Tag Archives: PLAN

Our Future Anti-China Military Strategy

This article is three months old, but I think it’s an interesting summary of how AirSea Battle will be focusing our future development efforts into some specific subject areas.

Jim H

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http://news.usni.org/2013/10/30/future-air-sea-battle

The Future of Air Sea Battle

By: Sam LaGrone and Dave Majumdar

Published: October 30, 2013 4:39 AM

The Pentagon is taking its next steps in developing the often misunderstood and occasionally controversial Air-Sea Battle concept, according to several USNI News interviews with Navy and defense officials.

The effort is the latest from the Air-Sea Battle Office (ASBO), a group of 20-some military intellectuals who have been struggling on how to counter what the Pentagon sees as its toughest problems in the wake of more than a decade of low-intensity ground conflicts: anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategies.

A2/AD is an age-old strategy that stiff-arms a military force, preventing opponents from accessing a physical position on the sea, land or the air.

For a time, for example, the Great Wall of China denied the Mongol hordes access to China’s interior. Likewise, minefields prevent an infantry unit from operating on a particular piece of land. Anti-air missiles prevent fighters and bombers from striking more difficult targets in a protected area.

Typically the strategy was—and is—used by an inferior military to contain a larger, more sophisticated force, and blunt its attacking power.

As the United States was focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, threats to U.S. abilities to operate freely with its military have increased—such as cheaper longer-range guided missiles—making it harder for U.S. forces to access areas in which they would like to operate.

A global rise in sophisticated weapons technology, combined with the U.S. focus on the ground wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, has allowed American proficiency in countering A2/AD threats to slip.

“We’ve lost some skills and let them wither, because it wasn’t required in operations in the past,” one defense official told USNI News.

Enter ASBO.

At its onset the Air-Sea Battle Office was tasked with taking knowledge from the Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force, understanding with exhaustive detail the tactics and equipment the services used to handle A2/AD threats, and then providing commanders on the ground with solutions to solve the problem using the material they had on hand.

The goal is for the U.S. military to, “go into an area, [and when] someone throws up jammers, somebody throws out mines, somebody throws out submarines as a threat to your surface ships . . . you know right away what to do about it,” Rear Adm. James Foggo, the Navy’s head of operations, plans and strategy told USNI News earlier this month.

At the beginning, the ASBO acted like a help desk for the A2/AD fight. Commanders would initially reach out to the office and the ASBO would give them options on how to use their existing equipment to deal with anti-access threats.

“The beauty of the concept is it focuses the services on what the problems are. That’s become a very useful lens,” a defense official familiar with the ASBO told USNI News. “It’s the disrupt, destroy and defeat approach that Air Sea battle embraces that talks about a different way of waging war. It applies an operational design on how you would do that against an adversary that [has] multiple types of these capabilities.”

The early help-desk approach has evolved into a more sophisticated set of goals, outlined in the ten mission areas where the United States needs in improve.

These areas—ranging from how to protect assets in space to waging war at sea—all point to capabilities the military has let atrophy while the focus was on the largely low intensity occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, one defense official told USNI News. “It was the outside-the-Pentagon folks who guided us to these ten mission focus areas,” a defense official told USNI News. “We’re talking to the fleets and forces and they’re helping us rationalize our priorities.”

Pentagon officials provided USNI News a list of the ten areas the ASBO singled out for additional work:

Cross-Domain Operations Command-and-Control (C2)

A fundamental task of any military is telling forces where to go and what to do when they get there. In ASB, the challenge is to efficiently coordinate air, land and sea forces together effectively where seconds count. The Pentagon has several systems in place to undertake the C2 role. An ASB challenge would be to integrate the systems, which do not all communicate with each other.

Undersea Warfare Supremacy

Submarines are a powerful weapon in denying an adversary access in the ocean. Several countries in Southeast Asia have been buying quiet diesel-electric submarines best suited for short-range patrols close to shore. U.S. nuclear submarines can better project power far from shore and the in open ocean, but likely are louder than their diesel-electric counterparts. The area also implies the United States could do more in the anti-submarine warfare realm in detecting an adversary’s submarines before they can do damage to the Navy’s forces.

War at Sea

The U.S. Navy has focused its surface fleet on anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense roles with its Aegis cruisers and destroyers. Additionally, the Navy’s new littoral combat ships are more oriented toward operations closer to shore. Open-ocean and ship-to-ship warfare has not been a priority for the Navy for years; there has been little development in modern anti-ship weapons. The Pentagon has only recently launched the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile program to counter some the newer threats. Iran, China and Russia have heavily invested in ships having the primary function of fighting other ships.

Attack Operations to Defeat A2/AD

Attacking elements of an A2/AD strategy to prepare for a larger follow-on force. This could include using a combination of penetrating strike assets, such as a long-range U.S. Air Force stealth bomber or fifth-generation fighter alongside cruise missiles, electronic attacks and cyber-warfare to target the means by which the enemy is conducting its A2/AD strategy. This could mean attacking command-and-control nodes, eliminating surface-to-air missile batteries and coastal defenses or even knocking out launch sites for the so called “carrier killer” missiles or even disrupting enemy infrastructure by hacking their electrical grids.

Active and Passive Defense

Active defense uses military power to deny an enemy a specific piece of territory by physically attacking potential threats before it can launch its weapons. One example would be to sink an enemy submarine before got into position to launch its cruise missiles. Passive defense is designed to resist attacks in a specific area by hardening, camouflaging or dispensing forces and could mean intercepting incoming enemy weapons. The Air-Sea Battle concept would integrate the separate systems the services use already to execute both.

Distributed Basing

Instead of operating from a large single land base, distributed basing spreads out a force across several different semi-prepared positions making it harder for an adversary to target. As the United States consolidates its bases in the Pacific, it has explored operating from other bases in the event of a conflict. For example, the United States could be using airstrips in the Philippines for military aircraft. Potentially, entirely new airstrips could be cleared out for temporary use as needed—as was the case during World War II.

Contested Space Operations

Securing U.S. assets in space, such as satellites. Ship-based missiles have been able to successfully shoot down satellites in the past. But this does not necessarily require armoring up satellites or that space vehicles need to maneuver to avoid threats; it could simply mean securing against the jamming of satellite communications or GPS signals. Additionally it could entail securing U.S. satellite ground stations from physical or cyber attack, which for an enemy are easier options than a physical attack on an orbiting satellite. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, it could mean attacking enemy satellites, their signals, or ground stations either by kinetic or electronic means.

Contested Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)

How to provide forces the information they need to operate and make battlefield and strategic decisions in combat. Most current U.S. ISR platforms are designed for operations in permissive environments, but in an A2/AD environment, the enemy will fight to prevent U.S. forces from conducting surveillance. That means assets that are useful in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan—a Predator or Reaper—may not be useful over Iran or China because both states have the means to shoot them down. ISR data will therefore have to be gathered by penetrating stealth platforms: fifth-generation fighters, the USAF’s future LRS-B, or some sort of low-observable unmanned aircraft. Other options include using space or cyber assets. Another pressing concern in a communications degraded/denied environment is getting the data back to analysts so it may be processed—which may not be an easy task. That data will also have to be analyzed without overburdening intelligence personnel, as was the case over the past 10 years.

Contested Logistics and Sustainment

This area deals with establishing and defending supply lines during a conflict. Given the distances American forces operate from U.S. shores, logistics can an Achilles’ heel. A smart enemy will attack the logistical train that keeps U.S. forces at the front line going—via any number of methods, ranging from kinetic attacks on port facilities and airstrips to cyber attacks on DOD computers.

Contested Cyberspace Operations

Cyber warfare is the least transparent of military operations. The bulk of cyber is maintaining and securing existing communications networks. Offensive cyber operations—exploiting enemy computer networks to gain an equivalent affect from a so-called kinetic weapon—are closely guarded by the military. But cyber can also be used as means of gathering intelligence or feeding disinformation to the enemy. Without doubt, cyber will be one of the most important “battlefields” in future warfare, as U.S. forces are entirely dependent on networks to conduct operations.

Next Steps

The feedback from the ten mission areas —as part an “implementation master plan”—will get further evaluation in November, Foggo told USNI News.

The office will then, “bring individuals into D.C. as representatives of the combatant commands, the numbered fleets and the numbered air forces and sit down at the table and say, ‘Let’s put all this stuff out here on how we collate, how do we bring this together, how do we distribute and disseminate,’” Foggo said.

Primarily the interactions just now are not with the Pentagon’s combatant commanders, but to service offices that provide forces to the regional commands around the world. It’s up to those commands to decide which of the ten areas are the highest priority.

“They are not prioritized on purpose. We don’t see that as our role. That’s for them—the ones out in the field—to prioritize,” Foggo said.

“It’s going to vary by geographic location. Say you’re the [Central Command], you think about the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, what’s the most important thing? Maintaining access in the Strait of Hormuz. What’s the easiest way to shut it down? Clandestinely—probably with mines. Your priority in mine warfare might be higher than [Africa Command] commander’s priority or the [European Command] commander’s priority. It depends what the COMCOM is looking at.”

The hope for the Pentagon and the services is the ASBO will be able to improve skills and techniques in a low-cost method. As the office interacts with the services the best practices across the services will trickle down to the way they buy equipment and create and improve doctrine through a continued series of plans.

“It’s a living and breathing and evolving thing. This year the implementation will be ready in 2014, there will be another one the next year,” Foggo said. “The joint force has come together on how to operate in an anti-access environment so it’s just seamless.”

The Bell Continues to Toll

This outstanding weapon system will be a great compliment to the LRASM under development (or maybe that’s the other-way-around, since the JSOW C-1 is much further along its development track).  Air-dropped and networked, this is another weapon that can be delivered by (for example) F-18s that can then break off, leaving guidance to other aircraft flying beyond the range of shipborne air defenses.  This article references guidance provided by an E-2D, but as mentioned in the last paragraph it could also come from P-3C Orion–and hence the new P-8A Poseidon replacement for the P-3–and the E-8C JSTARS.  I’m quite confident that guidance could also be provided by/relayed through the MQ-4C Triton UAS.

Displacedjim

E-2D_Hawkeye_FeaturesE-2D Hawkeye

Raytheon’s Joint Standoff Weapon C-1 demonstrates networked capability with E-2D aircraft

Weapon showcases interoperability, flexibility

TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and the U.S. Navy demonstrated the capability of the newest version of the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1 by establishing communications among an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft, an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft and the JSOW C-1.

The test was part of the Navy’s Trident Warrior 2013 demonstration in July. During the demonstration, fighters simulated the launch of a JSOW C-1 while the E-2D directed the weapon toward the positively identified target. The E-2D aircraft also received status updates sent from the JSOW C-1.

“The success of the Trident Warrior 2013 demonstration proves the feasibility of providing the fleet a means of executing the complete kill chain with carrier-based assets utilizing the F/A-18E/F, JSOW C-1 and E-2D to engage maritime targets at range,” said Cmdr. Errol Campbell, the U.S. Navy’s Precision Strike Weapons program office deputy program manager for the JSOW program.

Additionally, the team was able to track and designate a target; simulate the launch of the JSOW; send, receive and acknowledge target updates; and receive bomb hit indication data from the weapon.

“This test further verifies the flexibility and seamless plug-and-play connectivity of JSOW C-1’s network-enabled capability,” said Celeste Mohr, JSOW program director for Raytheon Missile Systems. “The test demonstrates the relative ease with which the U.S. Navy can build on the ongoing integration of the JSOW C-1 on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 and expand the interoperability and connectivity to a fielded carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning aircraft.”

In 2009, the Navy performed a similar demonstration of connectivity and interoperability among sensor platforms, a shooting platform and the JSOW C-1 during the Joint Surface Warfare Joint Capability Technology Demonstration. This demonstration involved a P-3 Orion aircraft’s littoral surveillance radar system and an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft.

About the Joint Standoff Weapon

JSOW is a family of low-cost, air-to-ground weapons that employs an integrated GPS-inertial navigation system and terminal imaging infrared seeker. JSOW C-1 adds the two-way Strike Common Weapon Datalink to the combat-proven weapon, enabling a moving maritime target capability. JSOW C-1 will provide an advanced anti-surface warfare solution on the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft.

China begins mass production of J-15 fighter planes for aircraft carrier

Shenyang J-15 fighter aircraftShenyang J-15 fighter aircraft

Charles Kang and Lilian Wu report for the Republic of China on Taiwan’s Central News Agency, Dec. 3, 2013, that mass production reportedly has begun on China’s Shenyang J-15, a carrier-based fighter jet, in a move that indicates Beijing has started picking up the pace in training and development for its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

China’s CCTV and the Chinese-language Global Times, both giant state-run media outlets, reported Tuesday that Shenyang Aircraft Corp. has already begun “handing (the planes) over to the military.” Neither outlet gave specifics on the number of fighters produced.

The news comes shortly after China drew global concern by declaring a broad air defense and information zone in the East China Sea.

The Global Times was defiant on the matter of what the world thinks of China: “The mass production and delivery of J-15 jets not only breaks apart the slander and doubt of some foreign media, it also serves to further boost the progress and level of training for the Liaoning.”

Reportedly, the J-15 is sea-grey color, with the flag of the People’s Liberation Army Navy behind the cabin and a flying shark painted on its rear wing. The nose art and tail are said to feature its official designation. That description differs from the yellow-painted test planes previously spotted landing on the Liaoning.

Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based commentator on military affairs, said that the repainting means the fighters are in service and battle-ready: “They’re pretty much ready. The J-15 (crew) has already completed its training and has begun shifting to a formal force.”

Here’s a video of J-15:

See also:

~StMA

US-China’s Osprey vs. Bison arms race in East China Sea

ZubrZubr class LCAC or the PLA Navy’s Bison

Osprey vs. Bison in the East China Sea

By Richard D. Fisher, Jr.

East AsiaPreviewSecurity

September 20, 2013

China, Japan and the U.S. are ramping up their ability to deploy to disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Stability in the region between Taiwan and Japan, and the security of Taiwan, hinges on an arms race that will soon be accompanying the heightened paramilitary engagements between Japanese, Chinese and, occasionally, Taiwanese Coast Guard ships over who will control the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.

For now this contest for control is confined to shoving matches largely between Chinese and Japanese Coast Guard ships, which take several days to deploy. However, China is now developing the means to project decisive force to these islands in hours, not days. Should China gain the upper hand in this arms race there is a greater chance it will use force to occupy the islands and then set its sights on the strategically more attractive nearby Sakashima island group.

For now, though, the upper hand is held by the United States, which has just completed the initial deployment of 24 U.S. Marine Corps Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey conventional, or twin tilt rotor aircraft, to Futenma Base in Okinawa. This unique aircraft, by virtue of its twisting rotors and engines at the ends of its wing, can take off like a helicopter, and then cruise at about 280 miles per hour, carrying up to 24 troops or about six tons of cargo to a range sufficient to reach the disputed islands. In a full-out surge, the 24 MV-22Bs at Futenma could potentially put about 500 troops or about 140 tons of weapons and material on the Senkakus or the Sakashimas in about one hour.

On September 17, 2013, Kyodo reported that current commander of U.S. Marine forces on Okinawa, Lt. General John Wissler, told Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaimu about the Osprey, “That aircraft has the ability to reach the Senkakus, should we need to support any sort of Japan-U.S. security treaty.”

China is also accumulating rapid lift assets. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has taken delivery of the first Ukrainian-built Zubr (Bison) large hovercraft. The first example, delivered in May, is now undergoing final modifications in Shanghai. At least three more are expected initially, but China may build many more of an indigenous version. Developed by the former Soviet Union to give its Naval Infantry the ability to rapidly invade NATO countries along the Baltic Sea, the Zubr can lift about 500 troops or up to 150 tons of armor, weapons and material up to speeds of 66 miles per hour. With just four Zubr hovercraft, the PLAN could potentially put 2,000 troops or up to 600 tons of weapons and material on the Senkakus in about four to five hours, or it could reach the island of Miyako-jima in about six to seven hours with a much reduced payload.

If it actually came to a race between the Osprey and the Bison, getting there first would make all the difference, as without the advantage of surprise, an adequately armed defender could significantly damage incoming hovercraft or helicopters. But the outcome would also depend on the result of intensive air and sea battles around these islands. For now, the superior performance of the U.S. Lockheed-Martin F-22A fifth-generation fighter and the Virginia class nuclear-powered attack submarine provide a margin of superiority that undergirds deterrence, but this could change quickly as the PLA Air Force increases the number of capable fourth-generation fighters supported by AWACS radar aircraft, followed by fifth-generation fighters that could even the odds, especially if China decides to strike first. Growing numbers of PLAN air defense destroyers like the new Type 052D could also help deny air dominance to Japanese and U.S. forces.

However, China could also gain the upper hand should it successfully develop its own tilt rotor aircraft, an ambition it likely has been pursuing for most of the last decade. In a surprising revelation, an article published August 28, 2013 on the web page of the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI) goes further, saying that China is now developing a quad tiltrotor design called the Blue Whale, with the goal of carrying 20 tons of cargo at speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour, with a combat radius of 500 miles. A model of the Blue Whale appeared at a Chinese helicopter technology expo recently held in Tianjin, at least confirming it is an active program.

Blue Whale’s performance goals are very close to a now lapsed Bell-Boeing program to develop a V-44 Quad TiltRotor, which faded with evolving heavy-lift requirements for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System of programs, in turn cancelled in 2009. CHRDI does not reveal when they expect the Blue Whale to enter service or how China will overcome technical challenges for a quad tiltrotor that a 2005 U.S. Defense Science Board study said would take 20 to 25 years to overcome. By 2008 to 2009 the heavy lift program was punted to the U.S. Air Force-controlled Joint Future Theater Lift program, intended to develop a replacement for the venerable Lockheed-Martin C-130, perhaps by the late 2020s. China may think it can succeed with a quad tiltrotor design before the U.S. fields a new vertical heavy lifter. The operational implications of such a capability go well beyond the East China Sea, but may matter there sooner.

For Beijing, control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and the much larger Sakashima Islands, which have ports and airfields, is not simply a matter of salving historical resentments or even controlling resources; it is a contest for geostrategic position to influence the future of democratic Taiwan. From the Senkakus and especially the Sakashimas, the PLA can more easily impose an air and sea blockade on Taiwan or launch multi-axis attacks to rapidly take airfields to aid follow-on invasion forces. Before making any military moves, mere possession of these islands allows Beijing to exert far greater political pressure on Taipei to make “peace” at the expense of its virtual American ally and Tokyo. Occupation of the islands would also give Beijing greater legitimacy on which to develop latent claims to other islands in the Ryukyu chain.

The Miyako Strait in the Sakashimas also must be passed by Chinese naval forces trying to reach the Pacific Ocean. This group of seemingly negligible islands are in fact the lock in the door that keeps the PLA Navy from cruising the Pacific at will, a key link in the so-called “First Island Chain.” For Tokyo and Washington, preserving Japanese control over these islands proves to Beijing that it cannot use force to solve maritime territory disputes, but also gives Japanese and U.S. forces a large number of island base options from which to counter China’s rapidly growing air and naval forces.

At a time when Washington is far more preoccupied with preserving adequate strategic capabilities under threat from sequestration-enforced defense budget reductions, an expensive heavy-lift tiltrotor development program, like so many other programs, has crossed the line from “need” to “needless luxury.” But the absence of this level of capability may have consequences. Without the means to put decisive counter-invasion forces on these islands at a moment’s notice, Japan will have to consider something it has been very reluctant to do: militarize these islands. Tokyo is already considering the development of a 500 km short-range ballistic missile to defend these distant islands. Missiles, of course, fly much faster than the Osprey. On one level, China’s looming threat justifies such moves, but deploying missiles will encourage China’s buildup as well as anti-Japan factions in Taipei.

Despite its much advertised military and political-economic pivot/rebalance toward Asia, it remains an uncomfortable fact for Washington that successful military deterrence of Beijing will also require that the U.S. remain ahead in a growing, multi-faceted arms race. In the East China Sea this arms race and its implications are taking shape rather rapidly.

Richard D. Fisher, Jr. is a Senior Fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center and author of China’s Military Modernization, Building for Regional and Global Reach, (Stanford, 2010).

For Wikipedia’s entry on Zubr-class (or what the Chinese call Bison) LCAC, click here.