Thursday, February 03, 2005

Chinese Military Equipment Improvements

December 17, 2004: France and Germany continue to pressure the European Union to drop its arms embargo (enacted in 1989 to protest violent government suppression of a democracy movement that year.) France, in particular, sold China many high teach weapons systems in the 1980s, and now wants to sell replacements, and new stuff. China may already be getting military technology from European firms, as China is accustomed to getting stuff any way it can. For example, this week the United States demanded that the Israeli Minister of Defense be fired because Israel upgraded electronic gear, containing American technology, that it had sold to China in the 1990s. The U.S. allowed Israel to repair the equipment, but later found out that it had been upgraded. The U.S. is mad at Israel for improving Chinas air defense and electronic warfare systems. It's not just that many of the Israeli systems contain American technology the Chinese will steal, but because China's threats against Taiwan may one day have American pilots and sailors getting killed because of those systems. China has long tried to steal whatever military technology it could. Many nations are still willing to deal with China, knowing that they are dealing with thieves. The sales arrangements simply take into account the possibility of technology theft, and force the Chinese to pay a premium for their potential larceny. Russia, Israel, France, and even American firms, have done business this way. However, the Pentagon has no patience for this sort of thing, knowing that American troops will ultimately pay for these deals in blood.

December 8, 2004: China has organized its military build up over the last decade with one apparent purpose; taking Taiwan by force. In order to do this, China must be able to control the air over the 300 kilometers of waters that separate Taiwan from the mainland. China has spent billions to buy modern Su-27s and Su-30 fighters from Russia. Modern destroyers and submarines have been bought from Russia as well, in addition to technology for AWACs type aircraft. Money has been spent to allow Chinese pilots to fly as often as their Taiwanese counterparts. China has improved it's amphibious and airborne forces and held more amphibious exercises. A major obstacle to taking Taiwan is the U.S. Navy. To deal with that, China recently launched its first modern SSBN (nuclear submarine carrying ballistic missile.) This boat can carry 16 missiles capable of reaching any target in the United States. The Chinese submarine will almost certainly be tracked by American subs, raising the risk of the Chinese SSBN being torpedoed by a U.S. attack submarine if the Chinese try and use their SSBN missiles to threaten America over support for Taiwan. The Chinese are betting that they can get lucky and evade the American SSN (nuclear attack submarine) that shadows hostile SSBNs, and make an effective threat against the United States. But even if China gets America to back off via nuclear blackmail, it's still a toss-up as to whether the Chinese can put together a military force that can overwhelm Taiwanese defenses. Launching an amphibious operation across 300 kilometers of open ocean is a formidable undertaking. There are many modern weapons, like cruise missiles and "smart" naval mines, that can make life very difficult for an amphibious force. Then again, China may just be spending all the money to make an elaborate, convincing and expensive bluff. Making Taiwan an offer they can't refuse, but that China cannot back up.

October 1, 2004: China continues efforts to obtain military technology from the United States by any means it can. In the past week, two Chinese citizens were arrested in Wisconsin, for attempting to illegally exporting to China components for military radars or communications equipment.

August 10, 2004: China is rapidly installing more ballistic missiles on the coast opposite Taiwan. By next year, it's expected that about 800 missiles will be in position. If used, perhaps 75 percent of the missiles would actually hit their target (the others would suffer failures in propulsion or guidance systems.) Each missile is the equivalent of a half ton bomb. But currently, the missiles have primitive guidance systems, meaning that the warheads will usually hit up to 500 meters from the target. The Chinese are believed to be equipping the missiles with GPS, although the Taiwanese can jam this. Guidance systems that are more difficult to jam are in the works, but are probably five or more years away.

May 24, 2004: After spending nearly two billion dollars a year, for over a decade, to buy Russian high tech weapons, China is demanding that Russia sell the manufacturing technology so that China can build these weapons itself. Russia has been reluctant to do this, as military technology, and the ability to build high tech weapons, is one of the few military advantages Russia has over China. This is going to get interesting.

May 20, 2004: China has been blocked, by American diplomatic pressure, from buying several "counter stealth" Vera radars from a Czech Republic manufacturer. The Vera radar claims to defeat the stealth capabilities, although there has been little opportunity to test this in a combat situation. But on paper, the Vera radars are apparently a threat, and the United States was eager to prevent the Chinese from getting this equipment (which would threaten the effectiveness of F-117, F-22, F-35, B-1 and B-2 aircraft.)

May 7, 2004: China's military buildup appears different depending on where you are. In Taiwan, the $70 billion a year China is now spending on the armed forces appears as preparation for an invasion of Taiwan. Hundreds of ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan, new ship building programs that includes amphibious ships. South East Asian nations see the Chinese buildup as directed at control of the shipping lanes so crucial to the economic health of those nations. But the revamping of the Chinese armed forces also appear to be directed at countering the military power of the United States. This is most obvious in ways that do not get much coverage. There's the enormous amount of effort the Chinese are putting into Internet based combat, and the ability to attack space satellites. Both of these areas are currently dominated by the U.S. And then there are all the books published in China that discuss future wars with the United States. Books are not published in China unless the government allows it, and some of these anti-American efforts were written by military officers.

April 10, 2004: Pakistani test pilots flew the joint Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 fighter. The aircraft first flew last September and is to enter mass production in two years, with another 16 JF-17s being built in the meantime for testing purposes. The JF-17 project has been going on since 1992 and has cost over half a billion dollars. Most of the money has come from China. The project has gone through several name changes (FC-1, Super 7). The 13 ton warplane is meant to be a low cost ($20 million) alternative to the American F-16. The JF-17 is considered the equal to earlier versions of the F-16, but only 80 percent as effective as more recent F-16 models. The JF-17 uses the same Russian engine, the RD-93, that is used in the MiG-29. The JF-17 design is based on a cancelled Russian project, the MiG-33. Most of the JF-17 electronics are Western, with Italian firms being major suppliers. The JF-17 can carry 3.6 tons of weapons and use radar guided and heat seeking missiles. It has max speed of Mach 1.6, an operating range of 1,300 kilometers and a max altitude of 55,000 feet.

China and Pakistan have been allies since the 1950s and Pakistan has bought much of its military equipment from China.

From and unknown blog post and confirmed from;

According to the 2004-2005 issue of Jane's Fighting Ships, and confirmed by on its threads "landing craft" and "minor landing craft" (whic post pictures, hull number lists, and comments), PLAN is building landing ships at an unprecedented rate. These include:

1) The Yuting II class LSTH - an improved version of the existing helicopter capable LST. Nine ships have completed in 2003 and 2004, compared to a history of one every 2 or 3 years. My PLA historian friend's copy of the PLA Officer's Handbook indicates these vessels have a maximum load of 2000 tons - 250% what is estimated by Western experts - so past estimates of load capabilities were too low. No less than three shipyards are building this class simultaneously.

2) The 87 meter long Yunshu class LSM. This is a scale up of the Yuliang, after a period of experimenting with a scaled down version. There are also three different shipyards building this class.

3) A 64 meter landing ship - the first hull number spotted was 3315 - but the class leader was 3232. This is classified as an LCU, but it is 1 meter longer than China's smallest LSM, and it is way to big to be loaded on ships which normally could carry an LCU. I classify it as a small LSM. It may be a scale down of the Yudeng class LSM, but I think it is a new, dual hulled design. China has been experimenting with multi-hull vessels for reasons of efficiency in a seaway (speed in rough seas, a major issue in the Taiwan Strait), and is close to tied for first place in the world in this (with Australia). Once again, no less than three shipyards are building this vessel. Janes says "which suggests that high numbers can be expected."

4) Reports of the construction of LSDs or LPDs with flight decks are now more common, even though they are built in covered ways. It appears they are nearing completion. These ships can service two transport helicopters and operate four. They can carry 4 LCAC and are good looking ships, similar to current European vessels of similar concept. It is said sighting of their flight decks was thought by some observers to mean they were aircraft carriers. The have a SAM system forward and very impressive defensive guns. They also carry small ACVs, four to a side


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