US Navy & PLAN - South China Sea Situation News (Closed)

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  1. Jeff Head
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    US NAVY & CHINESE NAVY IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

    Introduction

    This thread is specifically for exercises where the US Navy and/or the PLAN are conducting Freedom of Navigation (FON) (US Navy) exercises, or efforts to shadow the FON, or seeking to interfere with or curtail them near the Chinese Islands (PPLAN).

    Specifically, the thread is about the very specific classes of vessels that the two nations might employ in the South China Sea for these specific means..

    Be aware: THI IS NOT A CONFLICT OR WAR THREAD.

    No actual speculation over warfare and fighting between the US and the PRC will be discussed. However, it is important to note the type of vessels that may be called upon to be a part of the exercises named. SD prides itself on professionalism and on accurate date in such situations.

    This thread is simply attempting to provide a place for that and relive other SCS Strategy Pages on SD of the undoubtedly large amount of volume over this specific issue now that it has arisen.


    Otherwise, feel free to report news, photos, videos, and information regarding these types of exercises here.

    Summary
    China has performed massive reclamation work on seven reefs in the south China Sea and created large islands in their place. The PRC claims the whole of the waters around all of these islands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea as its "territorial waters," including any 12 mile limit normally attached to such territorial claims.

    See the following map:

    PRC-Spratley.jpg

    For more info, pictures, etc. see:

    Flickr Album: PRC Reclamation in the south China Sea

    The US Navy claims Freedom of Navigation rights in international waters across the globe.

    According to the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty, any artificial island built atop a reef that is submerged during low tide conditions is not afforded a 12-mile limit. In those cases the treaty calls for a 500 meter limit, similar to Oil Rigs.

    But the Islands the Chinese have created are large, and on three of them they are building 10,000 foot long airfields and many buildings and enhancements, including radar sites, docks, jetties, administrative buildings, and housing and other structures for Chinese military personnel, their families, and Chinese citizens,

    The US Navy had already, on numerous occasions, sailed its naval vessels through the South China Sea to punctuate overall FON there despite the PRC's claim to the whole of the area. .

    Now, with the new Islands, the US announced its intent, and then carried out that intent on October 26, 2015, to specifically sail within 12 miles of the islands to further punctuate its FON claims.

    The Chinese have protested this action and now there is a potential for continuing tensions and conflict.

    This Analysis

    For the purposes of this analysis, the airfields that China would have on the islands and north on the mainland, and the US aircraft carriers that could be involved are not included in detail.

    But to note, the PRC is building three ten thousand foot airfields on their newly created islands (where they used massive reclamation efforts to accomplish). These are at Subi Reef, Mischief Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef. The three islands are mutually supportive forming a triangle, with each island roughly 150 miles apart. In addition, China could rely on aircraft from its large base on Island right off of their southwestern coast, and many airfields further inland on the mainland.

    The US Navy has one carrier battle group forward deployed in Japan, one typically in the Hawaiian area, and three more normally on the West Coast of the United States which are assigned to the Pacific. Each carrier battle group consists of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier with approximately 70 aircraft, which is generally escorted by two Ticonderoga AEGHIS cruisers, two Arleigh Burke AEGIS destroyers, and one or two nuclear attack submarines.

    Having said that, each nation has a number of ship classes, ranging from destroyers to frigates and submarines who would likely be the first units involved in any crisis. These include (Listed here and on following pages):

    US Navy Combatants likely to be involved in the South China Sea

    Arleigh Burke Flight IIA AEGIS Destroyer (62 in inventory, five more building)

    The Arleigh Burke destroyers are recognized as the most effective, largest class of modern multi-role destroyers available to any navy. Several other allied navies have built their own versions of these destroyers (including Australia, Japan, Korea, and others in Europe) in addition to the large US fleet.

    These vessels are heavily armed, have very modern/advanced sensors, and are capable of cooperative battle management...meaning their systems can either be slaved to, or take control of, other cooperative engagement enables units.

    62 have been commissioned, another two launched, and another five building. Ultimately, with the new Flight II vessels that will start building in two years, there will be upwards of 90 of these vessels in the US Navy inventory.

    Here are their specifications:

    Length: 513 ft (155m)
    Beam: 66 ft (20m)
    Draft: 31 ft (9m)
    Displace (Full Load): 9,200 tons
    Propulsion: 4 GE LM2500, Gas Turbines; two shafts
    Speed: 31 knots
    Range: 4,400 nautical miles (20 knots)
    Crew: 370
    Armament:
    - 32 cell Mk-41 VLS For SM-2, Tomahawk, ESSM
    - 64 cell Mk-41 VLS Aft SM-2, Tomahawk, ASROC
    - 1 X 127mm MK-45 DP Gun
    - 2 x 30mm CIWS
    - 2 x 25mm auto cannons
    - 6 X Mk-46 LW Torpedoes
    Helicopter(s): 2 SH-60 Seahawk

    Here are pictures of the vessel:

    Burke-FlightIIA-01.jpg

    Burke-FlightIIA-02.jpg

    Burke-FlightIIA-03.jpg

    Burke-FlightIIA-04.jpg

    1/350 scale model of Burke Flight IIA AEGIS Destroyer​

    Burke-FlightIIA-05.jpg
     
    #1 Jeff Head, Oct 27, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
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  2. Jeff Head
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    Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship (3 in inventory five more building)

    The Littoral Combat Ships are the US Navy's newest frigate. After a rough development cycle, where weaknesses in armament and combat endurance were identified. Now these vessels are being built in numbers (actually two different classes, but the Freedom class is the version recently deployed to the South China Sea).

    They are very fast and maneuverable, well armed, and very network centric.

    A total of six LCS have been commissioned to date, and 3-4 will be commissioned yearly for the foreseeable future until the full inventory of 56 vessels is reached.

    Here are their specifications.

    Length: 380 ft
    Beam: 57 ft
    Draft: 12 ft
    Displacement: 3,100 tons
    Speed Freedom: 47 knots
    Crew Freedom: Up to 110
    Propulsion:
    - 2 Rolls-Royce MT30 36MW Gas Turbines
    - 2 Colt Diesels, 4 Rolls-Royce waterjets
    - 2 shafts
    Armament:
    - 01 × RAM launcher, 21 missiles
    - 08 × SSM (Long Range)
    - 24 x ASM (Short range - Hellfire Missiels)
    - 01 × Mk 110 57 mm gun
    - 02 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
    Airwing: 2 MH-60 & 2 MQ-8 VTUAVs

    Here are pictures of the vessel:

    Freedom-LCS-01.jpg

    Freedom-LCS-02.jpg

    Freedom-LCS-03.jpg

    Freedom-LCS-04.jpg

    1/350 Scale model of the Freedom Class LCS​

    Freedom-LCS-05.jpg
     
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    Virginia Class nuclear powered attack submarines (14 in inventory, five more building)

    The Virginia Class nuclear powered attack submarines are the US Navy's newest and most capable nuclear powered submarines. 14 of them have been launched and ultimately 30-40 of them will be built.

    They are fast, very quiet, and heavily armed.

    They would be augmented by the three larger and even more heavily armed Sea Wolf class subs, and the remaining older, but very capable Los Angles Class submarines which the Virginias are replacing.

    Here are their specifications:

    Length: 377 ft
    Beam: 34 ft
    Displacement: 7,800 tons
    Speed: 25 knots
    Crew: 134
    Propulsion: GE S9G Nuclear Reactor, 30Mw, 1 shaft
    Max Depth: Greater than 800 ft.
    Armament:
    - 12 x VLS Tomahawk Missiles
    - 4 X 533mm for 26 ADCAP Mk48 Torpedoes, MK 60 Captor Mines, & Sub-Harpoon missiles.

    Here are pictures of the vessel:

    Virginia-SSN-01.jpg

    Virginia-SSN-02.jpg

    Virginia-SSN-03.jpg

    Virginia-SSN-04.jpg

    1/350 Scale Model of Virginia Class SSN​

    Virginia-SSN-05.jpg
     
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    Chinese Navy (PLAN) combatants likely to be involved in the south China Sea

    Type 052D Destroyer (3 in inventory, five more building)

    The Type 052D destroyer is the Chinese Navy's (PLAN) newest and most capable multi-role destroyer. They are similar in function to the US Navy Arleigh Burke destroyers and carry 64 VLS cells capable of multiple missile types (similar to the MK 41 VLS System carried on US ships).

    They have anew, more powerful APAR radar system and battle management system.

    Three of these have been commissioned, another three launched, and up to twelve more are planned.

    Here are their specifications:

    Length: 505 ft (154m)
    Beam: 56 ft (17m)
    Draft: 20 ft (6m)
    Displace (Full Load): app. 7,400 tons
    Propulsion: 2 QC-280, CODOG, two shafts
    Speed: 33 knots
    Range: est. 5,000 nautical miles (20 knots)
    Crew: 280
    Armament:
    - 32 cell VLS fore
    - 32 cell VLS aft
    - 1 X 130mm DP Gun
    - 1 X Type 730 30mm CIWS
    - 1 X FL-3000N launcher (24 missiles)
    - 4 X 18 ASW MLRS
    - 2 X 3 YU-7 Torpedoes
    Helicopter(s): Pad and hanger - 1 x KA-27 ASW helicopter

    Here are pictures of the vessel:

    Type-052D-01.jpg

    Type-052D-02.jpg

    Type-052D-03.jpg

    Type-052D-04.jpg

    1/350 Scale Model of Type 052D Destroyer​

    Type-052D-05.jpg
     
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    Type 052C Destroyer (6 in inventory)

    The Type 052C destroyer was the forerunner to the Type 052C. They are built on the same hull. The Type 052C has less VLS cells (48 vs 64) and they cannot carry as many different missiles as the Type 052D.

    Their APAR radar system is also not as strong as that carried on the Type 052D.

    Nonetheless, these are very capable multi-role destroyers and have the PLAN's initial AEGIS -like combat system.

    Here are their specifications:

    Length: 505 ft (154m)
    Beam: 56 ft (17m)
    Draft: 20 ft (6m)
    Displace (Full Load): 7,200 tons
    Propulsion: 2 DA80/DN80, CODOG, two shafts
    Speed: 33 knots
    Range: est. 5,000 nautical miles (20 knots)
    Crew: 280
    Armament:
    - 36 cell VLS HQ-9 fore
    - 12 cell VLS HQ-9 aft
    - 8 X YJ-1X SSM
    - 1 X 100mm DP Gun
    - 2 X Type 730 30mm CIWS
    - 4 X 18 MRLS
    - 6 X YU-7 Torpedoes
    Helicopter(s): Pad and hanger - 1 x KA-27 ASW helicopter

    Here are pictures of the vessel:

    Type-052C-01.jpg

    Type-052C-02.jpg

    Type-052C-03.jpg

    Type-052C-04.jpg

    1/350 Scale model of the Type 052C Destroyer​

    Type-052C-05.jpg
     
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    Type 054A Frigate (23 in inventory, 2 more building)

    The Type 054A is the PLAN's mainstay guided missile frigate. They are armed very well for a multi-role frigate and are powerful combatants in their own right.

    The PLAN has commissioned 23 of these, and five more are at various stages of construction.

    It is expected that a newer version, the Type 054B will soon be announced and start building.

    Here are their specifications:

    Length: 134m
    Beam: 16m.
    Draft: 6m
    Displace (Full): 4,000 ton
    Propulsion:
    - MAN Diesel SA 16 PA6V-280 STC diesel engines, 2 shafts
    - 4,720kW (6,330hp) ea.
    - 18,880kW (25,320hp) toal
    Speed: 30+ knots
    Range: 6,500 nautical miles (18 knots) est.
    Crew: 250 est.
    Armament:
    - 1 x 32 VLS 9M38/HQ-16 MR AAM
    - 8 x YJ-83 SSM
    - 1 x 76mm DP Gun
    - 2 x Type 730 30mm CIWS, 5800 rpm, 3000 m
    - 6 x 533mm torpedoes
    - 2 x Type 87 240mm, 6 tube anti-sub rocket launchers. 36 rockets 1,200m
    Helicopter(s): Pad and hanger - 1 x KA-27 ASW helicopter

    Here are pictures of the vessel:

    Type-054A-01.jpg

    Type-054A-02.jpg

    Type-054A-03.jpg

    Type-054A-04.jpg

    1/350 Scale models of the Type 054A Frigate​

    Type-054A-05.jpg
     
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    Type 039A Juan Class diesel/electric submarine (14 in inventory, more building)

    The Yuan class diesel/electric submarine is a very capable vessel.

    They are quiet and have an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system allowing them to remain submerged for much longer periods of time.

    They are quiet and very effective in shallower waters.

    14 of these have been built and more of a newer version are currently under construction.

    Here are their specifications:

    Length: 77.6 m (254 ft 7 in)
    Beam: 8.4 meters
    Draft: 6.7 meter square
    Displacement: 3,600 t (3,500 long tons)
    Propulsion: Diesel-electric, 1 shaft, AIP
    Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
    Crew: 65
    Armament:
    - 6 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes, Anti-Ship missiles

    Here are pictures of the vessel:

    Yuan-SSK-01.jpg

    Yuan-SSK-02.jpg

    Yuan-SSK-03.jpg

    Yuan-SSK-04.jpg

    1/350 Scale model of the Yuan Class SSK​

    Yuan-SSK-05.jpg
     
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    I'm not sure if this is true -- I've gone through back a few of the interviews and statements which the foreign ministry have made, and I can't see them anywhere explicitly stating that they claim a 12nm territorial zone around the reclaimed islands.

    This is what I posted in the other SCS island thread:
    I think it is very, very telling that the spokesman said "illegally entered waters near relevant islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands without the permission of the Chinese government," rather than describing it as within the 12nm limit.
    I think that suggests they are calling the passage of USS Lassen "illegal" in the sense that it made passage within within the 200km EEZ of Taiping island (which is defined as an island and thus generates an EEZ, and encompasses both Subi and Mischief reefs and the waters around them) -- and of course China's interpretation on the EEZ issue is that foreign nations cannot conduct military surveillance in an EEZ without a host nation's permission.

    So in that sense, I don't think China is claiming a 12nm limit around the islands at all and thus is not breaking any UNCLOS, but rather the reason for its actions and words up to now could simply be explained by the difference in position regarding the issue of surveillance within EEZs. I think the reason China is deliberately being vague about this, is to avoid giving the US or other claimants the initiative in knowing where to put pressure on China's actual position.

    I would suggest that the 12 nm territorial limit statement be modified, or at least rechecked against other Chinese MFA statements to see if they've ever stated such a claim. Because it seems like the 12nm limit has been one which is assumed to have been claimed by China by many foreign media and the USN and US government, rather than China itself.

    ====

    I'm also not sure if it's very helpful by listing all the ships and weapons both sides have in the opening post of this thread, which may give off the wrong impression that both sides are inevitably headed towards conflict...
     
  9. Blackstone
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    Great write-up, Jeff. What about the Sovs, 056 Corvettes, 053H3, Hubei FAC, Song Class subs, and the various maritime patrol aircrafts and UAVs China could bring to the table, and in greater numbers than US aircrafts and UAVs.
     
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