Tag Archives: Taiwan

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’s irredentist nationalism and the six wars sure to come

On July 8, 2013, the pro-PRC Chinese-language newspaper, Wenweipo, published an article titled “中國未來50年裡必打的六場戰爭 (Six Wars China Is Sure to Fight In the Next 50 Years)”.

The anticipated six wars are all irredentist in purpose — the reclaiming of what Chinese believe to be national territories lost since Imperial China was defeated by the Brits in the Opium War of 1840-42. That defeat, in the view of Chinese nationalists, began China’s “Hundred Years of Humiliation.” (See Maria Hsia Chang, Return of the Dragon: China’s Wounded Nationalism. Westview, 2001).

Below is the English translation of the article, from a Hong Kong blog, Midnight Express 2046. (The year 2046 is an allusion to what this blog believes will be the last year of Beijing’s “One County, Two Systems” formula for ruling Hong Kong, and “the last year of brilliance of Hong Kong.”)

Midnight Express 2046 (ME2046) believes this article “is quite a good portrait of modern Chinese imperialism.” What ME2046 omits are:

  • the original Chinese-language article identifies the source of the article as 中新網 (ChinaNews.com).
  • The Chinese-language title of the article includes the word bi (), which means “must” or “necessarily” or “surely.” That is why I inserted the word “sure” in the English-language title of the article.

PLAN

The Six Wars [Sure] To Be Fought By China In the Coming 50 Years

September 16, 2013

China is not yet a unified great power. This is a humiliation to the Chinese people, a shame to the children of the Yellow Emperor. For the sake of national unification and dignity, China has to fight six wars in the coming fifty years. Some are regional wars; the others may be total wars. No matter what is the nature, each one of them is inevitable for Chinese unification.

The 1st War: Unification of Taiwan (Year 2020 to 2025)

Though we are enjoying peace on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, we should not daydream a resolution of peaceful unification from Taiwan administration (no matter it is Chinese Nationalist Party or Democratic Progressive Party). Peaceful unification does not fit their interests while running for elections. Their stance is therefore to keep to status quo (which is favourable to the both parties, each of them can get more bargaining chips) For Taiwan, “independence” is just a mouth talk than a formal declaration, while “unification” is just an issue for negotiation than for real action. The current situation of Taiwan is the source of anxiety to China, since everyone can take the chance to bargain more from China.

China must work out a strategy to unify Taiwan within the next ten years, that is, by 2020. By then, China will have to send an ultimatum to Taiwan, demanding the Taiwanese to choose the resolution of peaceful unification (the most preferred epilogue for the Chinese) or war (an option forced to be so) by 2025. For the purpose of unification, China has to make preparation three to five years earlier. So when the time comes, the Chinese government must act on either option, to give a final answer to the problem.

From the analysis of the current situation, Taiwan is expected to be defiant towards unification, so military action will be the only solution. This war of unification will be the first war under the sense of modern warfare since the establishment of the “New China”. This war will be a test to the development of the People’s Liberation Army in modern warfare. China may win this war easily, or it may turn out to be a difficult one. All depend on the level of intervention of the U.S. and Japan. If the U.S. and Japan play active roles in aiding Taiwan, or even make offensives into Chinese mainland, the war must become a difficult and prolonged total war. On the other hand, if the U.S. and Japan just watch and see, the Chinese army can easily defeat the Taiwanese. In this case, Taiwan can be under control within three months. Even if the U.S. and Japan step in in this stage, the war can be finished within six months.

The 2nd War: “Reconquest” of Spratly Islands (Year 2025 to 2030)

After unification of Taiwan, China will take a rest for two years. During the period of recovery, China will send the ultimatum to countries surrounding the Islands with the deadline of 2028. The countries having disputes on the sovereignty of Islands can negotiate with China on preserving their shares of investments in these Islands by giving up their territorial claims. If not, once China declares war on them, their investments and economic benefits will be taken over by China.

At this moment, the South East Asian countries are already shivering with Chinese military unification of Taiwan. On one hand, they will be sitting by the negotiation table, yet they are reluctant to give up their interests in the Islands. Therefore, they will be taking the wait-and-see attitude and keep delaying to make final decision. They will not decide whether to make peace or go into war until China takes any firm actions. The map below shows the situation of territorial claims over the Spratly Islands. (Map omitted)

Besides, the U.S. will not just sit and watch China “reconquesting” the Islands. In the 1stwar mentioned above, the U.S. may be too late to join the war, or simply unable to stop China from reunifying Taiwan. This should be enough to teach the U.S. a lesson not to confront too openly with China. Still, the U.S. will aid those South East Asian countries, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, under the table. Among the countries surrounding the South China Sea, only Vietnam and the Philippines dare to challenge China’s domination. Still, they will think twice before going into war with China, unless they fail on the negotiation table, and are sure they can gain military support from the U.S.

The best option for China is to attack Vietnam, since Vietnam is the most powerful country in the region. Beating Vietnam can intimidate the rest. While the war with Vietnam goes on, other countries will not move. If Vietnam loses, others will hand their islands back to China. If the opposite, they will declare war on China.

Of course, China will beat Vietnam and take over all the islands. When Vietnam loses the war and its islands, others countries, intimidated by Chinese military power, yet still with greediness to keep their interests, will negotiate with China, returning the islands and declaring allegiance to China. So China can build the ports and place troops on these islands, extending its influence into the Pacific Ocean.

Up till now, China has made a thorough breakthrough of the First Island Chain and infiltrated the Second one, Chinese aircraft carrier can have free access into the Pacific Ocean, safeguarding its own interests.

The 3rd War: “Reconquest” of Southern Tibet (Year 2035 to 2040)

China and India share a long border, but the only sparking point of conflicts between the two countries is only the part of Southern Tibet. China has long been the imaginary enemy of India. The military objective of India is to surpass China. India aims to achieve this by self-development and importing advanced military technologies and weapons from the U.S, Russia and Europe, chasing closely to China in its economic and military development.

In India, the official and media attitude is more friendly towards the U.S, Russia and Europe, and is repellent or even hostile against China. This leads to unresolvable conflicts with China. On the other hand, India values itself highly with the aids from the U.S, Russia and Europe, thinking it can beat China in wars. This is also the reason of long lasting land disputes.

Twenty years later, although India will lag behind more compared to China in military power, yet it is still one of the few world powers. If China uses military force to conquer Southern Tibet, it has to bear some losses. In my opinion, the best strategy for China is to incite the disintegration of India. By dividing into several countries, India will have no power to cope with China.

Of course, such plan may fail. But China should at least try its best to incite Assam province and once conquered Sikkim to gain independence, in order to weaken the power of India. This is the best strategy.

The second best plan is to export advanced weapons to Pakistan, helping Pakistan to conquer Southern Kashmir region in 2035 and to achieve its unification. While India and Pakistan are busy fighting against each other, China should take a Blitz to conquer Southern Tibet, at the time occupied by India.

India will not be able to fight a two front war, and is deemed to lose both. China can retake Southern Tibet easily, while Pakistan can control the whole Kashmir. If this plan cannot be adopted, the worst case is direct military action to take back Southern Tibet.

After the first two wars, China has rested for around ten years, and has become a world power both in terms of military and economy. There will only be the U.S. and Europe (on the condition that it becomes a united country. If not, this will be replaced by Russia. But from my point of view, European integration is quite probable) able to cope with China in the top three list in world power.

After taking back Taiwan and Spratly Islands, China has great leap forward in its military power in army, navy, air force and space warfare. China will be on the leading role in its military power, may be only second to the U.S. Therefore, India will lose this war.

The 4th War: “Reconquest” of Diaoyu Island [Senkaku] and Ryukyu Islands (Year 2040 to 2045)

In the mid-21st century, China emerges as the real world power, accompanied with the decline of Japan and Russia, stagnant U.S. and India and the rise of Central Europe. That will be the best time for China to take back Diaoyu Island and Ryukyu Islands. The map below is the contrast between ancient and recent Diaoyu Island and Ryukyu Islands (map omitted).

Many people may know that Diaoyu Island is the land of China since the ancient times, but have no idea that the Japanese annexed Ryukyu Island (currently named as Okinawa, with U.S. military base). The society and the government of China is misled by the Japanese while they are discussing on the issues of the East China Sea, such as the “middle-line” set by the Japanese or “Okinawa issue” (Ryukyu Islands in Chinese), by coming to think that Ryukyu Islands are the ancient lands of Japan.

What a shame for such ignorance! From the historical records of Chinese, Ryukyu and other countries (including Japan), Ryukyu has long been the vassal states of China since ancient times, which means the islands are the lands of China. In this case, is the “middle line” set by Japan in the East China Sea justified? Does Japan have anything to do with the East China Sea? (Those who have no idea in these details may refer to “Ryukyu: An indispensable part of China since the ancient times” written by me)

The Japanese has robbed our wealth and resources in the East China Sea and unlawfully occupied Diaoyu Island and Ryukyu Islands for many years, the time will come that they have to pay back. At that time, we can expect that the U.S. will be willing to intervene but has weakened; Europe will keep silent; Russia will sit and watch the fight. The war can end within half of a year with overwhelming victory of China. Japan will have no choice but to return Diaoyu Island and Ryukyu Islands to China. East China Sea becomes the inner lake of China. Who dare to put a finger on it?

The 5th War: Unification of Outer Mongolia (Year 2045 to 2050)

Though there are advocates for reunification of Outer Mongolia at the moment, is this idea realistic? Those unrealistic guys in China are just fooling themselves and making a mistake in strategic thinking. This is just no good to the great work of unification of Outer Mongolia.

After taking Taiwan, we should base our territorial claims on the constitution and domain of the Republic of China (some people may raise a question here: why should we base our claims on the constitution and domain of the Republic of China? In such case, isn’t the People’s Republic of China being annexed by the Republic of China? This is a total bullshit. I will say: the People’s Republic of China is China; the Republic of China is China too. As a Chinese, I only believe that unification means power. The way which can protect the Chinese best from foreign aggression is the best way to the Chinese people.

We also need to know that the People’s Republic of China recognizes the independence of Outer Mongolia. Using the constitution and domain of the People’s Republic of China to unify Outer Mongolia is naked aggression. We can only have legitimate cause to military action using the constitution and domain of the Republic of China. What’s more, it is the case after Taiwan being taken over by China. So isn’t it meaningless to argue which entity being unified?). China should raise the issue of unification with Outer Mongolia, and to take propaganda campaigns inside Outer Mongolia. China should also pick the groups advocating the unification, aiding them to take over key posts in their government, and to proclaim Outer Mongolia as the core interests of China upon the settlement of Southern Tibet issue by 2040.

If Outer Mongolia can return to China peacefully, it is the best result of course; but if China meets foreign intervention or resistance, China should be prepared to take military action. Taiwan model can be useful in this case: giving an ultimatum with deadline in the Year 2045. Let Outer Mongolia to consider the case for few years. If they refuse the offer, then military action takes off.

In this moment, the previous four wars have been settles. China has the political, military and diplomatic power to unify Outer Mongolia. The weakened U.S. and Russia dare not to get involved except diplomatic protests; Europe will take a vague role; while India, Africa and Central Asian countries will remain silent. China can dominate Outer Mongolia within three years’ time. After the unification, China will place heavy troops on frontier to monitor Russia. China will take ten years to build up elemental and military infrastructure to prepare for the claim of territorial loss from Russia.

The 6th War: Taking back of lands lost to Russia (Year 2055 to 2060)

The current Sino-Russian relationship seems to be a good one, which is actually a result of no better choice facing the U.S. In reality, the two countries are meticulously monitoring the each other. Russia fears the rise of China threaten its power; while China never forgets the lands lost to Russia. When the chance comes, China will take back the lands lost.

After the victories of the previous five wars by 2050, China will make territorial claims based on the domain of Qing Dynasty (similar way by making use of the domain of the Republic of China to unify Outer Mongolia) and to make propaganda campaigns favoring such claims. Efforts should also be made to disintegrate Russia again.

In the days of “Old China”, Russia has occupied around one hundred and sixty million square kilometre of lands, equivalent to one-sixth of the landmass of current domain of China. Russia is therefore the bitter enemy of China. After the victories of previous five wars, it is the time to make Russians pay their price.

There must be a war with Russia. Though at that time, China has become an advanced power in navy, army, air and space forces, it is nevertheless the first war against a nuclear power. Therefore, China should be well prepared in nuclear weapons, such as the nuclear power to strike Russia from the front stage to the end. When the Chinese army deprives the Russians’ ability to counter strike, they will come to realize that they can no longer match China in the battlefield. They can do nothing but to hand over their occupied lands and to pay a heavy price to their invasions in the past time.

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.