The People's Liberation Army will be able to attack Taiwan by 2027! This sentence, uttered by Admiral Phil Davidson in March 2021 when he commanded the US Indo-Pacific Command, the most important American command, had the effect of a bomb at the Pentagon, as well as at the White House and in Congress.
According to the general officer, the trajectory followed, at that time, by the PLA, but also by the Chinese defense industry , was to allow it to seize Taiwan and resist a possible US naval air operation to come and help his ally in the years to come. The deadline of 2027 was presented as the one from which the PLA would obtain satisfactory chances of success for such an operation.
Since then, several studies, wargames and projections have moderated this assertion. The Pentagon has not remained inactive on the subject either, in particular by revising the US Navy's planning to have 12 aircraft carriers, 150 destroyers and frigates and 66 attack submarines by 2045 .
In addition, the war in Ukraine has, for a time at least, focused political and media attention, in the United States and in Europe, so that the Chinese threat seemed, in recent months, less pressing. At least in appearance...
The five-year plan of the People's Liberation Army
Indeed, speaking at the National Defense Industrial Association's Emerging Technologies and Defense symposium, Admiral John Aquilino, successor to Admiral Davidson at the head of the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), presented a most disturbing picture.
According to him, the five-year equipment plan underway in China, which will continue for the next 4 years, until 2027, was designed to allow the PLA to gain the upper hand over American forces in the hypothesis of a conflict .
This observation applies just as much to conventional forces, with in particular a sustained effort in the production of new military ships. This effort can be compared to that produced in the United States by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman in the 1980s, when Washington undertook to rebuild the world's most powerful navy.
This is also the case in the air sector, while the J-20 fighter has now gone into intensive production, alongside the J-16 and J-10C, still in production, while the J-35, still provisional name , should enter service soon. Likewise, the production rates of radar aircraft (YJ-500 and YJ-600), heavy transport aircraft Y-20 and in-flight refueling aircraft (Y-20U) are also very sustained.
Beijing is simultaneously producing an unprecedented effort to modernize and expand its own deterrent capabilities, far surpassing the format, and therefore the mission, which have been those of Chinese nuclear forces until now.
Cooperative engagement as a deterrent for the Pentagon
To deal with this worrying observation, the American Indo-Pacific Command, like the Pentagon, is banking on the combat experience of its forces, as well as on the still notable advance of the American armies in terms of collaborative and distributed engagement.
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