If today, China remains outclassed by the United States, it could well, by 2035, become the first military superpower on the planet, relying on four effectively controlled pillars.
With 2 million soldiers, less than 3,000 modern tanks, a thousand 4th generation combat aircraft and only two aircraft carriers and around thirty destroyers, the Chinese armies are, on paper at least, far from representing an adversary. potential beyond the reach of the United States, and even less of the Western camp as a whole.
However, the military construction undertaken by Beijing for around thirty years is today the obsession of American soldiers and strategists, to the point that all of the material and doctrinal developments undertaken across the Atlantic over the last ten years only aim 'to contain the rise in power of the Chinese armies.
Indeed, beyond the instantaneous perception of Beijing's forces today, China relies on 4 strategic pillars which could, if carried out correctly, make the country the world's leading military power by 2035. , and give it strategic advantages that will be very difficult for the United States and its allies to counter.
1- An ambitious, but measured, technological strategy;
Throughout the Cold War, Western strategy aimed to neutralize the numerical superiority of Soviet forces and its Warsaw Pact satellites, relying, in large part, on a technological advantage sufficient to act as a multiplier. of strength.
The Gulf War of 1991 confirmed, in a way, the relevance of this doctrine, the coalition forces having swept away the Iraqi armies using mainly Soviet equipment in just a few weeks of air campaign and 100 hours of ground combat, even though the coalition land forces were on a numerical equal footing with the Iraqi armies.
For the United States, and a large part of its allies, it was demonstrated that technological superiority brought a clear operational advantage, and could compensate for numerical weakness to a certain extent.
This is how across the Atlantic, a technologist euphoria took hold of the Pentagon, with the development of numerous programs with disproportionate ambitions which resulted in resounding failures, such as the Zumwalt destroyers, the Comanche combat helicopter or the numerous attempts to replace the M2 Bradley
Chinese strategists, too, learned valuable lessons from this war. For them, if they were one day to confront Western armies , it was necessary to first neutralize the technological gradient of these forces, not by trying to develop more efficient equipment than the United States or the Europeans, but by equipping with equipment sufficiently close to theirs, so that the multiplier coefficient which was in full force during the Gulf War, finds itself neutralized.
There is, therefore, nothing surprising to note that the J-10 single-engine fighter offers performances and capabilities very close to those of the F-16 and the Mirage 2000, that the J-11 approaches those of the F-15 and that the J-16 has very little to envy of the F-15E. As for the J-20, like the J-35 currently being tested, they will probably not match the F-22 or the F-35, but neither will they allow these aircraft to gain a decisive advantage.
In fact, over the last 15 years, many new Chinese equipment have clearly been inspired in design and performance by those constituting the bulk of Western forces, such as the Z-20 helicopter compared to the UH-60. Black Hawk and its naval version MH-60 Romeo, the Y-20 transport plane versus C-17, the Type 052D destroyer versus the Arleigh Burke destroyers, or even the radar plane embarked KJ-600 vis-à-vis the E-2D Hawkeye.
The United States is not the only source of “inspiration” for Beijing engineers, as demonstrated by the PCL-181 truck-mounted gun inspired by the French CAESAR. More recently, we have been able to observe a certain shortening of the Chinese response time to Western innovations, for example the presentation of a copy of the XQ-58A Valkyrie combat drone even though the latter is still only 'at the prototype stage.
China obviously does not refrain from making certain decisive technological breakthroughs, as in the case of hypersonic weapons for example, but the essential part of its strategy today is indeed based on the neutralization of the Western technological gradient, so as to deprive the United States of this asset which serves as a force multiplier in the event of confrontation.
What's more, in order not to trigger an arms race like those experienced by the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s, Beijing remains entirely measured in its ambitions, never seeking to overexploit its advantage, including understood numerically. At least for now.
2- Exemplary operational and industrial planning
If China does not want to make defense technology a decisive asset, but simply neutralize this asset in the hands of the West, it is because it has other, much more exclusive assets. The first of these is none other than the exceptional quality of its operational and industrial defense planning for around thirty years now.
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