THE RISING SEA DRAGON IN ASIA - 2011 UPDATE
By Jeff Head - Last Update: February 1, 2012
(Click on any image for a larger picture)
The year of 2010 has seen the PLAN ramp up its shipbuilding again significantly. New units of the Type 054A FFG Guided missiles Frigate, the Jiangkai II Class with radar reducing signatures, VLS missiles and helo capabilities. New units of the Type 052C DDG Guided missile Desroyer, the Lanzhou Class with VLS, Phased Array Radar (PAR), and an AEGIS style battle management system. New units of the Type 093 SSN, Nuclear attack Submarine, the Shang Class, with improved reactors, sensors, and weapons suite. New units of the SSK Independent Air Propulsion diesel/electric attack submarine, the Yuan Class, which are very quiet and dangerous in litoral waters. A second Type 071 LPD, Landing Platform Dock, the Kunlunshan Class, which is similar in size, function and basic configuration to the US San Antonio Class LPD, with a well deck, large helo platform and hanger, and strong self defense. Significant progress on the former Varyag Carrier, the Shi Lang, which is now in final outfitting stages with itts sensor and weapons suite being installed as this is written.
Ongoing exercises of the many new units the PLAN has introduced into its fleets continues to improve their performance and ability to operaate cohesively with their new technology, particularly as surface action groups and task forces. This will continue at an increased tempo once their new carrier is launched and introduced into the fleet.
In addition, right at the end of the year, the PLAAF rolled out for taxi tests its first prototype stealth fighter, the J-20. This was sooner than most analysts had expected and intorduces the Chinese into the fifth generation stealth fighter areana.
These developments represent continued and significant progress by the PLAN in establishing itself as a blue water presence, capable of extending itself far from its coasts, out to and beyond the 2nd island chain. They have continued to demonstrate their ability to do this and sustain strong surface action task forces in the international effort to control the piracy off the Somali coast, maintaining warships and replenishment ships in the area over long periods of time.
CONTINUED SERIAL PRODUCTION OF THE STRONG GUIDED MISSILE FRIGATE, THE JIANGKAI II CLASS
RESUMPTION OF SERIAL PRODUCTION OF THE LANZHOU CLASS DDG, THE PLAN AEGIS-LIKE DDG
A SECOND, NEW LPD OF THE KUNLUNSHAN CLASS LAUNCHED
MORE JUAN CLASS DIESEL/ELECTRIC SUBS & SHANG CLASS NUCLEAR ATTACK SUBS
THE PLAN IS FINALIZING WEAPONS AND SENSOR FITTING ON ITS NEW CARRIER, THE SHILANG (Former Varyag)
THE PLAAF ROLLS OUT ITS FIRST STEALTH FIGHTER, THE J-20
The PLAAF 1st Prototype Stealth Fighter, the J-20, in Taxi tests
On January 11th, the PLAAF conducted a test flight of the new fighter. As there has been a lot of speculation and comparison, here are a set of images comparing the USAF F-22 Raptor (which has been produced in numbers of about 180 to date), with the PLAAF J-20:
PLAAF J-20 STEALTH FIGHTER
Finally, in addition, as stated in last year's update of 2010, the PLAN continues to build all of the support aircraft and structres necessary to project their growing naval forces. They are keeping in line with their own stated purposes of extending their power and ability to protect their interests out well beyond their coatsal waters, out to and beyond the second Island chain in the western Pacific. As one of their leaders lately stated, “In the coming five years, our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction,” said Liang Guanglie in an interview published by several state-backed newspapers in China. “We may.be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away,” Liang added. The PLAN is developing its systems and support systems in line with these sentiments.
THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC CONTINUES TO GROW ITS OVERALL AWACS AND ELINT CAPABILITY
THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC CONTINUES TO GROW ITS OVERALL 4TH GENERATION FIGHTER & ATTACK AIRCRAFT
Clearly the overall trend shows that the PLAN continues to rapidly close the gap between itself and the US Navy, and particualrly when focusing on the Western Pacific, which is where the PLAN is concentrated. This is a trend that continues to be worthy of serious contemplation for future US Navy and other western nation's planning and acquisition schedules.
Copyright © 2005-2012 by Jeff Head
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