Study Suggests U.S. Loses War With China

A new study suggests U.S. air power in the Pacific would be inadequate to thwart a Chinese attack on Taiwan in 2020. The study, entitled "Air Combat Past, Present and Future," by John Stillion and Scott Perdue, says China's anti-access arms and strategy could deny the U.S. the "ability to operate efficiently from nearby bases or seas."

According to the study, U.S. aircraft carriers and air bases would be threatened by Chinese development of anti-ship ballistic missiles, the fielding of diesel and nuclear submarines equipped with torpedoes and SS-N-22 and SS-N-27 anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), fighters and bombers carrying ASCMs and HARMs, and new ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

The report states that 34 missiles with submunition warheads could cover all parking ramps at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa.
An "attack like this could damage, destroy or strand 75 percent of aircraft based at Kadena," it says.
In contrast, many Chinese air bases are harder than Kadena, with some "super-hard underground hangers."

To make matters worse, Kadena is the only U.S. air base within 500 nautical miles of the Taiwan Strait, whereas China has 27.

U.S. air bases in South Korea are more than 750 miles distant, and those in Japan are more than 885 miles away. Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, is 1,500 miles away. The result is that sortie rates will be low, with a "huge tanker demand."

The authors suggest China's CETC Y-27 radar, which is similar to Russia's Nebo SVU VHF Digital AESA, could counter U.S. stealth fighter technology. China is likely to outfit its fighters with improved radars and by "2020 even very stealthy targets likely [would be] detectable by Flanker radars at 25+ nm." China is also likely to procure the new Su-35BM fighter by 2020, which will challenge the F-35 and possibly the F-22.

The authors also question the reliability of U.S. beyond-visual-range weapons, such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM. U.S. fighters have recorded only 10 AIM-120 kills, none against targets equipped with the kinds of countermeasures carried by Chinese Su-27s and Su-30s. Of the 10, six were beyond-visual-range kills, and it required 13 missiles to get them.

If a conflict breaks out between China and the U.S. over Taiwan, the authors say it is difficult to "predict who will have had the last move in the measure-countermeasure game."

Overall, the authors say, "China could enjoy a 3:1 edge in fighters if we can fly from Kadena - about 10:1 if forced to operate from Andersen. Overcoming these odds requires qualitative superiority of 9:1 or 100:1" - a differential that is "extremely difficult to achieve" against a like power.

If beyond-visual-range missiles work, stealth technology is not countered and air bases are not destroyed, U.S. forces have a chance, but "history suggests there is a limit of about 3:1 where quality can no longer compensate for superior enemy numbers."

A 24-aircraft Su-27/30 regiment can carry around 300 air-to-air missiles (AAMs), whereas 24 F-22s can carry only 192 AAMs and 24 F-35s only 96 AAMs.

Though current numbers assume the F-22 could shoot down 48 Chinese Flankers when "outnumbered 12:1 without loss," these numbers do not take into account a less-than-perfect U.S. beyond-visual-range performance, partial or complete destruction of U.S. air bases and aircraft carriers, possible deployment of a new Chinese stealth fighter around 2020 or 2025, and the possible use of Chinese "robo-fighters" to deplete U.S. "fighters' missile loadout prior to mass attack."

The authors write that Chinese counter stealth, anti-access, countermissile technologies are proliferating and the U.S. military needs "a plan that accounts for this."

Chinese Military Adventure

 China's military is in the nascent stages of becoming an expeditionary force. The country's anti-piracy deployment to the Gulf of Aden and the use of naval and air assets to support the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Libya in February and March 2011 have shown real capability in this arena.
What is an expeditionary power? The US Department of Defense defines it as 'an armed force organized to accomplish a specific objective in a foreign country.' Additionally, such a force should be able to transport, sustain,and protect itself so that it hasthe freedom toconduct independent missions necessary forthe defense of national interests. The PLA's gradual but important evolution toward greater expeditionary capability coincides with China's steadily rising economic presence and the increasing number of Chinese seeking their fortunes in volatile but often fast-growing countries in places like Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, both as employees of large state conglomerates and as private entrepreneurs.

For now however, due to cost and perception reasons, China's expeditionary capabilities will most likely be tailored to handling threats to Chinese citizens and economic interests abroad. Foremost among these are non-traditional threats to resource security, such as piracy and terrorism, as well as threats to PRC citizens overseas, such as the internal chaos seen in Libya. Compare this with the US military, which possesses highly sustainable expeditionary capabilities that enable it to fight large wars halfway across the world and simultaneously handle other contingencies. The platforms and operational infrastructure that make high-intensity missions possible can also be scaled down to deal with non-traditional security missions like humanitarian relief after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami or suppression of piracy off Somalia. Therefore, the PLA's naval, air and ground capabilities for out-of-area operations are likely at least 15 years away—and even further away from achieving the ability to handle the range of missions—from achieving the capabilities the US Department of Defense possesses today.
But the Chinese military is improving its capacity for dealing with smaller-scale threats that do not involve potential forcible entry into a hostile area, but still involve long-range deployments. Improved abilities to show the flag and assist with humanitarian missions and other military operations other than war can potentially allow a limited expeditionary military capacity to yield substantial diplomatic benefits for China.

The PLA Navy's anti-piracy mission to the Gulf of Aden, now over two years old, is proving highly successful. The 2010 China Defense White Paper noted that by the end of 2010, the PLA Navy (or PLAN)had dispatched 7 sorties with 18 ship deployments, 16 embarked helicopters,and 490 Special Operation Force(SOF)soldiers. Using means including accompanying escort, area patrol,and onboard escort, the PLAN has safeguarded 3,139 ships sailing under both the Chinese and foreign flags, rescued 29 other ships from pirate attacks and recovered 9 ships released from captivity by pirates.
The Gulf of Aden anti-piracy mission, in turn, helped improve the Chinese military's readiness to take part in the February/March 2011 operation to evacuate more than 30,000 PRC citizens from strife torn Libya. While the majority of these left via chartered ships and aircraft or overland, the operation marked the first time China has deployed military assets to protect PRC citizens overseas. Beijing deployed Xuzhou, one of its most modern missile frigates, and also sent four IL-76 long-range military transport aircraft to help evacuate PRC citizens trapped near Sabha in central Libya.

The PLA Navy led the way on China's first expeditionary mission, the GoA anti-piracy deployment, but the PLA Air Force has also been gaining experience in long-range operations through increasingly challenging military exercises that are helping it improve relevant capabilities such as aerial refueling and long-range strike. In September 2010 the PLAAF deployed SU-27's to the Operation Anatolian Eagle exercise in Turkey and the planes reportedly made refueling stops in Pakistan and Iran, according to Hurriyet news. In addition, during the September 2010 Peace Mission multilateral exercise with Kazakhstan and Russia, Chinese J-10s operating from bases in Xinjiang and supported by aerial refueling conducted a 2,000km strike mission with live ordnance against targets in Kazakhstan, according to reports.

Chinese crackdown on free speech.

 One month before Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was detained by authorities in his country, he made a powerful case for free expression in a film shown at the TED2011 conference in Long Beach, California.
The 53-year-old artist was shown talking about the limits on freedom of speech in China. At the end of the film, he was shown on a live webcam waving as he acknowledged the cheers and standing ovation from the audience at TED.
Ai Weiwei was detained April 3 at the Beijing airport, as he was about to travel to Hong Kong, and authorities later said he was under investigation for suspicion of "economic crimes." A spokesman for the foreign ministry, asked about Ai Weiwei, said, "It has nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression."
In the film, the artist said, "I'm living in a society in which freedom of speech is not allowed" and pointed to the blocking of Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube. He said searches for his name on domestic websites were blocked and that he was constantly under surveillance.
FlorCruz: Ai arrest highlights China's crackdown
Introducing the film, TED curator Chris Anderson showed some of the artist's works, including the Bird's Nest stadium, which he helped design for the Beijing Olympics, an exhibit at Tate Modern in London of more than 100 million handcrafted porcelain "sunflower seeds" and a series of photos in which his middle finger is extended toward symbols of national pride and power such as the Eiffel Tower and the Forbidden City in Beijing.
"In recent years, Ai Weiwei has become increasingly critical of the Chinese government and has faced consequences for that," Anderson said. "He's had exhibitions canceled, he's faced beatings and his beautiful new studio in Shanghai was bulldozed on January 11." Anderson said Ai Weiwei couldn't attend the conference "because of his current circumstances," but had secretly recorded the film.
In it, Ai Weiwei said he had been trying to connect his art to social change to encourage people to be more involved in society and "to help China to become a more democratic society."
After the devastating earthquake in China's Sichuan province in 2008, he mobilized people through the internet to investigate and document the deaths of students in poorly constructed buildings. He said he was "always trying to remind people that an individual can make an effort and also can make an impact."
The artist noted China's great strides in growing its economy and becoming more connected to and recognized by the world community.
"Still we are still a communist society," he said. "Basic values such as freedom of speech and human rights are still in poor condition. Many people -- only because (they) speak their mind -- they can be put in jail or can be put in a very difficult situation." Ai Weiwei said Western nations are tolerating a lack of human rights in China. "This is very shortsighted and will not help China to become a modern society."
Eventually, he said, change will come. "Nobody can really avoid that."