Monday 21 July 2008

Beijing's red espionage spider's web on us nuclear programme

The fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War had a profound impact not only on how security and intelligence professionals viewed the world of espionage but also on the motivations of the players and the targets of their espionage activities.
During the height of the Cold War, no other nation could match the desire and ability of the Soviet Union's KGB to steal American corporate and military secrets, particularly technology secrets. That has since changed, however. In today's information age, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has replaced and even improved on the KGB methods of industrial espionage to the point that the PRC now presents one of the most capable threats to US technology leadership and by extension its national security.
What we know, and don't know
What we know thus far about China's espionage activities against US weapons laboratories and other technology development programs is cause enough for concern. The US intelligence community's official damage assessment of Chinese espionage targeting America's nuclear technology secrets tells us this much:

What we know:
  • China obtained by espionage classified US nuclear weapons information that probably accelerated its program to develop future nuclear weapons. This collection program allowed China to focus successfully on critical paths and avoid less promising approaches to nuclear weapon designs.
  • China obtained at least basic design information on several modern US nuclear re-entry vehicles, including the Trident II (W88).
  • China also obtained information on a variety of US weapon design concepts and weaponization features, including those of the neutron bomb.

    What we don't know:
  • We cannot determine the full extent of weapons information obtained. For example, we do not know whether any weapon design documentation or blueprints were acquired.
  • We believe it is more likely that the Chinese used US design information to inform their own program than to replicate US weapon designs.

    Yet there is much more to China's quest for US technology. China has obtained a major advantage that the former KGB did not enjoy during the Cold War: unprecedented access to American academic institutions and industry. At any given time there are more than 100,000 PRC nationals in the United States attending universities and working throughout US industries. It is important to note here that these individuals are not assumed to be spies, but given their status as PRC nationals they remain at higher risks of being a major component of the PRC's nebulous industrial intelligence collection operation.

    In fact, there are very few professional PRC intelligence operatives actively working on collecting US technology secrets compared to the number of PRC civilians who are actively recruited (either by appealing to their sense of patriotism or through other more coercive means) to routinely gather technology secrets and deliver those secrets to the PRC. Thus, the PRC employs a wide range of people and organizations to serve as its "white glove", and do its dirty work abroad, including scientists, students, business executives and even phony front companies or acquired subsidiaries of US companies as evidenced by a string of recent high profile cases.

    Beijing's 16-character policy
    Nowhere is the nexus of the military-industrial complex in the PRC more evident than in the codification of the 1997 "16-character policy", which makes it official PRC policy to deliberately intertwine state-run and commercial organizations for casting a cloud of ambiguity over PRC military modernization. In their literal translation, the 16 characters mean as follows:

    Jun-min jiehe (Combine the military and civil);
    Ping-zhan jiehe (Combine peace and war);
    Jun-pin youxian (Give priority to military products);
    Yi min yan jun (Let the civil support the military).

    The 16-character policy is important because of what it does for the strategic development of the PRC's industrial and economic espionage program: it provides commercial cover for military industrial companies to acquire dual-use technology through purchase or joint-venture business dealings, and at the same time for trained spies who work directly for the PRC's military establishment, whose operational mandate is then to gain access to and steal the high-tech tools and systems developed by the United States and its Western allies [1].

    The two primary PRC organizations involved in actively collecting US technological secrets are the Ministry of State Security (MSS) and the Military Intelligence Department (MID) of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The MSS, now headed by Minister Geng Huichang, relies on professionals, such as research scientists and others employed outside of intelligence circles, to collect information of intelligence value. In fact, some research organizations and other non-intelligence arms of the PRC government direct their own autonomous collection programs [2].

    According to US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates, there are currently more than 3,000 corporations operating in the United States that have ties to the PRC and its government technology collection program. Many are US-based subsidiaries of Chinese-owned companies; while in the past they were relatively easy to identify, recent studies indicate that many have changed their names in an effort to distance themselves from their PRC owners.

    China's red spider's web
    China's espionage efforts targeting proprietary technologies developed in the United States stretch back decades. But China's spy craft has evolved rapidly and now presents a serious challenge that many in the West are unprepared to counter. For example, recent cases investigated by the FBI have involved entire families of naturalized American citizens from China, prompting the bureau to take out a Chinese-language advertisement in San Francisco Bay area newspapers urging Chinese Americans to report suspicious activity. In addition, China has clearly taken a long-term view of espionage against the US technology industry, handling some agents for decades.

    One of the most recent cases, for example, involves a former Boeing engineer who now stands accused of giving China proprietary information about several US aerospace programs, including the space shuttle. The affidavit in the case alleges that Chinese intelligence officials first approached Dongfan "Greg" Chung of Orange, California, with intelligence collection requirements in 1979. Chung was arrested on February 11, 2008, and was scheduled to be sentenced this month.

    At the same time Chung was arrested and accused of stealing proprietary Boeing information, Chinese businessmen Tai Shen Kuo and Yu Xin Kang were arrested and charged with cultivating several US defense officials, one of whom passed information on projected US military sales to Taiwan for the next five years.

    Many PRC domestic intelligence activities are directed against foreign businessmen or technical experts. The data elicited from unsuspecting persons or collected by technical surveillance means is used by Chinese state-run or private enterprises. Prominent Beijing hotels, such as the Palace Hotel, the Great Wall Hotel and the Xiang Shan Hotel, are known to monitor the activities of their clientele.

    Chinese government-owned companies have also been involved in schemes to steal the intellectual property of US companies. They have done this using the corporate equivalent of sleeper cells - foreign executives hired by US companies on work visas, as well as naturalized American citizens who then establish US companies for the purpose of gaining access to the proprietary data of other US firms.
  • Wednesday 16 July 2008

    Offensive Airpower with Chinese Characteristics

    On the 50th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in November 1999, Chinese president Jiang Zemin announced that China would “strive to build a powerful, modernized People’s Air Force that is capable of both attacking and defending.” This marked a major shift in Chinese strategy. Since its establishment, the PLAAF intended its aircraft acquisitions, personnel training, and doctrine for defensive air operations.To carry out the offensive operations described by Jiang Zemin, the PLAAF needed to modernize its aircraft inventory; revise strategic, operational, and tactical doctrine; and revamp training programs. In recent years, the Chinese military has undergone rapid modernization to develop air-warfare capabilities.

    This article examines the PLAAF’s air-warfare capabilities and explains the nature of offensive Chinese airpower. In recent years, the PLAAF has acquired new combat platforms and increased joint and combined training but has yet to develop strategic capabilities that allow it to strike targets outside the Pacific region. (According to Air Force Doctrine Document [AFDD] 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, strategic operations consist of “offensive action[s] . . . that most directly achieve our national security objectives by affecting the adversary’s leadership, conflict-sustaining resources, and strategy.”) China’s lack of such capabilities leads to questions about its intentions regarding the use of offensive airpower. The PLAAF’s paucity of effective long-range offensive airpower stems from multiple factors, primarily insufficient offensive weapons systems, excessive command centralization, and China’s inexperience in offensive air operations. Geopolitical factors have also limited that country’s desire to develop more significant strategic capabilities.
    Additionally, the article posits that China is developing limited offensive-airpower capabilities as a deterrent against actions by its neighbors and American forces in the Pacific. Rather than implement a doctrine of strategic airpower, China will develop “offensive airpower with Chinese characteristics,” a doctrine that uses traditionally tactical platforms to carry out strategic operations in the country’s periphery. The article begins by examining historical factors that contributed to the stagnation of the growth of offensive air warfare and then analyzes the PLAAF’s development and possible intentions for its offensive air force. Lastly, it considers the implications that Chinese airpower has for the United States and the means by which the latter can counter its development in order to maintain regional stability in Asia.
    History of the Development of
    Chinese Offensive Airpower

    Certain events in the history of the PLAAF caused its modern capabilities in offensive air warfare to lag significantly behind those of other world powers. The incompatibility of offensive airpower with Mao Tse-tung’s doctrine of “People’s War” and the withdrawal of Soviet military aid in 1960 during the Sino-Soviet rift hampered the growth of strategic Chinese airpower by preventing the acquisition of new technologies and the development of a doctrine of offensive air warfare.
    Prior to a series of doctrinal changes in the 1980s and 1990s, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), seeking guidance on confronting a more technologically advanced enemy, looked to Mao’s concept of People’s War. That concept would defend China from attack by using large numbers of troops armed with low-tech weapons to overwhelm an adversary through quantity rather than quality of personnel and weaponry. In such a war, the army, along with paramilitary forces, would work with the populace to engage in both conventional and guerrilla operations to overextend adversary forces. Once this occurred, conventional troops would attack and destroy isolated groups of enemy soldiers.

    The development of offensive airpower proved inherently incompatible with People’s War. Since Mao based his war-fighting doctrine on defense of the Chinese mainland, the PLAAF primarily had responsibility for guarding the nation’s airspace. From its formative years during the Korean War, the PLAAF armed and trained its personnel to fly air-superiority missions, focusing only limited attention on development of strategic capabilities. After suffering high casualties during its first bombing mission against a South Korean intelligence facility in November 1951, the PLAAF withdrew from regular service the bombers it had acquired to fly missions against targets in South Korea. After this incident, China focused on air superiority.

    A nation hoping to effectively employ strategic airpower requires technologically advanced aircraft; command, control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C2ISR) systems; and significant pilot training, none of which conformed to the low-tech nature of People’s War. PLA troops would overwhelm enemy forces using low-tech weapons—not high-tech systems such as strategic bombers. Thus, rather than develop modern weapons systems for long-range offensive missions, Mao’s air force acquired Soviet tactical aircraft of Korean War vintage. The Soviet Union’s military aid to China in the form of aircraft and training initially helped the fledgling PLAAF establish combat capabilities, but Chinese dependence on Soviet assistance limited the development of indigenous aircraft and doctrine. Soviet aid to the PLAAF began during the Korean War and continued until the Sino-Soviet rift in 1960. Termination of this material aid and the withdrawal of Soviet advisers left China with an antiquated air force and limited resources for modernization. The PLAAF supplemented and replaced Soviet-supplied aircraft with Chinese-produced copies. Through the 1970s, China’s fleet included various platforms, including Chinese versions of the MiG-17 Fresco (J-5) and MiG-19 Farmer (J-6) interceptors as well as the Tu-16 Badger (H-6) intermediate-range bomber.9 Many H-6s remain in service today.

    The PLAAF made no significant progress in developing aircraft capable of carrying out offensive air operations until the 1970s. Early in that decade, China attempted to develop an indigenous strategic bomber using British-made Rolls-Royce Spey turbofans.10 After abandoning this project due to technical and financial difficulties, the Chinese launched a program to reengine their H-6 bombers with the Rolls-Royce turbofans but cancelled this project as well for financial reasons.11 Although China upgraded the avionics and ­electronic-countermeasures systems of its 1950s-era H-6 bombers, the PLAAF did not acquire a long-range strategic bomber capable of projecting airpower beyond the Chinese mainland during this period.12 Concurrently, the United States developed the B-52 Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer, and F-111 Aardvark, all of which it has employed strategically. The low-tech nature of People’s War and China’s reliance on the Soviet Union for military assistance ensured that China would build a fleet of antiquated aircraft rather than a modern air force capable of carrying out offensive operations.
    China’s Quest for
    Offensive Airpower
    After an extended period of minimally developing equipment and doctrine, the PLAAF began to modernize rapidly. This process started in the early 1990s after the first Gulf War demonstrated that US airpower could easily defeat militaries based on the Soviet model, such as those of Iraq and China. The use of strategic airpower by the United States and its allies to strike leadership and military infrastructure in Iraq—and later in the Balkans—forced PLAAF analysts to recognize China’s inability to defeat a modern military.13 To address deficiencies in waging a modern war, the PLA launched a revolution in military affairs to enhance capabilities by acquiring new equipment, improving command and control (C2) infrastructure, and increasing military training.14 A significant portion of this development focused on improving the offensive capabilities of the PLAAF.

    Acquiring New Equipment

    After a period of limited programs designed to develop indigenous aircraft, the PLAAF has increased its acquisition of both domestic and Russian aircraft. The procurement of advanced strike, refueling, and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft represents the most visible component of China’s air force modernization. Specifically, it has acquired advanced multirole combat aircraft, including the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30, Chinese J-8 and J-10 fighters, Ilyushin transports, and indigenously produced AWACS platforms.15 These aircraft provide China with tactical air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities, but the lack of a long-range bomber prevents it from projecting airpower beyond the Pacific.

    The backbone of the current Chinese bomber fleet consists of approximately 120 H‑6 intermediate-range bombers, supplemented by Q-5 and JH-7 fighter-bombers. The H-6, the largest of China’s bombers, has a weapons payload of 20,000 pounds compared to the American B-52’s 60,000. The operational range of the H-6 is also significantly smaller than that of the B-52, restricting the aircraft’s operations to the Pacific. The Q-5 and JH-7 have even smaller payloads and ranges, limiting their reach to nations in China’s periphery. In January 2007, Internet reports indicated that China had begun producing upgraded variants of the H-6 capable of carrying cruise missiles and precision-guided munitions up to 3,000 nautical miles.16 New H-6K aircraft enable China to operate further beyond its borders, but the lack of forward operating bases prevents it from projecting airpower globally.

    A second component of China’s equipment-modernization program involves the acquisition of aerial-refueling platforms. The PLAAF considers the ability to extend the range of its combat fleet critical to carrying out operations beyond the Chinese periphery.17 J-8 and J-7 fighters, which comprise most of the PLAAF fleet, have the range to reach potential conflict zones such as the Paracel and Macclesfield Islands, but without aerial refueling, they cannot loiter or engage adversary aircraft. Having too few forward operating bases also limits the PLAAF’s ability to carry out long-range offensive operations. Unlike the United States, which can launch operations from strategically located air bases throughout the world, China has no major air bases outside its mainland. Without aerial refueling, China cannot carry out effective offensive operations, let alone adequately protect what that country considers its territorial airspace.

    To address its need for aerial-refueling capabilities, China converted a few H-6 bombers into refueling aircraft in the 1990s and in 2005 ordered eight Russian Il-78 tankers.18 Although China’s aerial refueling has improved, its effectiveness in an operational environment remains questionable. The PLAAF’s and People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force’s (PLANAF) current refueling fleet represents only a small fraction of the 585 aerial tankers operated by the US Air Force.19 China’s pilots also have limited air-refueling experience. Despite acquiring tankers nearly two decades ago, the PLAAF did not conduct overwater refueling until 2005.20 Furthermore, because most of its combat aircraft cannot be aerially refueled, China needs an extensive upgrade program to remedy this deficiency.

    Advancements in Command and Control

    Operations that depend on the synergistic effect of aerial tankers, strike aircraft, tactical fighters, and other airborne platforms require significant coordination that can be achieved only through comprehensive and flexible C2. Current Chinese C2 relies on outdated communication systems, delaying the dissemination of orders and directives.21 Development of indigenous airborne C2ISR platforms such as the KJ-2000 and KJ-200 AWACS—a major component of improving C2 technology in the PLAAF—has enabled China to carry out airborne surveillance, C2, and battle management. The crash of a PLAAF KJ-200 during a test flight in June 2006 that killed all 40 people on board set back the Chinese AWACS program since the victims were key technical staff in designing and testing the KJ-200.22 Despite the mishap, China has continued to develop AWACS aircraft for operational use. Indeed, it is likely that the KJ-2000 has recently entered operational service with the PLAAF.23

    Although one can improve technology through the acquisition of modern equipment, the PLAAF will need time to alter its C2 philosophy. The Chinese military has not traditionally delegated authority to junior personnel, a situation that leads to a highly centralized C2 infrastructure in which senior officers make tactical decisions.24 Thus, the PLAAF’s intentions with regard to operating its new airborne C2 platforms remain unclear. Typically, junior- and midgrade officers serve as air-battle managers on most non-Chinese C2ISR platforms, but the PLAAF uses senior officers in control towers. To employ its airborne C2ISR technology effectively in offensive operations, the PLAAF must first change its approach to command by delegating authority to junior personnel—something Chinese military leaders may prove reluctant to do.

    Improved Training

    In recent years, the PLAAF has revamped its training program to improve the quality of personnel and enhance combat effectiveness. It has established training exercises that allow Chinese pilots to fly realistic missions in a ­variety of flying conditions. Moreover, the PLAAF has introduced tactical training that focuses on potential combat confrontations with Taiwan and the United States, enabling pilots to practice both air-to-air and air-to-ground tactics designed to improve China’s precision-strike capabilities.25 During aggressor training (recently added), Chinese Su-27s and J-8s simulate the tactics of Taiwan’s Mirage 2000 and F-16 fighters.26

    China has also increased joint and combined training to improve its ability to operate with foreign militaries outside the mainland. The Chinese integrated joint operations plan of 2002 led to an increase in the PLAAF’s joint training.27 Future military operations will likely include more joint operations, meaning that other components of the PLA—primarily the PLANAF—will support the PLAAF in carrying out offensive operations. A Sino-Russian exercise in 2005 emphasized the PLAAF’s ­precision-attack capabilities, employing aerial tankers, bombers, tactical aircraft, and airborne forces.28 An exercise held with the Tajik military in 2006 demonstrated China’s airlift capabilities.29 Both exercises reflect the country’s ongoing attempts to improve offensive capabilities but also reveal the limitation of current capabilities to nations along China’s periphery.
    Offensive Airpower with
    Chinese Characteristics

    China’s pattern of aircraft acquisitions suggests that a doctrinal shift has occurred in the PLAAF. Following the first Gulf War, China’s unsuccessful attempt to purchase Tu-22 long-range bombers from the Russian government likely represented an effort to develop strategic aerial capabilities similar to those of the United States. Despite this failure, the Chinese continued to develop air-warfare capabilities through the 1990s. NATO air operations during Operation Allied Force in 1999 further influenced PLAAF modernization, reflected in the fact that Chinese strategists focused on the role of airpower and long-range strike in diminishing the use of ground forces.30 Following the Balkan war, China accelerated its acquisition of platforms that the US Air Force had employed in Allied Force, such as multirole fighter aircraft and aerial tankers.31 This acquisition program continues today.

    Although offensive airpower can be either tactical or strategic, the US government classifies China’s quest for offensive airpower as strategic.32 The Department of Defense believes that PLAAF modernization will result in a Chinese air force with strategic capabilities, but China’s current aircraft acquisition and development tell a different story. Most of the PLAAF’s new Russian and indigenous aircraft are air-superiority fighters and fighter-bombers, both characteristic of tactical operations. Even with the support of C2 aircraft and tankers, the PLAAF’s short-range tactical aircraft would have difficulty traveling far beyond the Chinese periphery. In 2005 Russia offered to sell China long-range Tu-22 and Tu-95 bombers, the same aircraft the Chinese attempted to obtain in the mid-1990s; however, China has yet to purchase those platforms.33 China’s decision to acquire short-range aircraft rather than strategic bombers indicates the current limitation of its airpower projection to the Pacific.

    The acquisition of multirole fighters and AWACS aircraft, along with China’s deficit in long-range strategic bombers, forces outsiders to question how Chinese military leaders define offensive airpower, which currently appears to combine tactical platforms with tactical and strategic doctrine—referred to in this article as offensive airpower with Chinese characteristics. This doctrine uses tactical multirole fighters to attack traditionally strategic targets, including C2, industrial, and leadership infrastructure; additionally, they carry out tactical missions such as close air support and air superiority.

    The nature of China’s development of offensive airpower indicates that the country limits its view of potential threats to nations along its periphery and does not currently seek to project airpower beyond the region. Despite the restricted nature of its capabilities, China will likely continue to modernize its air force and may eventually develop global power projection.
    Implications and Responses
    for the United States

    The possibility of China’s ever employing offensive air capabilities against its neighbors or American forces in the region remains questionable. The country’s white paper on national defense of 2004 states that PLAAF doctrine has shifted from air defense to both defensive and offensive missions; it also indicates, however, that China adheres to a national policy of a defensive nature and “will never go for expansion.”34 Although this policy implies a mission of purely territorial defense, development of the PLAAF’s offensive capabilities appears to contradict this assertion. Recently acquired platforms such as the H-6K, supported by AWACS aircraft and aerial refuelers, enable China to project its power regionally into hot spots such as Taiwan and the Spratly Islands, over which China and Vietnam clashed in 1988. If China is indeed committed to building a defensive military, offensive airpower with Chinese characteristics would find use only as a deterrent.

    As part of its “peaceful rise,” China ostensibly hopes to improve relations with other Pacific nations. Military conflict in the Pacific would impede trade in the region, hurting China’s export-dependent economy. Japan and Taiwan, the nations that Chinese defense analysts consider the most threatening, are among China’s top trade partners.35 Relying on exports and foreign investment for domestic modernization, the Chinese probably would not attack their neighbors since a war instigated by Beijing could result in sanctions and jeopardize foreign investment, thereby devastating China’s growing economy.36 In addition to causing economic harm, an unprovoked attack on Taiwan or other key US regional allies could possibly lead to an American-led military response. The potential economic harm and military repercussions of such conflict have led Beijing to rely on diplomacy rather than force. In recent years, China has increased cooperation with regional economic and security organizations such as the Association of South East Asian Nations. In 2002 the Chinese demonstrated their commitment to diplomacy by signing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, a document intended to prevent conflict over the Spratly Islands and other disputed islands.37

    Even though the likelihood of China’s initiating a war in the Pacific region remains small, offensive development of the PLAAF still poses a threat to regional stability. The ability of China to project military power throughout the Pacific jeopardizes American influence in the region. The United States has maintained military dominance in the Pacific since the end of World War II, but recent Chinese military development has the potential to shift the balance of power there. Even with China’s promise of a peaceful rise, its acquisition of platforms such as the J-10 and Su-27 fighters may lead the PLAAF to become a regional, technological peer competitor to the United States and other Pacific nations. Chinese militarization may lead neighboring states such as Japan and Korea, which recently expressed concern over the lack of transparency in China’s military buildup, to develop more aggressive military postures.38 China might respond by increasing its own military capabilities, resulting in a spiral process that could lead to intense diplomatic or military confrontations.39 It might also use airpower to project power to Central Asian states, such as Kazakhstan, that supply China’s burgeoning energy demand.40 Any form of PLAAF involvement in these nations could produce tension with the United States and Russia, both of which wish to gain influence in the geostrategically important region.41

    To maintain the current balance of power in the Pacific, the United States must limit the PLAAF’s ability to wage offensive air operations. Adm Dennis C. Blair, former commander of US Pacific Command, declared, “We respect the authority of the People’s Liberation Army in their mainland. Yet we must make them understand that the ocean and sky [are] ours.”42 The Chinese have an inherent right to defend their sovereignty, but the United States must work with its global allies to limit the development of China’s offensive air capabilities.

    Limiting the Transfer of Military Technology

    China depends heavily on foreign nations for the PLAAF’s modernization, looking to Russia, Israel, France, and Germany for the preponderance of its military technology. Outsourcing the development of the Chinese air force to foreign nations allows the United States to influence many of China’s weapons suppliers through incentives or punitive measures. Legally, the United States can block the transfer of weapons systems containing American technology. In recent years, however, it has even stopped the sale of advanced military hardware that does not contain American equipment.

    The fact that Israel, China’s second-largest supplier, relies heavily on US military aid gives the United States significant leverage over ­Israel’s program of weapons sales. In 2000 pressure from the United States prevented Israel from selling its Phalcon AWACS to China. The Israeli cancellation, which followed a US threat to withhold $2.8 billion in military aid, delayed the introduction of an AWACS platform into the PLAAF until 2006.43 In late 2004, Israel attempted to upgrade spare parts for Harpy unmanned aircraft, which Israel Aircraft Industries had sold to China in 1994. Although Israel did not send the upgraded parts to China, the United States froze Israeli participation in the US-led development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter due to security concerns—a decision in line with recommendations made by the US-China Commission in 2004.44 The commission suggested that Congress restrict foreign defense contractors who sell military-use technology to China from participating in research and development by the US defense community.

    The commission also urged Congress to press for continuation of the European Union’s (EU) arms embargo on China, believing that lifting the embargo, imposed after the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989, would accelerate modernization of the PLA.45 Even with the embargo in place, EU sales of military equipment to China increased from 54 million euros in 2001 to 416 million in 2003.46 Equipment sold to the Chinese military includes British-manufactured propellers used on the Chinese Y-8 Airborne Early Warning System, Italian Aspide air-to-air missiles, components of the French AS-365 Dauphin military helicopters, and advanced British and Italian avionics for the F-7 fighter aircraft.47 The export of military technology to China continues despite the embargo because the EU left interpretation and enforcement of that action to member states.48 Although some EU nations prohibit the sale of all military items to China, others, such as the United Kingdom, limit their embargoes to lethal weapons and military equipment that could be used for internal repression; those countries continue to export nonlethal military technology, such as avionics, radars, and aircraft-propulsion systems.49

    To limit the development of China’s offensive capabilities, the United States must continue to pressure the EU to continue its ban on weapons sales. In addition, it should urge EU nations to standardize the guidelines regarding technologies that can be sold to China. States that abide by these guidelines and halt the transfer of military technology to China should receive incentives such as military aid and the right to participate in US-led joint weapons-development programs (e.g., the Joint Strike Fighter project). States that choose to continue to sell advanced military hardware to China should face restrictions similar to those imposed on Israel in 2004.

    Limited Engagement

    To discourage the offensive development of the PLAAF, the United States must couple military deterrence and embargoes with limited cooperation with the Chinese military. Some Americans fear that cooperatively engaging with China’s armed forces would allow the Chinese to learn doctrine and tactics that could improve their ability to wage war against the United States.50 Although these concerns are justified, engagement promotes greater transparency in military affairs, improves mutual understanding between the United States and China, and helps establish lines of communication among senior leaders that can reduce the possibility of accidents between US and Chinese forces.51

    Primarily, the US Navy has carried out current US military engagement with China. That service has successfully monopolized recent Sino-US engagement efforts because a Navy admiral traditionally heads US Pacific Command and because naval forces conduct a significant portion of US military operations in the region. Developing ties between naval forces remains important, but the Chinese consider both the navy and the air force priorities in PLA modernization. Given China’s emphasis on strengthening its air force, the US Air Force should play a role equal to that of the Navy in engaging the Chinese military. Interaction between the US Air Force and the PLAAF should avoid exposing US military capabilities in areas such as force projection and C2ISR operations. Instead, it should focus on conducting professional exchanges and developing capabilities that enable China and the United States to respond collectively to regional humanitarian and security issues.

    Promoting transparency and mutual understanding between the PLAAF’s and US Air Force’s leadership is fundamental to building trust between China and the United States. High-level meetings between senior officers and defense ministers can further this objective, provide an environment where senior leaders can establish lines of communications to reduce chances of misunderstanding in the event of a crisis, and plan future exercises as well as professional-development exchanges, the latter allowing personnel from both the PLAAF and US Air Force to learn about the other’s operations and leadership systems. The US Air Force should invite PLAAF personnel to participate in professional military education programs at all levels, on the condition that China reciprocate by providing Americans similar access to PLAAF training programs. Bilateral exchanges should occur throughout the spectrum of leadership, from enlisted schools and officer accession programs through senior education institutions such as the National Defense University. These programs allow for the direct interaction of military personnel without political interference. Direct military-exchange programs at all levels contribute to mutual trust and understanding.52

    Recognizing China as a critical global actor, the United States is encouraging that nation to act as an international stakeholder.53 The US Air Force can help China achieve this status through combined training in humanitarian relief. Since its creation, the US Air Force has provided airlift support to relief operations following disasters. These missions offer vital assistance and improve the image of the nation that carries them out.54 The US Air Force should initiate exercises with the PLAAF that allow Chinese and American airmen to work together while responding to simulated large-scale humanitarian crises. This direct interaction will increase mutual understanding and respect between the air forces and may encourage China to participate as a responsible actor in the Pacific region. A Chinese decision to employ military aircraft in humanitarian operations would increase the legitimacy of China’s peaceful rise.

    Critics may argue that combined exercises will strengthen China’s military capabilities by increasing the PLAAF’s ability to deploy personnel and equipment rapidly. The PLAAF already possesses airlift capabilities, as demonstrated by recent Sino-Tajik and Sino-Russian military exercises. Instead of providing the Chinese with additional military capabilities, combined relief exercises with the United States would serve as a catalyst for China to play a more active role in assisting its neighbors during humanitarian crises. The increased transparency and understanding that will result from interaction between American and Chinese airmen greatly outweigh the minimal national-security risks of limited combined training with the PLAAF.

    Combined training should be supplemented by high-visibility exchanges such as participation of the US Air Force’s aerial-demonstration teams in Chinese air shows. The Thunderbirds, which performed in Beijing in September 1987, continue to appear in numerous international air shows.55 Prominent events such as air shows and port visits by naval vessels demonstrate to both the Chinese and American publics the enhanced relationship between the two militaries without revealing advanced capabilities. All instances of the US Air Force and the PLAAF’s working together should be publicized in both the United States and China to demonstrate increasing cooperation and friendship between the two countries.

    Military Readiness

    China ostensibly seeks to avoid using offensive military force, but the element of surprise remains a pillar of Chinese doctrine.56 Thus, the US military must prepare itself to respond to any offensive action taken by China. The US Air Force currently forward-deploys B-1, B-2, and B-52 bombers to Andersen AFB in Guam, 1,800 miles southeast of China. These aircraft, along with others in Japan, Korea, and Hawaii, serve as a powerful deterrent to offensive action by the Chinese.

    In addition to deploying advanced aircraft to the Pacific, the United States must maintain a qualitative advantage over Chinese weapons systems and doctrine. Although US Air Force equipment currently is technologically superior to that of the PLAAF, recent modernization of Chinese equipment may lead the PLAAF to become a peer competitor to its US counterpart. Thus, the US Air Force must develop tactics that enable effective employment of its weapons against China in a potential conflict. Chinese military leaders question the effectiveness of current American tactics because, since the end of the Cold War, the United States has lacked a peer competitor to guide the development of tactics. Lt Gen Liu Yazhou of the PLAAF described the US Air Force’s tactical development as “crossing a river by feeling the stones in it,” referring to a phrase coined by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping that describes modernization through cautious experimentation.57 Liu may have a valid point about US Air Force tactics, given that its aggressor training is still largely based on fighting the no-longer-extant Soviet Air Force.58 To ensure continued military superiority in the Pacific, the United States must couple the acquisition of new war-fighting platforms with tactical development that prepares American forces for a potential military conflict with China.
    Conclusion

    The PLAAF’s increasing offensive capabilities, combined with the uncertainty of China’s military intentions, create a potential threat to the United States and its regional allies. After an extended period of stagnation in the development of offensive airpower, the PLAAF has entered a period of rapid modernization that includes the acquisition of platforms such as Su-27 and J-10 fighters, modernized H-6 bombers, aerial-refueling aircraft, and AWACS platforms. It could use these systems to carry out both strategic and tactical missions in a manner this article has referred to as offensive airpower with Chinese characteristics.

    Although China’s offensive capabilities are currently limited to regional operations, the PLAAF likely will attempt to develop global strategic capabilities. The acquisition of platforms such as aerial tankers and the upgraded H-6 bomber suggests that China hopes to increase its long-range offensive capabilities. A key component of such development would involve acquisition of a long-range bomber. Development of such an aircraft may find help in China’s growing aviation industry, which hopes to produce a large commercial jet by 2020.59 Since technology and research from the civilian project could be applied to developing a long-range bomber, production of an indigenous bomber would likely begin in the same time frame as its civilian counterpart. Refining aerial refueling and C2 today may become part of a larger plan to strengthen the support infrastructure required for long-range projection of airpower in the future.

    Even if used only as a strategic deterrent, China’s ability to project airpower globally in the form of long-range bombers capable of striking North America would pose a significant threat to the United States. Increased power-projection capabilities could also enhance China’s influence in geostrategically important regions of the world such as Africa and Latin America, where China has a growing interest. Because future intentions of the Chinese military remain largely unknown, the United States must limit China’s offensive development and encourage development of a responsible Chinese air force by restricting the PLAAF’s access to offensive weapons systems while promoting mutual understanding between the US Air Force and the PLAAF through bilateral engagement. Given China’s potential to change the balance of global airpower, the United States must act decisively to limit and contain China’s offensive-airpower capabilities before the PLAAF can project airpower globally.

    New Developments in the PLA's Operational Doctrine

    In late 1997, China’s military planners raised, for the first time, the issue of “leapfrogging development” for its military modernization. At the time, the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had been largely focused on mechanization—the acquisition of more advanced operational platforms. The concept of joint operations (JO or lianhe zuozhan) was endorsed to make operational sense of these new platforms, or “elite forces and sharp arms.” Such an emphasis, however, widened the technological gap between the PLA, which was still mechanizing, and the more advanced militaries, which by that time, had already completed mechanization and were concentrating on informationization. To narrow the technological gap, a new policy was articulated and adopted by the CMC in late 2002 to guide the PLA’s transformation: “Strive to accomplish the dual-historical task of mechanization and informationization.” The endorsement of a policy of dual-construction connotes that the PLA’s transformation should simultaneously encompass mechanization and informationization. The emphasis, however, would shift from mechanization to informationization, because unlike the industrial age when hardware capabilities determined the outcomes of wars, in the information age, information would be the determinant of future wars. To operationalize the dual-task of mechanization and informationization, PLA strategists have articulated and advanced the new concept of “integrated joint operations” (IJO or yitihua lianhe zuozhan) [1].

    Major Differences between JO and IJO

    Both JO and IJO involve two or more services, and operations are under a single unified command for the purpose of realizing common objectives. Yet, there are major differences between the two, particularly in terms of primary actors and their structures, service boundaries and identities, coordination, levels/space/timing of operations and operational effects.

    The primary actors of JO, for instance, are relatively independent services. Each of these services possesses its own information system that lacks effective lateral linkages and channels for communications and information transmission. As a result, the structure of this system is vertical, narrow and tall, and JO are based on an ad hoc combination of several tall, smokestack-shaped services. The primary actor of IJO, however, is an integrated system comprised of operating units (land, sea, air, space and electronic warfare) and essential operational elements. These elements include 1) ISR (information, surveillance and reconnaissance) that is space, air, sea and land-based and provides battlefield transparency leading to the precision of decisions and operations; 2) C4 (command, control, communications and computer) that connects the highest command and the lowest individual platform, and soldiers and units of both front and rear; 3) K (kill), or digitized and interconnected weapons platforms that constitute a network of superior firepower capable of non-contact, nonlinear and asymmetrical strikes; and 4) integrated logistics. The technical platform that glues operating units and essential elements together is the unified information network that enables both smooth communications and real-time information transmission through data-links. The structure of such a system is flat, broad and short, mainly because it is networked.

    In JO, each service is highly specialized in its primary function. As a result, service boundaries are clear, service identities are strong and the relationship among services is defined by equality. “Physical jointness” is also necessary to enable the primary function of each service. In IJO, however, service boundaries and identities may become blurred because 1) a single service, unit or platform may be capable of multiple functions (such as information, mobility, firepower and protection) in different spatial domains, and 2) different services, units or platforms may have similar functions (such as long-range precision munitions launched from land, naval and air platforms and monitored and adjusted by surveillance and command and control). These reduce the need for the physical massing of services-based forces and arms for joint operations. Therefore, modular units capable of multiple functions for operations in different spatial domains for varied tasks are the basic units for IJO. These units are also capable of being plugged into the information network to achieve interconnectedness, intercommunications and interoperability.

    Coordination in JO is largely preplanned and based on a services-oriented division of labor. The planning process may involve layered levels and complex procedures. The implementation follows the prescribed order of the plan. Because such a coordination plan is not based on good, real-time information but on the fixated role of different services, it is difficult to change and cannot adapt to rapidly changing environments during execution, thus creating windows of vulnerabilities. Coordination in IJO, however, is random, initiative-based, mutually interactive and continuous. Given that all the units are interconnected by the information network, they are able to share accurate, real-time information. This type of coordination is more flexible and precise and can adjust faster to changing circumstances.

    The differences between JO and IJO can also be illustrated in terms of the levels, depth and timing of the operations. In terms of operational levels for JO, due to the lack of precise friend-or-foe identification and precision strikes, a clear line of contact is necessary to differentiate enemy position from one’s own position for air strikes. Once both sides become closely intertwined, the safe distance diminishes and air support becomes difficult for fear of friendly-fire casualties. As a result, air-land operations can only be conducted at campaign and not battle levels. In IJO, however, the issue of enemy identification and precise air strikes has been largely resolved by information technology (IT). As a result, joint operations can be extended to more detailed and narrower domains and be conducted at tactical and battle levels without fear of friendly-fire casualties. This also makes it possible to conduct asymmetrical strikes against the opponent—strikes with technologies that the opponent does not possess and therefore finds difficult to defend against.

    Regarding operational depth, the limited range of strikes in JO, stemming partly from poor weapons guidance and target acquisition, makes it difficult to hit deep strategic target. As a result, JO must follow the sequence of tactical space conquest, campaign space conquest and final occupation of the strategic heartland of the opponent. In IJO, however, the wide application of IT has alleviated the problem of long-range weapons guidance and target identification and acquisition. As a result, it is now possible to strike deep enemy targets of strategic importance, or those that sustain the opponent’s war effort. The destruction of these targets makes it more difficult for the opponent to continue fighting and therefore more likely to yield. As a result, the need for total conquest and final occupation of enemy territory declines. This also makes it possible to replace the older operational style of sequential, linear pushes by concentrated forces and arms with parallel and nonlinear deep strikes from multi-dimensional and dispersed platforms. These strikes are also asymmetrical because they are outside the range of enemy fire and therefore denies the enemy the means to fight back.

    Lastly, in terms of operational timing, the lack of real-time information capabilities and precision air strikes prevent JO from being launched during times of darkness and when the sides become closely entangled. As a result, two windows of vulnerabilities appear: night combat and close combat. In IJO, IT helps to resolve the problems of real-time information and operational capabilities and close-range precision strikes. As a result, real-time battlefield transparency produced and provided by the information network and accessed by service units and air support enables quick and decisive battles, which also lowers the concern of exposing one’s flanks during a high-speed advance. This means that unit coordination is action-based, flexible and adaptable, but not plan-driven because of the fast changing circumstances. The information network also makes it possible for action-based coordination.

    The final difference between JO and IJO concerns operational effects. In JO, because of the lack of IT-based integration, competition largely takes place at the unit level. As a result, operations tend to be more separate, the process slower and dispersed, and the effects more fragmented. Due to the high level of IT-driven integration, however, competition in IJO takes place at the system level. As a result, operations tend to be more focused and purposeful, the pace faster and the effects more systemic and comprehensive. The absence and presence of highly effective, integrative C4KISR is clearly the key variable that accounts for the differences between JO and IJO: serious gaps or windows of vulnerabilities in operational levels, depth and timing due to the lack of integration in the former and seamlessness due to a high level of integration in these three aspects for the latter.

    Driving Factors and Implications

    Three major factors seem to drive the post-2002 change in the PLA’s operational doctrine and strategies. The first has to do with leadership change and power consolidation. Trained as an electrical engineer and having once served as China’s Minister of Electronics Industry, Jiang Zemin, as the new chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), had clearly been more alert to the impact of the information revolution on military affairs than his predecessor Deng Xiaoping and the old guards of the PLA such as Liu Huaqing and Zhang Zhen. It was not until after Deng’s death and the retirements of Liu and Zhang from the CMC in 1997, however, that Jiang felt that his power was secure enough for him to begin to promote this change in Chinese military affairs. The move was also intended to further consolidate his position as the CMC chair and to demonstrate to the PLA generals that he was just as competent in military affairs, if not more so than his predecessor, despite having never served in the PLA. This would help to enhance his personal image in the PLA and further consolidate his position as the CMC chair. While Jiang had largely won the political loyalty of the generals by increasing defense spending and promoting several of them to higher ranks, Jiang did not want the generals to meddle in party and government affairs, which would complicate his image and position as an effective leader. Therefore, Jiang endorsed two new military policies since 1998, the first of which was to order the PLA to divest its business activities. The second was to promote the concept of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) in the PLA, as an effective way to focus the attention of the generals on the narrow military-technical issues rather than on the broader area of civilian politics.

    The second driving factor relates to the development of China’s military research and learning. Military research and learning in China have largely been institutionalized over time, and institutions such as the Academy of Military Science and National Defense University have become the major reservoirs of translated foreign military literature, particularly those from the United States on the RMA. They also serve as the primary agencies for socializing RMA ideas among China’s military and civilian elite. Socialization of RMA ideas is important primarily because it contributes significantly to a general civil-military consensus, the basis for the endorsement of the 2002 policy change by the central leadership.

    The last factor that drives the shift in operational doctrine has to do with promoting the institutional interests of the PLA. PLA planners argue for the change because such a change provides a legitimate reason for the PLA to develop and acquire capital and technology-intensive operational platforms and information grids. The argument justifies the allocation of more money and better technologies to the PLA, clearly serving the financial and technological interests of the PLA. Additionally, years of high economic growth have made it easier to argue for allocating more funding to finance the technological development of the PLA. Finally, the rapid growth of the civilian IT sector in China provides a strong rationale to argue for IT-based development of the PLA by exploiting dual-use technologies, which are largely associated with this sector.

    Major Implications

    The significance of the change is not that it reflects the current reality of the PLA, but that it provides a conceptual roadmap for the future direction of China’s military modernization. Since the PLA is now conceptualized as an interconnected and organic operational system, it is likely that future attention and resources will be concentrated on PLA subsystems that have been traditionally weak and susceptible to impeding the effective formation and release of the systemic effects. These subsystems include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, a unified information network with common technical standards, powerful and precise munitions, more advanced and digitized operational platforms and key technologies, such as the data-link.

    It is important to note, however, that whether the policy of “informationization” can be successfully implemented may depend on whether the PLA continues to enjoy the generous financial support from the central civilian authorities. Moreover, whether the PLA may obtain access to and integrate the more advanced IT also affects the outcome of the policy. Equally important as to whether the new policy will succeed may depend upon the PLA overcoming its highly bureaucratic and secretive, information-averse culture.

    Guarding the West: China’s New Mechanized Infantry Division

    The role of Xinjiang and Tibet as both suppliers and conduits of resources necessary for China’s continued economic growth has resulted in a reevaluation of both regions’ importance. Xinjiang, with its domestic oil fields in the Tarin Basin and its role as a hub for oil and gas pipelines arriving from Central Asia, has become China’s main source of non-seaborne petroleum (China Daily, February 26, 2004). Tibet, on the other hand, possesses large amounts of zircon, chromium, rutile, magnesium and titanium that are needed by China’s heavy industries. Large amounts of cobalt and copper also lie astride the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The strategic value of these regions and their resources has resulted in the increased deployment of China's offensive mechanized forces to these regions in order to prepare for any contingencies that might threaten its interests.

    Coinciding with these deployments has been an evolution in the content of the doctrinal discussions among People’s Liberation Army (PLA) strategists. The 1980s focus on "informationized warfare" has since shifted toward the concepts of "peishu" and "zhichi." Peishu, translated as "attaching troops to a subordinate unit," is the concept of creating independent battle groups within a division or seamlessly augmenting a division with heavier forces. Zhichi or "to support" is the idea that a battlefield logistics unit should be capable of supplying and supporting forces deep inside enemy territory. Such operational doctrine in the PLA is firmly designed for broad sweeping operations as envisaged by the Soviet operational art theorists who had taught the original PLA generals in the 1920s and 30s.

    Adopting a New Structure for the Modern Battlefield

    The PLA has moved toward the creation of an armor-heavy corps akin to the Soviet Operational Maneuver Groups of the 1980s. The cost of such formations are enormous, however, and the PLA has started on a smaller-scale with a lighter force for deployment in Xinjiang and Shenyang that can be augmented with more powerful forces using the building block approach. This permits units within and from outside of the division to be seamlessly added to augment the division’s firepower or logistics capabilities. In recent years, mechanized infantry divisions under the Beijing and Shenyang Military Region (MR) Commands have conducted exercises, developing the use of units as "building blocks" to create battle groups with greatly improved operational logistics. Furthermore, along with units in Xinjiang, these forces were used to develop the PLA’s new high altitude and urban warfare doctrines.

    China’s new mechanized infantry division, developed from these trials, was recently unveiled and has been described as being two generations ahead of current mechanized infantry divisions. Organized and equipped to fight as independent battle groups specifically on mountainous and urban terrain, its equipment is lighter in weight and firepower than the PLA's armored and tank divisions tasked to defend the nation. Its theaters of operation include Xinjiang and Tibet where the division’s lighter vehicles and support weapons can operate in areas where the communications infrastructure is described as underdeveloped at best.

    The structure of the armored and infantry divisions follow the standard PLA triangular organization, consisting of three infantry or armored platoons to a company, three companies to a battalion, three battalions to a brigade and three brigades to a division. The division is comprised of three mechanized infantry brigades, one tank brigade, one artillery brigade, one air defense brigade, one helicopter wing and a logistics unit directly subordinate to the corps. The division headquarters is composed of an engineer battalion, an electronic warfare battalion, a chemical defense battalion, the division headquarters itself (which is company sized), air defense units and a guard company for headquarters protection. The division’s artillery, intelligence and aviation structure are taken from the U.S. Army’s experimental Division 86 .

    The major difference in the new structure as opposed to previous configurations is that there are now four Type 86 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) in each platoon instead of three. This provides the platoon command with its own vehicle, allowing, for the first time, elements such as a forward observer or engineering teams to be attached to the platoon. This enables the platoon to be the lowest tactical unit whereas before, this was at the company level. There are a total of 351 Type 86 IFVs in each division that are supported by an artillery brigade of 72 122mm self-propelled guns and a tank battalion of 99 main battle tanks. Type 89 armored command vehicles are liberally provided throughout the division down to the company level to provide command and control capabilities.

    The Type 86 IFV, a copy of the Russian BMP-1, has been modified so that the existing 73mm low velocity gun turret is now replaced with the new Chinese one-man "universal turret" containing a 30mm chain gun. The 30mm turret increases the vehicle’s anti-armor capability by 2.5 times and significantly increases its survivability, with the removal of over 35kg of easily ignitable high explosives. A standard BMP-1, when penetrated by a shaped charge, invariably blew apart at the weld seams. The new 30mm turret also has greater depression and elevation to enable individual windows and mountainsides to be engaged. No new armor has been added, however, meaning that the Type 86 is still vulnerable to high-powered 7.62mm rounds on its sides as well as anti-armor rockets .

    The other combat tracked vehicles in the division, other than the tanks, are based on the indigenous Type 85/89 armored fighting vehicles. The support company of the battalion consists of one 100mm mortar company with 10 vehicles, with one mortar per vehicle and a single fire control vehicle; an automatic grenade launcher (AGL) platoon with two vehicles, each equipped with two AGLs; one anti-tank platoon of two vehicles sharing three anti-tank guided missile systems. There are 18 Model 85 series armored vehicles in each brigade providing 54 anti-tank guided missile systems in the division. There is an air defense platoon of three vehicles with four missiles per vehicle for a total of twelve. A division has 27 air defense vehicles and has 108 man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) available for air defense at any time. They come under the operational control of the air defense brigade.

    In line with the lighter vehicles, the divisional air defense brigade is composed of one battalion of 24 towed 57mm anti-aircraft guns and one battalion of 18 towed twin 37mm anti-aircraft guns. An air defense platoon of six Model 95 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and one light surface-to-air missile launcher are attached to the artillery brigade. A new addition to the division is a helicopter wing with one squadron of six Z-9G attack helicopters and one transport squadron of six Mi-17 helicopters. These are lighter units that are likely to be augmented for operations. Logistics are provided by corps assets that are attached to the battle groups as required.

    The vehicles and weapons in the new mechanized division are lighter than those in other PLA mechanized units, reducing their logistical footprint and providing tactical mobility, allowing for more roads and bridges to be used during operations. Lighter units are also more easily refueled and resupplied. On the few good roads in the rural regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, the ability to operate for extended periods is an invaluable advantage. Presently, only wheeled armored fighting vehicles operate in Tibet; tracked IFVs armed with 30mm automatic cannons and heavier support weapons would greatly assist these forces in the event of a widespread insurgency or an attack by Indian forces.

    Heavier forces that might be utilized to augment the new division have also been developed. Support units drawn from the Beijing MR Command, including the Sixth Armored Division, have a structure similar to that of the mechanized infantry division. Its company structure is the same as the tank brigade in the new mechanized infantry division. There are two tanks at the battalion headquarters whereas in the mechanized infantry battalion tank brigade there are none. There are therefore 35 Type 88B or Type 99 main battle tanks per battalion and 105 main battle tanks per brigade.

    Supporting artillery brigades are equipped with 72 152mm Model 83 self-propelled guns and the new PLZ45 155mm self -propelled gun that is being introduced into PLA service. The latter is capable of firing the Chinese built version of the Russian KBP laser guided round. The air defense brigade has a battalion of 24 57mm towed anti-aircraft guns and one mobile surface-to-air missile launcher. Anti-armor capability can be augmented by an anti-tank regiment, which is more of a small battalion in size, and contains six PTZ89 120mm self-propelled guns and 18 Red Arrow 8 anti-tank guided missile launchers. These are light enough to supplement the mechanized division in isolated areas.

    The PLA’s new mechanized infantry division is undoubtedly well suited for operations in Xinjiang and Tibet, given the lighter footprint of the vehicles as well as the simpler logistics requirements as opposed to those of heavier armored units. Moreover, given its building block capabilities, the PLA would be able to tailor such a force based upon the needs of the operations. In contingencies that require heavier forces, such as a coup in Astana that threatens to disrupt energy supplies or the ascendancy of a regional government friendly to the Uyghurs, China would be able to quickly enter into the respective region and secure its critical strategic interests.

    Thursday 10 July 2008

    China Adds Air Defense To Destroyers' Resume

    How better to meet the needs of an ideal air defense ship than to put the land-based S-300 system that has protected Peking and Moscow on a large guided missile destroyer? China is sending the two newest, largest 6,000-ton 051C guided missile destroyers (DDGs)-hulls 115 and 116-to be flagships for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) North Fleet. The 05 IC, which began construction prior to the later 052A and 052B ships, will be a new fleet command ship with air defense and coordination capabilities.
    Although China's oncemighty North Fleet still lags the East and South Fleets with their 052 Luyangs and 956 Sovremennyis, its two new 6,000-ton air defense ships add significant capability and pose a serious challenge to other fleets that operate in the area. The traditional Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) warfighting lead over the North Fleet - the JMSDF 2nd Escort Flotilla alone is more powerful than the entire PLAN North Fleet- has been threatened by recent long-range ship-to-ship missiles (SSMs) from newer PLAN platforms. The new 05 IC air defense capability affects both the North Fleet and the rest of China's blue-water force.

    In 1989 when the PLAN wanted to send a Luda destroyer on a five-month South China Sea cruise, the North Fleet flagship was sent from Dalian to the (Nansha) Spratley Islands. That illustrates that Luda 110 was best manned and prepared to carry out that arduous, difficult cruise, as it was selected over any of the other 10 East or South Fleet Ludas.

    When the first 4,000-ton new generation LmAm DDG 1 12 was completed in 1994, it replaced Luda 1 10 as the North Fleet flagship. The impressive Luhu, with the first VDS in the design and not a backfit, was a credible antisubmarine warfare (ASW) warship and served as flagship for North Fleet commander Vice Adm. Zhang Zhannan, PLAN, until relieved by the newest 05 IC DDG 115 in late 2006. The planned North Fleet structure will base the First Detachment in Qingdao and the Tenth Detachment in Lushun. Each will have a 05 IC air defense ship.

    After relying on 3, 000- ton Luda destroyers for 30 years, in 1985 China began building a series of one or two increasingly modern DDGs. The 4,000-ton Luhu evolved into the 5,000-ton Luyang series. Except for the first Luhu 112, none of these new-generation DDGs was based in the North Fleet, and only six old Ludas and four old 05 3 H series frigates were based there.

    Two of the North Fleet Luda destroyers, Kaifeng DDG 109 and Dalian DDG 110, were upgraded with French short-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and DD 105 was the Luda II trial ship with a helicopter deck and hangar in the 1990s.

    All of the new-generation Luhai and Luyang 052B and 052C and Sovremmenyi DDGs are in the East and South Fleets because of East Fleet Taiwan and South China Sea priorities. The 052B SAN- 12 and Sovremmenyi SAN-7 both used F-band Front Dome SAM datalinks. The Russian MR-600 Mineral-ME radar datalink system had been on other PLAN warships prior to 05 IC. Russia exported 10 Mineral-ME systems to China.

    The 05 IC is largest PLAN DDG, and the most capable new systems are the Russian SAN-6 vertical launch system (VLS) and S-300 air defense sensor and missile systems. In the 1970s, the PLAN unsuccessfully attempted to install a Soviet SA-2 launcher on two Jiangdong frigates. Next, imported French short range (13-kilometer/7-mile range) Crotale launchers were put on some frigates and four old Luda destroyers. The imported Sovremmenyi SAN-7 had a 25-kilometer/14-mile range, and China's 052B DDG had a SAN- 12 medium range (35-kilometer/19-mile range) system. The 052C had an indigenous VLS that launched SAN HH-9 missiles with a 100-kilometer/ 54-mile range.

    The 05IC is a less advanced design than the 052C with its Aegis-like PAR (SIGNAL Magazine, July 2005, page 59) and cannot match the JMSDF Aegis Kongou class. But the 05 IC does fill the need for large fleet air defense ships. The two 051Cs are in response to increased tension created by Chinese incursions into Japanese economic waters and oil field and island rights contention (SIGNAL Magazine, November 2006, page 33). The JMSDF consists of four Escort Flotillas. Escort Flotilla 2 consists of the flagship Aegis DDG 173 Kongou, DDG 170, DDH144, and five conventional destroyers (DDs). Because neither of the two PLAN 052C Aegis DDGs is based in the North, the Kongou and its DDG, along with DD consorts with years of training and operations, are stronger than the PLAN North Fleet, even with the 05IC.

    An obvious question is why China would develop its newest and largest DDG lacking the desirable Aegis-like radar, stealthy architecture and combined diesel and gas (CODAG) propulsion featured on prior operational new construction DDGs. All previous Dalian Shipyard-built warships had a high radar cross-section shape and probably steam propulsion. Could it be a limitation in Dalian shipyard capabilities? A more likely explanation could be the development time lines of die 051 series. The 051 series warships were started years before the next-generation 052 series warships. China faced complexity and procurement problems for obtaining and integrating the highest Russian naval technologies for 05 IC along with extensive negotiations to obtain the high-technology Russian S-300F AD radar. After export approval would have come the task of converting die radar and displays over to the challenging shipboard space, shock and power environment.
    The Luyang class 052B was launched in 2002, and 052C was launched in 2003. The 05 IB Luhai was launched in 1997, but the 05 IC was not launched until 2006. Since Luhus were hull number 112 and 113, and 051C is hull 115 and 116, it seems that a third Luhu 1 14 was cancelled. The 05 IC design probably preceded the 052 series by several years.

    The evolution of these ships' technology followed a long and tortuous path. The 9,400-ton Soviet navy Slava cruiser built in 1983 had the SAN-6b Rif-M VLS with a huge 35-ton 3R41 Volna engagement radar named Top Dome. The Soviet-designated SAN-6 on the Slava was a navalized S-300 Fort-M. The Top Dome radar was not sold to China, probably because of its cost and bulk with the Rif-M naval system, and it most likely was too large and heavy for the 4,000-ton 051C hull.
    he Volna SAM illumination guidance (IG) radar on 05 IC is the 30N6E1, which is mounted forward of the aft helicopter hangar. This is the export designation of the S-300 land air defense radar for the Russian SA- 10 Grumble. China received 20 batteries of long-range land-based S-300P from 1997 to 2006 to protect high-value targets such as Peking and Shanghai. China contracted with Russia for two sets of S-300F Rif naval SAM systems from NPO Altair Design Bureau in 2002, and these ended up on the 051C ships. The 30N6E detect and track system is mounted aft. The ship's air defense protective umbrella extends out 150 kilometers (95 miles).

    The long-range air early warning radar on Slava was the Top Pair three dimensional (3-D) radar. It consisted of Top Sail and Big Net 850-megahertz radar antennas mounted back-to-back facing opposite directions. The PLAN 05 IC uses the Fregat M2EM 3-D surveillance radar for this function. Fregat is a 300-kilometer (190-mile) range ?-band Russian radar.

    Fore and aft 100-millimeter fully automatic main twin gun mounts fire at 90 rounds per minute (RPM). The Type 344 fire-control radar has replaced the earlier 343G radar for the stealthy PJ33A twin-barrel 100-millimeter main battery. The 051C carries only eight 120-kilometer (75-mile) range YJ-83 surface-to-surface missiles compared to 16 on the 052A, 052B and 052C Luyang class ships. Two Type 730 close-in weapon systems with a firing rate of 4600 to 5800 RPM are controlled by Rice Bowl fire-control radar directors.

    AKD3000 Ku frequency satellite communications radomes with Dong Zhong Dong naval antenna have been observed. Standard Chinese navigation radomes that are Global Navigation Satellite Network (GLONASS) and global positioning system (GPS) compatible are mounted near the engineering stack. Drawing from electronic warfare imported from the Dutch Signaal Company, the RAPIDS electronics support measures (ESM) suite now is produced as the Chinese Type 445, and the RAMSES electronic countermeasure (ECM) system has evolved into the Chinese built Type 445. Modern export designations are ESM 923 and ECM 981. This is not as capable as the SLQ-32 looking ESM on the 052 Luyang DDGs. Earlier one-way datalinks are replaced by the new two-way Chinese HN900 tactical datalink on the foremast yardarm. A Russian Mineral-ME3 I-band datalink in the Front Dome radome facilitates joint operations with Russian warships by having parallel Chinese and Russian datalinks.
    The antisubmarine suite appears to be a French DUBV-23 medium-frequency bow sonar, a pair of Type 87 six-barrel automatic reloading ASW mortars on the bow and two over-the-side torpedo launchers. The only wild card would be if the VLS cells included the ASROC copy CY-I long range ASW rocket, as the U.S. MK 41 VLS does. This is unlikely because an air defense ship would want to be able to carry all of the SAMs possible in its inventory.Standard weapon system reference sources state mat the Dalian-built Luhai 05 IB has imported gas turbine engines such as the Luhu and Luyang 052 series DDGs that were built in Shanghai. The 05 IC would be the only modem PLAN DDG that does not have CODAG propulsion. The frigates and even larger ships all have relied on diesels for propulsion. The traditional steam plant has not been used on a PLAN destroyer warship since the dated Luda class. Kanwa Defense Review offers a dissenting view diat Luhai has steam propulsion such as me other Dalian-built 051 Luda and 05 IC warships. Steam propulsion is less expensive to procure, and the extremely high price paid for die anti-SSM and Russian SAN-6 VLS and S-300 area defense complex may have driven China to pursue savings in the propulsion plant to control ship cost

    Chinese navy has developed a new stealthy trimaran fast attack craft



    The Chinese navy has developed a new stealthy trimaran fast attack craft (FAC) design. It will probably grow into a larger more versatile platform, similar to the U.S. Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program. The use of advanced trimaran hull shows that the Chinese are able to incorporate advanced European and Australian fast ferry technology a bit faster than the U.S., as American programs to use these ships and this hull technology are only in the design and experiment stage. While the U.S. did use some Australian designed fast ferries in the 2003 Iraq invasion, the U.S. does not have ships coming off the lines, like the Chinese do. On one level, this new FAC is a Chinese program to replace old conventional hull designs, and to exceed the capabilities of Taiwan's new stealthy FAC design. The trimaran hull configuration confers greater high speed capability in heavy weather, while providing a large deck space for multiple uses.

    This first ship appears to be focused on the FAC mission, and appears to be designed for the installation of anti-ship missile launchers amidship (in the middle of the ship). But we can safely expect that the Chinese will soon design and build larger models that can carry UAVs and small boats for landing commandoes, as the U.S. may soon be doing. The Chinese will probably already have its version of the digital connectivity which lies at the heart of the LCS program. So here we have an area of military technical competition in which the Chinese are demonstrating creativity and a potential ability to match the U.S. just as it is embarking on a new direction in naval warship and combat tactics modernization.

    The new Chinese FAC design also demonstrates that the real naval threat from China is not aircraft carriers and large destroyers bought from Russia. No, the real threat is quiet diesel submarines and small ships like this new FAC. The real potential of this new design would be its use in co-ordination with their diesel subs and, possibly, theater ballistic missiles with precision guidance. A combination like that could enable the Chinese to deny the U.S. Navy the ability to safely move in some vital areas, such as the waters surrounding Taiwan.