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.
Since then, several studies, wargames and projections have come to moderate this assertion, especially since the Pentagon has not remained inactive on the subject either, in particular by revising the US Navy's planning to come to 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 worrying 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, comparable to that which was produced in the United States by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman in the 1980s, when Washington undertook to rebuild the most powerful navy in the world.
This is also the case in the air sector, as the J-20 fighter has now gone into intensive production, alongside the J-16 and J-10C, still in production, while the J-35 will arrive soon. Likewise, the production rates of radar aircraft, heavy transport aircraft and in-flight refueling aircraft (Y-20) are also very sustained.
Beijing is simultaneously making an unprecedented effort to modernize and expand its own deterrent capabilities, going far beyond the format of its Chinese nuclear forces until now.
Cooperative engagement as a deterrent for the Pentagon
To deal with this worrying observation, the American Indo-Pacific Command and the Pentagon are 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.
This doctrine, derived from the now famous Joint All-Domain Command and Control or JADC2, is summarized by Admiral Aquilino by the phrase "Blind, detect and destroy", aiming to deprive the adversary of its means of detection while preserving the his own, and to use distributed force to destroy the adversary and thus deprive him of his military options.
The rest of this article is reserved for subscribers -
Classic subscriptions give access to all Flash articles, Analyzes and Syntheses, without advertising , from €1.99.
Premium subscriptions also provide access to articles over two years old in the archive, as well as advanced research tools , and to publish two press releases or job offers per month for free in the Partners section ( + Push social networks / application).