Faced with China, the Pentagon can now only bet on technology and the mobilization of its allies

Outclassed by Chinese industrial capacities, the Pentagon now knows that it can only count on a possible technological advantage, but above all on the support of its allies to meet the Sino-Russian definition.

Every year, the Chinese naval industry launches around ten destroyers and frigates, 8 Type 052DL 7500-ton anti-aircraft destroyers and 2 new Type 054B anti-submarine frigates for the year 2023. At the same time, the States States will only launch two Arleigh Burke destroyers that same year, the USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) of the Flight IIa type, and the USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), the first unit of the new Flight III version.

Today, because of its anteriority with 84 destroyers and cruisers, as well as 11 aircraft carriers, 48 ​​nuclear attack submarines and 30 large landing ships, the US Navy retains the numerical ascendancy over the Chinese fleet. , which fielded only 45 modern destroyers, 32 ASM Type 054A frigates, 3 aircraft carriers once Fujian was in service, 50 attack submarines, including only 6 Sang-class SSNs, and only eleven large ships. amphibians.

However, China's industrial trajectory will allow it, by 2030, to overtake the US Navy in the field of large combat surface units, with around a hundred Type 055 and Type 052D/L destroyers, and around sixty ASM Type 054A/B frigates, against 80 Arleigh Burke and between 8 and 10 Constellation class frigates on the American side, the tipping point being between 2026 and 2027.

Burke FlightIII e1630588260662 Military Planning and Plans | Military alliances | Defense Analysis
American shipyards today only produce a fifth of Chinese production in terms of large combat surface units (Destroyers and Frigates). Between 2026 and 2027, the Chinese Navy will outnumber the US Navy in this area.

If the US Navy will always have the ascendancy in the field of aircraft carriers (11 against 5), large amphibious units (30 against 16 to 18), and especially in that of submarines, with more than 50 under - American nuclear-powered attack sailors against 8 to 10 Chinese, but supported by about fifty conventionally powered submersibles.

On the other hand, once brought back to the Pacific theater alone, the balance of power is very different, since it concentrates almost the entire Chinese fleet, for 50 to 60% of the US fleet which must also mark its presence in the Atlantic, in the Mediterranean or in the Persian Gulf and in the Indian Ocean.

This unfavorable dynamic is now largely exploited by Beijing, which has multiplied its demonstrations of naval force in recent months, for example by crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait on an almost daily basis, so as to use up the means and vigilance of the Taiwanese forces, but also by coming to challenge American and allied ships and aircraft that do not respect the de facto Chinese maritime and territorial annexations in the China Sea or around Taiwan.

As such, if the statement in 2021 by Admiral Davidson, then commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific, that it was likely that China would undertake the takeover of Taiwan by 2027, had then caused a stir and raised many questions, this deadline is now shared by a growing number of specialists in the subject, on the basis of the shift in the balance of power on the one hand, and the political and economic constraints surrounding the mandate of President Xi Jinping on the other.

Aware of the consequences that such an imbalance of forces would inevitably have, particularly with regard to Taiwan, the Pentagon has been working for several years now to find other means of trying to rebalance this balance of power, and thus preserving the status quo.

Type 039C Yuan cover e1630398997517 Military planning and plans | Military alliances | Defense Analysis
The Chinese Navy fields as many submarines as the US Navy, but this fleet today is mostly made up of conventionally powered ships like the Type 039. However, assuming a purely defensive posture behind the first curtain islands in the China Sea, these buildings would prove to be formidable adversaries against the American SSNs, especially since the PLA is fielding a large flotilla of ASM Type 056A corvettes to support them.

However, there are few opportunities for American strategists, who know they cannot rely on a massive increase in budgets, on the one hand, and who, on the other, are aware of the limits that American industrial capacities are coming up against, particularly in the naval field.

In fact, it comes as no great surprise that the Pentagon is now committed to increasing its technological ascendancy over China as quickly as possible, not only by multiplying investments and programs in this direction, but also by accelerating the service of these innovative equipment and capabilities, often linked to the new Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADCC, doctrine.

Pivotal to the global transformation of US forces, the JADCC doctrine is precisely supposed to convert the superior capabilities of US forces in terms of technology, communication and force training, into operational advantages sufficiently perceptible to restore the balance of power in their favor, and therefore to prove sufficiently deterrent for Beijing not to undertake offensive action against Taiwan.

Thus, in recent years, certain breakthrough programs in the field of hypersonic weapons, directed energy weapons or drones, as well as other particularly demonstrative ones, such as the two Next Generation Air Dominance programs of the US Air Force to replace the F-22s, and the US Navy to replace the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, were carried out with seriousness, realism and speed by the American armies, unlike the how many programs were carried out in an often catastrophic way in the 2000s and 2010s.

The second alternative implemented by the United States is based on the strengthening of political, but above all military, ties with its traditional allies in this theater of operation, such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea , Singapore or the Philippines, as well as major efforts to try to get closer to key players in the Indo-Pacific theater such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand, which are the subject of all the attention both the State Department and the Pentagon for several years.

The Pentagon can now only bet on technology and the mobilization of its allies
Meeting between Lloyd Austin and Lee Jong-Sup, January 31, 2023 -Copyright Jeon Heon-Kyun / AFP

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