China’s Blue Water Ambitions?
China’s northern port city of Dalian is the location for American technological spy-craft to witness Beijing’s Naval ambitions, it is here where Beijing fields her first aircraft carrier launched last month to encircle Taiwan and threaten her neighbors in both the East & the South China Sea.
The media coverage of the event was favorable to Beijing, even if their remain nearly insurmountable obstacles for Beijing’s naval ambitions to come to fruition, December 24 saw China begin to thwart U.S. dominance in the Pacific. For Admiral Wu Shengli, this has been a long time coming.
The Liaoning is China’s first aircraft carrier and Beijing pulled out all the props corralling her with escorts of destroyers, frigates and a corvette. As the refueling ship arranged for hookup outside the port of Qingdao, they ran her through the Miyako Straits right into the heart of an impending quagmire: the South China Sea.
Beijing wishes to send threatening signals to every nation in her regional grasp. She seeks to dominant, with consequences. By herself, the Liaoning remains incapable of pushing the Americans back to a second island chain far out in the Pacific. Like Pakistan and North Korea, Beijing seeks absolute security guarantee for oil, goods and communications; her commercial and geo-strategic interests are one.
Their first aircraft carrier is based on a Soviet Kuznetsov class design; it is nothing near in design or operational craft near our Nimitz-class; carrying only 24 J-15’s, these fixed wing aircraft don’t have a catapult, but a lift deck identical to a ski jump. This means two significant strategic insights regarding capability. One, China’s J-15’s need to use much less fuel and fewer ordinance. It also means slower early warning and anti-submarine aircrafts cannot take off from the Liaoning. She is vulnerable when operating far off shore based air support. This ship’s hull was taken from a Ukrainian shipyard, this means Beijing’s first aircraft carrier depends on steam turbines, cutting its range, speed and operation tempo.
What can the Liaoning do? It provides air protection for China’s regional littoral fleets and can be used in disaster missions and evacuations. Other than that, not much.
Just as the Russian Sukhoi SU-33 jet found it tough to fly night missions off the Syrian coast, Beijing’s J-15 has no catapult, but the Chinese are experimenting on land. To offset any institutional failure in fielding indigenous aircraft carriers, the Chinese are already fielding shore based anti-ship ballistic missiles called ‘carrier killers’. The DF-21D & the DF-26 are fielded to shore up China’s near permanent vulnerability. As of now, the Chinese are hedging, but they may just get it right over time.
In the meantime, the American regime has a cultural advantage, our crews have unrivaled tribal knowledge of operational craft in all weather terrain, something the boys in Beijing don’t have.
Originally published on William Holland’s blog.