THE RISING SEA DRAGON IN ASIA - 2006 UPDATE
By Jeff Head - Last Update: January 26, 2013
Throughout 2005 and 2006 the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has continued its unprecedented modernization and buildup, working on and procuring twelve seperate classes of major combatants. Increasing numbers of new guided missile destroyers, guided missile frigates, fast attack craft, very modern and quiet diesel/electric attack submarines, nuclear attack submarines, nuclear ballistic missile submarines, logisitic support craft, amphibious assault craft, and the infrastructure and aircraft to support them are being built. The PLAN has now settled on several classes of vessels to be built in serial production after several years of testing and evaluation of initial production runs of two each of those vessels.
Pictures paint a thousand words, so pictures of each area of interest and concern are included, accompanied by a brief explanation:
The two Type 52C Lanzhou, perhaps a third, Aegis-like guided-missile destroyers are in service. An improved version is under construction with eight projected.
Finally, China is building hundreds of very modern, thrid generation fighter and attack aircraft and the support aircraft (like AEW and AWACS aircraft) to go with them. Severasl of the fighters, like the J-11 (SU-27 derivitave), the SU-30, the J-10 and the JF-17 are capable of design versions that could be carrier capable. The PLAN is known to have been in recent, serious disacussion with the Russians dealing with the SU-33, the SU-27 derivitave that Russia developed for its Kuznetsov carrier, the sister ship to the Varyag.
Again, as mentioned in the 2005 Update to this site, while the Chinese experience level with all of this new equipment is lacking and very much inferior to the decades and decades of practical experience the United States Navy has, there is no doubt that the Chinese are embarked on a path to challenge that experience and dominance of the U.S. Navy in the region at some point. If within range of large numbers of land-based aircraft and missiles, and if coupled with modern, capable weapons systems like the Sunburn or Yahkont missiles and perhaps supercavitiating torpedo technology, a credible threat to American naval operations in the western Pacific could be posed in the next several years.
It bears watching and serious consideration.
Copyright © 2005-2012 by Jeff Head
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