat and the requisite ground and air-ground support systems for such battles efficient, so that would make a prime area for the ROC to try and exploit.
... The problem is such a strategy basically concedes or accepts an eventuality that the PLA will establish a beachhead and land boots on the ground, and unless the ROC military leadership and political leadership are willing for the populace to be willing to actively fight and suffer for the cause, and be seriously willing for Taiwan's major cities to experience the likes of Grozny or Fallujah, such a strategy would obviously never be accepted.

In that context, sure, acquiring SSKs makes sense, and is probably a less bad decision than procuring M1A2Ts or F-16Vs, but it still suffers from the same problem of being "not-really-asymmetrical" vs what the PLA is actively wanting to develop/developed.
If I were the ROCN, I'd just hope that the PLAN's ASW capabilities to 2025+ doesn't undergo the same massive advancement in capability that the PLAAF enjoyed in AEW&+BVR in 2000s to early 2010s or the PLAN's advancement of AAW from the mid 2000s to mid/late 2010s.
 

gelgoog

Captain
Registered Member
I think Taiwan should have acquired the entire wallop of air defenses Israel has. I mean everything from David's Sling to Arrow.
With their integrated air defense network. That would make an air assault on Taiwan a lot less likely and without air superiority an invasion is a lot less likely. Aircraft will be easy targets I think. Then they should build fast assault hovercraft with anti-ship missiles and not just in the numbers they have. Plus something like the Bastion-P system.
 

FangYuan

Junior Member
Registered Member
Air defense missiles and anti-aircraft systems are very expensive and difficult to mass produce

1. China can spam countless UAVs, glide bombs
2. China can use MLRS to fire thousands to dozens of missiles at Taiwan.

If the probability of a successful interception is 100%, it will take only 1-2 days for Taiwan to run out of anti-aircraft missiles. After that, what will Taiwan do to protect its airspace? This is the best scenario for Taiwan. The reality will be much worse
 

Mr T

Senior Member
In that context, sure, acquiring SSKs makes sense, and is probably a less bad decision than procuring M1A2Ts or F-16Vs, but it still suffers from the same problem of being "not-really-asymmetrical" vs what the PLA is actively wanting to develop/developed.

If I were the ROCN, I'd just hope that the PLAN's ASW capabilities to 2025+ doesn't undergo the same massive advancement in capability that the PLAAF enjoyed in AEW&+BVR in 2000s to early 2010s or the PLAN's advancement of AAW from the mid 2000s to mid/late 2010s.

I absolutely agree that the PLAN's ASW capabilities may improve significantly in a short period. However, if Taiwan only invests in things that China "can't" counter, we'll inevitably get back towards the old position of "Taiwan hasn't a hope, it should just give up".

Air force? The PLAAF will always have more planes, and in some cases better ones, plus its SAMs can blow up Taiwanese planes in its own airspace. UAVs? China is building lots of things to deal with them. Navy? The PLAN is much bigger. Mobile AShMs? They'll be sitting ducks for the PLAAF. Mobile SAMs? Taiwan will never be able to field enough, China will just build more missiles. Mining the beaches and coastal waters? China can just remove them at leisure once Taiwan's military is crippled from afar. Lots of coastal patrol submarines? They'll need to get close to PLAN ships and be vulnerable, or China can just blockade the island.

In short, whilst I appreciate your views are genuine, it is possible to criticise Taiwan's military strategy whatever it is. Much of deterrence isn't warning your enemy that you'll be able to defeat them but give them a nasty wound so they're less likely to attack on a pretext or whim.
 

Skywatcher

Captain
Skywatcher, I already made the point that if the PLAN was establishing a naval blockade, ships heading to Taiwan would not disclose that they were going there. There are so many ports in the area, it would be pretty easy to hide the final destination (or even just an interim stop in Taiwan).
For a far blockade, we're talking about a 1,000nm radius (more or less) around Taiwan? It seems we may have differing ideas as to what a far blockade might entail, it seems.

Second, can you please tell me, what makes you think that Taiwan-bound ships will file in an orderly queue towards PLAN vessels? The PLAN can't board every single vessel heading for East/SE Asia on the off-chance one is heading for Taiwan.
For instance Beijing can just check the insurance registry for merchant marine ships. Sailing to Taiwan in times of a blockade would result in much higher insurance premiums (or lack of insurance) for such Taiwan bound ships.

If China starts an invasion of Taiwan there will be little point in establishing a far blockade because few merchant ships will be sailing into a warzone unless they're heavily escorted. The conflict would probably be over in less than a month, one way or another.

Also, if China starts a far blockade it's going to tip its hand that it's quite possible an invasion will start. In any event I doubt Taiwan would send all its submarines out to try to break a blockade, not least because it would only need to break it in one place.
In that case, how likely would a combat scenario arise where the Mainland conducts a far blockade but isn't planning on engaging in an amphibious assault (or at least a warzone dangerous enough to shut off most maritime traffic)?

You could also, perhaps, address my point about the USN being able to attack Chinese shipping with plausible deniability due to using the same weapons that Taiwan has.
If the USN decides to attack Chinese shipping, why bother with deniability? It certainly won't be kept a secret for very long.

First, where are these aircraft going to be operating from? China doesn't have the wide range of airbases that the US or even UK does.
A MPA usually has an operational radius of around 1,000 nm. Modern MALE UCAS have much greater operational ranges.

Second, how on earth are they going to assess where a ship is going? They could identify that a vessel was in a particular location and its heading, but that's it. China can't just blow ships up because it suspects they might eventually go to Taiwan.
Hail it and demand a response. Come back a day later and see if said ship stays on its previously purported course.


As I've pointed out, the PLAN would have to spread its net fairly wide to stop ships getting to Taiwan. The PLAN can't choose where to intercept ships, because it won't easily know if they're headed for Taiwan. It will have to split up into small groups, probably just a couple of frigates or destroyers, to patrol certain sectors.
Again, it seems that we might have different ideas of what exactly constitutes a far blockade.

Also, there's the very simple fact that if Taiwan is expecting important deliveries then there's nothing to stop its submarines going to meet the ship(s) in transit and then escort them on the way in. Even if somehow China can find out if a ship is going to Taiwan, the Taiwanese government is going to know beforehand.
Escorting merchant marine ships with a submarine in wartime is a very bad idea, if the OPFOR has capable MPAs (and other ASW tools).

Back to the smaller submarines, even if we ignore the far blockade, what would stop the PLAN from sinking them with its ASW platforms? Smaller submarines will have a shorter range, which would make it easier for the PLAN to concentrate its ASW efforts.

Anyway, the discussion is academic. The submarines' size has been fixed, and Taiwan isn't going to build smaller ones.
Assuming that the chances for detection for a SSP and a coastal defense submarine (SSC) are equal, then the loss of one SSC would represent only the loss of 5% of one's submarine combat power, as opposed to 12.5% (SSCs are usually less detectable than larger submarines in littoral waters like the Straits, especially for first time submarine builders)
 
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Skywatcher

Captain
I think submarines are a necessary part of the navy, as they are the best counter for PLAN’s superior surface fleet (and ASW weakness).

Problem with ROCN is they are two steps behind and PLAN has been rapidly addressing this. They are pumping out Y-8 ASW. Also the overflights could be training/data collection.

Also, a distinct possibility is by the time ROCN puts SS into service, you have Z-20 ASW and even KJ-600 ASW.

ROCN almost needs to make a leapfrog type move to make this project worthwhile.
Not to mention unmanned ASW assets
 

Skywatcher

Captain
I absolutely agree that the PLAN's ASW capabilities may improve significantly in a short period. However, if Taiwan only invests in things that China "can't" counter, we'll inevitably get back towards the old position of "Taiwan hasn't a hope, it should just give up".

Air force? The PLAAF will always have more planes, and in some cases better ones, plus its SAMs can blow up Taiwanese planes in its own airspace. UAVs? China is building lots of things to deal with them. Navy? The PLAN is much bigger. Mobile AShMs? They'll be sitting ducks for the PLAAF. Mobile SAMs? Taiwan will never be able to field enough, China will just build more missiles. Mining the beaches and coastal waters? China can just remove them at leisure once Taiwan's military is crippled from afar. Lots of coastal patrol submarines? They'll need to get close to PLAN ships and be vulnerable, or China can just blockade the island.

In short, whilst I appreciate your views are genuine, it is possible to criticise Taiwan's military strategy whatever it is. Much of deterrence isn't warning your enemy that you'll be able to defeat them but give them a nasty wound so they're less likely to attack on a pretext or whim.
The main thing is for Taipei to build large numbers of assets that can be suffer extensive attrition without too much pain (i.e. HIFVs, unmanned ground vehicles (especially since the first PLA wave probably won't have very many MBTs), long range self propelled artillery and mobile medium range SAMs).
 

Skywatcher

Captain
A small number of relevant subs already constitutes an incredible complication in naval operations. Even against a very capable ASW force.

Even more: even "ancient", but postwar submarine with a competent crew can in some circumstances punish a much more advanced, but arrogant and overconfident foe. Arcane art of underwater warfare can bring surprises, and easily punishes complacency.

Ah, and also: as all other ocean-going ships, sub isn't bolted to one small region: even if it won't be deployed elsewhere, attacker has no choice but to take this possibility into account elsewhere.

This is why subs are so popular in unequal matchups. Even if they can't tip the balance, they're really good at being pain in the ass.

Low speed doesn't prevent conventional subs from fulfilling their role: they're positioned in a way to let the opponent come to them.
And there was no massive revolutions in non-nuclear submarine speeds since late ww2 until right about now(li-ion changes things somewhat).


Reliably making quick work of a huge Island fortress is an optimistic bet.
Blockade is meant to prevent things from coming from both directions, including the outside. In the worst scenario for an attacker, it at least buys time for possible intervention to come.

A blockade strong enough can prevent intervention altogether; a flicky blockade with sinkings here and there won't be as much of a deterrent.

Summing up, submarines matter.
The problem with the current ROCN submarine strategy is that even losing a couple submarine could be a crippling blow (especially given current PLA ASW capabilities and future stuff like unmanned systems), especially if say, only 5-6 SSPs are available with 2-3 undergoing dockyard maintainance.

Smaller submarines have pretty much all the same advantages, and losing one isn't as bad as losing a larger submarine.
 

ZeEa5KPul

Senior Member
Registered Member
we'll inevitably get back towards the old position of "Taiwan hasn't a hope, it should just give up".
Well, that's just the bitter (for you) truth.

It's somewhat amusing to me the efforts members here go to try and craft strategies for an utterly lost position. The only strategy Taiwanese soldiers have is to tie their undershirts to sticks and wave them.
 

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