According to a new report by a think tank on Beijing’s ongoing military expansion, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has the resources to deploy up to five aircraft carriers and 10 submarines. nuclear-powered ballistic missile launchers by 2030.
As the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment’s study, “China’s Choices,” reports, “the PLA has the resources to continue its modernization in the 2020s.”
For China’s Choices, the CSBA assumes, as a starting point, that Beijing’s military will grow at a rate of 3% above inflation in the early 2030s.
According USNI NewsWhen explaining the report and how the tool was used, Jack Bianchi, a lead author, said on August 18, 2022 that the CSBA does not try to predict China’s actual defense budget since Beijing no longer releases the equipment, training and sustainment and personnel costs in figures it publishes.
The CSBA also did not try to determine the cost of a frigate or an aircraft, but instead looked at the military from a “broad strategic level”, Bianchi said.
The CSBA used the US expenditure percentages for research and development, procurement, sustainment, and disposal of a specific weapon system and applied them to China.
For the PLAN, this may mean more frigates, missile boats and diesel-electric submarines that can be used for regional defense as well as pressure on Taiwan as China aims to unite the island. to the mainland.
They also sought to reduce the size of the military as a potential bill-payer, as well as rid the Air Force of legacy aircraft to be modernized, he said.
For power projection away from the Chinese mainland, the report predicted sufficient funds available for “aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, blue water logistics ships, strategic bombers and transport aircraft and strategic supplies” in the 2030s.
Former Indo-Pacific Command commander, retired Admiral Phil Davidson, said it was in line with “Beijing’s long-term goal of achieving great power status by the mid of the century”. It also aligns with the Chinese Communist Party’s desire to ensure its pre-eminence at the national level.
The United States retains submarine superiority over China, Davidson said, adding that’s an advantage the country should seek to develop.
The Chinese, over the past decade, have increased their capabilities to support operations away from the mainland in their operations in the Gulf of Aden, and have quickly learned to integrate new capabilities into their joint forces, Bianchi and Davidson noted. .
As already reported, a clear photo of the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) J-35 stealth fighter appeared on Chinese social media in July.
Designed by Shenyang, the twin-engine aircraft will be flown by PLANAF from China’s future Fujian-class Type-003 aircraft carriers.
Although most open sources call it “J-35” or “J-XY”, the official designation of the new Chinese twin-engine stealth fighter is not yet known, some even call it a variant of the FC- 31. A full-scale mock-up of the stealth aircraft first appeared in June 2021 on a full-scale mock-up of a real Chinese Navy aircraft carrier, located at the land-based testing facilities in Wuhan.
As noted above, the aircraft will be operated from the Fujian-class Type-003 aircraft carriers, the first of which was launched in June. The Type-003 is China’s largest, most modern and powerful aircraft carrier. As News18 reported, at 80,000 tons and 318 meters, Fujian is named after the Chinese province that sits opposite Taiwan.
Unlike Liaoning and Shandong, the other two PLAN carriers, which feature a ski jump (a ramp at the bow of the ship that helps jets take off from the carrier’s short runway), Fujian would have Electromagnetic Catapult Launch Systems (EMALS).
Ski jump launches are extremely taxing as they place great demands on the size, weight and payload of the aircraft being launched. Instead, the main benefit of EMALS is that it accelerates the aircraft more smoothly, putting less strain on their airframes. In addition, it weighs and costs less and also requires less maintenance than a steam piston system. It also reduces the carrier’s freshwater requirements, thereby reducing the demand for energy-intensive desalination. Most US carriers have steam catapults, with the exception of the new USS Gerald Ford class.
Photo credit: US Navy and Weibo