Monday, 26 January, 2009

China's Military and the New World Order

China's Military and the New World Order
A Review of The People's Liberation Army's White Paper
In December of 2007 the People's Liberation Army issued its status report White Paper, summarizing its view of the global configuration of forces, and projecting its response.

The operating assumptions of this key document are:

(1) while the international situation is stable, there are factors present of instability, uncertainty, and insecurity which are increasing, at the same time that hegemonism and unilateralism are gaining;

(2) the tendency towards multi-polarization is deepening;

(3) new changes are altering the existing balance of power;

(4) while the developing world is increasing global democratization with its increasing voice, the gap between the North and the South is ever widening;

(5) the World Wide Revolution in Military Affairs requires both new technology and new doctrines;

(6) localized wars of a geopolitical, ethnic and religious nature are a constant threat;

(7) any attempt by Taiwan to separate will be crushed; and

(8) non-traditional threats are on the increase.

To properly position the White Paper in perspective, it is essential to examine the 1999 study by two Senior PLA Colonels entitled Unrestricted Warfare. The latter was characterized by the U.S. as the doctrine of a technologically weaker China as it confronts superior U.S. power.

A careful examination of this study reveals a thought through evaluation of both U.S. and Chinese strengths and weaknesses in technology, strategy and doctrine. There is little doubt that the wake up call for the PLA was triggered by the Gulf War - Desert Storm.

China's response, it is argued is multiple, ranging from altering force levels and increasing its educational/technical levels; developing a seamless strategy for a transition from a peacetime to a wartime economy; seeking a leapfrog strategy in military technology; not falling into the trap of seeking superiority in all areas of military technology; and, constructing and reinforcing an alliance structure of both a multi-lateral institutional nature as well as on the bilateral level.

In December of 2004 the Chinese People's Liberation Army issued its White Paper on China's National Defense in 2004 [White Paper Defense 2004]. The Paper situates the defense posture in the context of China's drive for modernization, emphasizing that as the country is relying mainly on its own efforts, it therefore [emphasis added] poses no threat to anyone. The two pillars are an independent foreign policy and a defensive military one, which will neither be expansionist nor hegemonic.

The strategic assumption is that while the general international environment is stable, there is an increase of uncertainty, and instability. [ibid: (01): 1]

Two tendencies are occurring simultaneously economic globalization and multipolarization, with a changing balance of power, displaying collaboration and competition. [ibid: 8]

While the voice of the developing world is having a greater impact on international relations thereby contributing to a greater democratization, the gap between the North and the South is ever widening. [ibid] The Iraq war has had far reaching influence on international and regional security, reflecting a hegemonic and unilateralist tendency, seeking strategic territory, resources and dominance. [Ibid]

The role of the military is also playing a greater role in the configuration of national security via the Worldwide Revolution in Military Affairs [RMA] as military establishments strive to shift from mechanization to informalization, which entails new military doctrines in conformity with high-tech weaponry and equipment. Here to the gap between militaries is growing. [Ibid]

Local wars have emerged as a consequence of the interaction of geopolitical, and ethnic conflicts intermingling with political and economic contradictions. This has made the fight against the root causes of terrorism ever more difficult. [ibid]

While the dominant trend among Asian nations is consultation through the mechanisms of ASEAN, the Asian Regional Forum and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the security situation is being complicated by the U.S. reinforcing its regional military alliances and accelerating deployment of its missile defense system, while Japan is preparing to overhaul its Constitution and has significantly increased its foreign military activity. There remain uncertain factors in the resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, while threats from terrorism, separatism and extremism remain grave, as do smuggling, piracy, drug trafficking and money laundering. [ibid: 2]

The Taiwan Issue

The biggest immediate threat to Chinese sovereignty, peace and stability remains the Taiwan administration's desire to employ Constitutional reform as a threat to the status quo.

The US is contributing to the destabilization of the region by increasing its qualitative and quantitative arms sales to Taiwan.

Should Taiwan attempt "an incident" of Taiwan independence, it will be crushed "at any cost". It is for this reason that the first basic goal of China's national security doctrine is to stop separation and promote reunification". [ibid: 2-3; (02): 1] The goals remain the defense of national sovereignty and maritime rights, the promotion of overall national strength, improvement of operational capabilities under conditions of informationalization, crack down on all criminal activities and the pursuit of an independent foreign policy. [ibid (02): 1]

The strategic doctrine is elaborated as shifting from a Manpower intensive to a technology intensive force, or RMA with Chinese characteristics. [ibid {03): 1] While this is understood as a gradual process whereby mechanization and semi-mechanization are pulled by informationalization in a leapfrog fashion. All of this is to be done within the concept of "present day People's War". [ibid: (02) 2] "Meanwhile, it [China] adheres to the people's war concept and develops the strategies and tactics of people's war." This is understood as a seamless transition from peacetime to a war footing, should that become necessary. This is operationalized through an intensive program of dual-technology development. [ibid: (07) 1]

Military exchanges have been undertaken which are "non aligned, non-confrontational, and not directed against any third party". Joint military exercises have taken place in the non-traditional security fields to address threats in those fields. [ibid: (02) 2]

Force levels have been reduced since September of 2003 by 1.5 million, with a further projected reduction by the end of 2005 by an additional 200,000, bringing the size down to 2.3 million troops. The officer corps is to be reduced by 15%, with new officers rising from the ranks of NCOs, with some functions being passed to a corps of civilian employees, presumably with high technical skills. While the Army is to be streamlined, the Air-Force, Navy and Second Artillery Force [read missile units] are to be strengthened, the goal being to gain command of airspace, sea lanes, with a strong amphibious forces, and the capacity for nuclear counter-strike, if attacked. The military education system is to be refocused, with emphasis on the acquisition of pre-assignment skills. [ibid: (03) 1]

China's military expenditure was up from 2002-2004 by roughly 20% to 211.701 billion Yuan. With 2003 as the base year the comparison of China's military budget with other Countries was as follows: 5.69% of the U.S., 56.78% of Japan, 37.07% of the U.K., and 75.94% of France. [ibid: (04) 1]

The increase primarily went to: (1) salaries, allowances and pensions; (2) social insurance subsidies; (3) cost of reorganization; (4) increased cost of military related education; (5) increased cost of new weaponry. [ibid]

Compulsory conscription eligibility in peacetime is from 18 years of age until 22. Deferments exist for sole family wage earners, and full time students, while Reserve units contain those from 18 to 35 years of age. Demobilized soldiers are entitled to a life long pension, government job placement assignments, however, should they find their own work, even with government assistance, they are exempt from income tax on a life long basis. [ibid: (05) 3]

In addition to its military mission the PLA maintains a civil assistance program. In the past decade 40,000 "points of contact" were established to alleviate poverty, with 3.7 million being elevated out of that status, and 2,800 primary and secondary schools constructed in poor areas. In addition the PLA has participated in infra-structure projects, technology transfer, and disaster relief, with the Military Academy of Medical Sciences being the first to isolate the SARS pathogen and develop a rapid reagent. [ibid: (08) 2-4]

In the realm of international security cooperation, the strategic and partnership relationship with Russia is prominent, followed by consultations and working groups with the U.S. and consultations and dialogs with the France, the U.K., South Africa, Australia, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Poland and New Zealand, among others. Within the region, consultations were organized with Pakistan, Thailand, Japan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, while a tripartite cooperation agreement was signed between China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. [ibid: (09) 1-2] Regional institutions are playing an increasing role, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the ASEAN Regional Forum, with its emphasis on preventative diplomacy and incrementalism. {ibid: 3]

In the "Non-Traditional Security Field" emphasis has been placed on joint manoeuvres with the SCO members, Pakistan, India, France, the U.K. and Australia. The range of issues subsumed under this category range from counter terrorism to drug smuggling, piracy and search and rescue. [ibid]

Over the last decade and one-half China has participated in 13 U.N. peace keeping missions including, Cambodia, Congo (Kinshasa), Liberia, East Timor, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Haiti, Western Sahara, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Burundi, and Ivory Coast. Ibid: Appendix 6] Military relations have been established with 150 countries, with 100 Chinese Military Attaches abroad and 85 Military Attaches stationed in China. Foreign observers have recently witnessed a number of Chinese military exercise, Northern Sword-0308U, Dragon-204, Iron Fist 2004 and a joint Chinese-British search and rescue operation. In addition, China has sent 1,000 military science students to 20 countries and received 1,245 from 91 countries. [ibid: (09) 5]

While China has maintained a policy opposed to the development and delivery of WMD, in the realm of conventional weapons it adheres to the policy of exporting weapons which help recipient states enhance their capacity for legitimate self-defense. China remains the only nuclear state to unconditionally guarantee its policy of non use or threat to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states and nuclear free zones. Ibid: (10) 1]

As a final observation, China reasserts its opposition to all nuclear weapons and demands their destruction, in addition to opposing any program of weaponization of space. [ibid: 10) 2]

Analysis of the document

Prior to attempting to derive meaning it may be essential to situate the White Paper in the context of the broader rethinking of Chinese military strategy and tactics which was launched in early 1999, with the publication of Unrestricted Warfare by Senior Colonels Qiao Lang and Wang Xiansui. [Qiang and Wang, 1999] The American Editors of the publication, place their emphasis on two issues;

(1) a tactical guide for the 3rd World who are militarily inferior to the U.S.; and

(2) that in the new era warfare is unrestricted, there are no rules and nothing is forbidden. [ibid: 1]

A full examination of the document substantially qualifies the boldness of this last proposition. The authors argue that any surpassing of limits must be done within the restrictions of opportunity and means. [ibid: 119] The more important guiding principle, however, is that the new principle of war is that it employs all means, not only military, [ibid: 4] to include stock market manipulation, computer virus invasion, fluctuation of exchange rates via rumour, [ibid:16] manipulation of the credit rating, media control, [ibid: 32-33] ecological warfare, psychological warfare, smuggling [of counterfeit] and drugs, cultural warfare, fear inducement and International law warfare. [ibid: 31-35, 18-19] In other words, the struggle for victory will take place on the battlefield beyond the battlefield, with victory being measured by control rather than kill rate. [ibid: 117, 18] This is not meant to imply that the traditional military arsenal has lost it meaning, although military threats are no longer the major factor in national security, [ibid:75] but rather that individual weapons are no longer important, and have been replaced by systems and systems integration, [ibid: 110, 7] comprising 100+ weapons. [Ibid: 10] All of this requires a fundamental shift in military doctrine, including building weapons to fit the fight and the use of multigenerational weapons, [ibid: 13] constructing a force able to engage asymmetrical warfare, [ibid: 22] reduce force levels while increasing troop quality in high and mid-level technology, [ibid: 27] abolish traditional organizations, replacing them with integrated battle groups and centralized command with equality of the armed forces, complete unification resulting in total battle depth, with concealment, speed and accuracy. [Ibid: 63,66, 31]

From the perspective of the two Colonels, it is clear that "Desert Storm" not only changed warfare itself, but intensely shook the Chinese military. [Ibid: 3, 51] Much of the White Paper is a response to that assessment. The Colonels, however, also see flaws in the U.S. system. The Americans have become slaves to technology, and will find it very difficult to defeat an adversary who employs unconventional and low-tech warfare, [ibid: 15, 13] still lags in the development of military thinking in conformity with military technology, [ibid: 65] has failed to reconcile post 1998 training doctrine of attack, defense, stabilization and support, with the new reality of total dimensional warfare, [ibid: 67] disproportionately neglects its unconventional warfare budget in comparison with its formal military budget [the former 1/25th of the latter] [ibid: 83], the Americans tend to go for unlimited objectives, [ibid: 138] and possibly most of all that the US wants victory but is unwilling to pay the price in casualties. [Ibid: 60]

The authors remind the readers that while one country is in the technological lead, they are not alone, [ibid: 12] and to attempt to maintain permanent weapons superiority will ultimately lead to national bankruptcy. To avoid this requires a different approach. This approach is summarized in eight principles: [Ibid: 134. 137-141]

(1) Omnidirectionality - Eliminating the distinction between what is and what is not the battlefield.

(2) Synchrony - Replace phasing of military action with simultaneity.

(3) Limited Objectives - Objectives should always be smaller than the measure employed in achieving them.

(4) Unlimited Measures - Everything available is to be employed to achieve limited goals.

(5) Asymmetry - Find the soft spot in an adversary, and hit it unexpectedly.

(6) Minimal Consumption - Be exceedingly thrifty in th expenditure of forces. (7) Multidimensional Coordination - Coordination of the various armed forces in different spheres of activity. (8) Adjustment & Control of the Entire Process - Establish a feedback and revision system.

In some ways we can use this document as a check list base line in judging is implementability.

Having sketched out the new formulation, and the background set by the Colonels, let us draw attention to its meaning. The most significant issue is the so called informationalization of military doctrine. The centrality of this issue derives from the First Iraq War of 1991 when t.v. images were transmitted from the nose cone of attacking missiles, which themselves were laser guided, seen dropping down the smoke stack of an Iraqi factory. These images were portrayed as the cutting edge precision of the new U.S. weapons systems. It was later revealed that their accuracy was not quite as overwhelming as their general portrayal, nonetheless, it achieved its intended effect, which was to "spook" the rest of the world into awe of U.S. high-tech military capacity.

The unevenness of accuracy was deduced to be a mere technical problem which in time would be overcome. Anticipating some of this, Iraqi sites were "hardened" and were in turn met with so called "bunker busters" with or without depleted uranium [DU] ordnance as a facilitator of penetration. DU was employed since 1973, and employed in Kosovo and Sarajevo, but the Iraq campaign was its deadliest use, with 940,000 bombs, 4,000 artillery shells, and 75 Tons of bullets tipped with D.U. in addition to Pulsed Energy Projectiles (PEPs). [Sweet] New targeting technology was further enhanced by the variety of satellite systems, from the military version of the GPS to reconnaissance photography, to Beyond Visual Range Weapons Systems (BVR), over the horizon early warning radar, all providing real time tactical intelligence when integrated into a systems approach. A further punctuation was made when the Reagan "star wars" initiative was resurrected, directed against so called "rogue" states and their likely limited nuclear weapon and delivery systems. While the debate continues to rage as to its efficacy, it would seem reasonably clear that even if it was not fully reliable, even partial reliability would be sufficient to dissuade a potential attacker.

This is clearly a recognition that it is not likely to be fully deployed, but to a sufficient degree to thwart a "rogue state" attack with a very limited attack and retaliatory arsenal. Japan has agreed to participate in funding research, and has declared its willingness to deploy the system only to defend Japan [a rather strange part of their new military doctrine] adds to the high-tech equation. Willingness by other states to subscribe to the "star wars" systems, consequently becomes a political issue for the United States and a new acid test for its allies; a variation of the theme of the "coalition of the willing".

It is also unlikely that the Chinese failed to notice that in late November 2004 the United States Congress approved a $9 million budget for the "Reliable Replacement Warhead Program", aimed at producing a wide variety of new warhead designs, including new nuclear "bunker busters". Should this initiative mature, it would likely result in the US seeking amendment of the test ban treaty, with budget estimates, by some, into the trillions of dollars. [Broad] An additional part if the equation is the U.S. position of reserving the right under conditions of its choosing to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike. [Japan Times] These U.S. decisions have resulted in a Chinese shift to the reinforcement of its mobile counter-strike force. This will take the form of expanding the submarine fleet, with the associated engine quieting and other stealth technology, plus a highly mobile ground based accurate launching system capable of absorbing a first strike and retaliating. A recent report [Halloran] revealed that targeting accuracy of Chinese short range missiles has improved to 20-30 meters from target, and that a Second Artillery Brigade drill moved its battery 563 km and was operational in two days. Both land and air launched cruise missiles as well have been added to the arsenal. In addition to the eight "Kilo-Class" diesel-electric submarines purchased from Russia, China is constructing the domestically designed "Song-Class" for near shore operations, and several nuclear powered attack submarines for longer range. Recent reports also describe acquisition of airborne long rage targeting capacity, optical satellites and maritime unmanned vehicles [Ridley]. With an eye to the Taiwan equation, 100 regular and 4 tank landing craft are under construction. U.S., Taiwanese analysts have brought the credible threat level window down from 1010-2015, to 2006 - 2012. Taiwan clearly is seen as the most immanent threat to China, with U.S. supplied weaponry exacerbating regional insecurity.

Given the stated objective of, if necessary, shifting seamlessly from civil to military production, it is clear that China's strategy for maximizing its acquisition of dual use technology is in no way surprising. The logo for this is the aero-space industry, where the line between a civilian and military booster rocket, while alleged, is factually non-existent. The provision by the U.S. of dual use technology to China, but attempting simultaneously to limit the duality of that use is rather silly. The most recent example of this was the U.S. criticism of the China Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation for diverting to military use sophisticated machine tools purchased from McDonnell Douglas of the U.S. Why then is it provided? While some may argue that this is simply the pressure of capitalist enterprises to increase sales and profits, it is my contention that when dual use is made available it provides the U.S. with a technological benchmark in assessing China's technology level. It may also be clear that any military applicable technology so provided has already been evaluated for its weaknesses, with counter measures developed or well along on the drawing boards. As an aside, a few years ago when I teased a senior Chinese official for accepting an Israeli designed device for suppressing submarine engine noise on the grounds that the U.S. clearly had developed counter measures to that technology, the response was, "We of course understand that, but it will push along our own design and counter measures." I assume the same holds true for the "Python Air-to-Air Missile" currently mounted on Chinese fighter planes, although the public spin on this is that the sale was made prior to notification by Israeli to the United States. On the other hand when there are not effective countermeasures for proposed technology transfer, it will be blocked. We are here reminded of the U.S. successful pressure in 2000 on the Israeli's to annul a signed agreement with China for the purchase of an updated "Phalcon" airborne radar system valued at $250 million.

Technology acquisition is the key to the policy of "leap froging" to the next stage of informationalized warfare. Self evidently there will have to a reformulation of strategic doctrine, which for purposes of continuity has been labelled modern "People's War". Accompanying this is a force reduction at career end, accompanied by substantial post demobilization benefits, and a significant elevation of required entry level skills. These, together with the dramatic increase in bi-lateral military exchanges, is clearly designed to augment the technical level, and familiarize the PLA with military science techniques of other countries. Increasing participation in UN Peace Keeping, is designed to "show the flag", hone skills in projecting forces, al-be-they limited, and improving exposure to the latest crowd control techniques, following upon the disproportionate use of force during the Tiananmen affair.

Turning to the issue of arms sales, it is noteworthy that on January 3rd of 2005, the U.S. State Department placed a one page notice in the Federal Register [Federal Register: 133] that eight Chinese Firms, including China Great Wall Industry Corporation, China North Industry Corporation, and China Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation, and one North Korean firm, the Paeksan Associated Corporation, are to be penalized by not being permitted to do business with the U. S. Government nor obtain export licenses allowing them to purchase controlled technologies from any U.S. company. [New York Times, January 18, 2005] The Federal Register Notice claims that the nine companies have exported material to Iran which has the "potential to make a material contribution to the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or cruise or ballistic missile systems." It is alleged that these items include high performance metals and components which would extend the range of Iranian missiles. It is clear from the White Paper that the principle guiding China's export arms policy is to assist a recipient country in "legitimate self-defense". The issue then obviously turns on the definition of "legitimate self-defense". For the U.S. anything which strengthens the Iranian military as a charter member of the "Axis of Evil" is illegitimate, while for the Iranians, and by extension the Chinese, those items supplied are indeed part of a legitimate self defense profile. While a cynic might describe this as part of the overall package of the recently signed $100 billion, ten year petroleum deal between China and Iran for the development of the Yadavaran field, it must be noted that relations between Beijing and Teheran with a brief interregnum in 1979 almost effortlessly bridged the transition between the Shah's administration and that of Imam Khomeni. The U.S. view of China's policy is exclusively driven by its desire to both militarily weaken, and economically isolate the Iranian government, a game China has rejected.

If there is an arena which cross cuts the dominant themes, it is in the sphere of "Non Traditional" security, which comprises piracy, "counter-terrorism" [left for everyone to define the meaning of terrorist], search and rescue, and smuggling. It is this area alone which is likely to generate the greatest level of international cooperation.

At the political level, the White Paper makes it very clear that the current strategic doctrine is ant-hegemonic and multi-polar in orientation, while not being directed against a specific adversary. Much of the document belies the last of these points, as it is noted that Russia is the main strategic ally, as it appears first in any listing in the document, while the U.S. is identified as seeking territory and resources, while reinforcing its military alliances in the region, and its activities have made the fight against terrorism more difficult by its geo-political and ethnic policies.

In summary, the White Paper is tilting in a new direction by adding capacity to rhetoric. The priority objective is to develop sufficiently overwhelming air-missile-naval superiority to discourage the Taiwan authorities from altering the status quo, and just enough to lead the U.S. to back off supporting Taiwan should hostilities break out. A major supplementary goal is to construct relationships which consolidate as far as possible a multi-lateral voice in opposition to US unilateralism, and its global military base structure of 120. This is not the construction of a new alliance system, but rather the emergence of states with primary parallel policies. At the moment these would include as core participants Russia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization states, Iran, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, as well as Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia and the DPR of Korea, with the distant hope of India. At the secondary parallel level of course we note recent petroleum agreements with Angola, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Oman, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Thailand and Yemen [Ridley, op cit], and the new Pakistani port of Gwadar, [Ramachandran] while at a third parallel level France and Germany. If these are viewed as two concentric circles, we are likely to see in the future a third level of parallelism.

China's hollow military

China's hollow military
How good is China's military, and how much should the United States care? There are ample grounds for addressing these questions. In 1995, and then again in 1996, the People's Republic of China (PRC) splashed missiles off the Taiwanese coast. It also reinforced military facilities on the Spratly Islands, which China claims although they are hundreds of miles from its shores. More recently, the PRC has undertaken a steady build-up of short-range missiles opposite Taiwan - hardly, it seems, a benign development, particularly when considered alongside President Jiang Zemin's presumed goal of reuniting Taiwan with the Chinese mainland during his tenure in office. And now these questions have been given a new urgency by the espionage allegations contained in the Cox report.
The PRC, then, has demonstrated a number of intentions and aims that warrant close American attention. The ongoing dispute over Taiwan, for example, is ripe for troublesome misperception. Chinese ambitions toward the Spratly Islands do not converge with U.S. interests or, for that matter, with those of nearby countries. The PRC continues to criticize harshly America's global alliance system and its assertive foreign policy. More generally, Beijing appears poised to translate its growing economic power into greater military strength and geopolitical weight, as indeed a Chinese defense white paper acknowledged last year.
Despite all of the above, we believe that the recent clamor over China's strategic ambitions is greatly overblown. Most of the Chinese aims that run counter to U.S. interests are in fact not global or ideological but territorial in nature, and confined primarily to the islands and waterways to China's south and southeast. In addition, Beijing has recently taken a number of steps to cooperate with the United States on security matters: signing the Chemical Weapons Convention and nuclear test ban treaty, terminating its assistance to nuclear facilities in Pakistan, pledging to cut off ballistic missile transfers to Pakistan as well as nuclear and anti-ship cruise missile trade with Iran, and quietly restraining the North Koreans. Moreover, China is plagued by enormous socioeconomic problems, whose solution requires maintaining good relations with the world's major economic powers - and with the United States in particular.That said, our main focus in this article is less on the PRC'S intentions, always subject to change in any event, than on its military capabilities. An enormous gap separates China'smilitary capabilities from its aspirations.
The PRC's armed forces are not very good, and not getting better very fast. Whatever China's concerns and intentions, its capacity to act upon them in ways inimical to U.S. interests is severely limited, and will remain so for many years.To begin with, consider some basic facts: China remains a developing country, with per capital income levels - even after twenty years' growth of historic proportions - only about one-tenth those of the West. China's living standards trail even those of American adversaries such as Iran, Yugoslavia and pre-Desert Storm Iraq. It faces enormous challenges in its agricultural, environmental and banking sectors, which its arteriosclerotic central government is ill-equipped
to address. Looking at these facts, the new commander-in-chief of U.S. Pacific forces, Admiral Dennis Blair, has declared that China will not represent a serious strategic threat to the United States for at
least twenty years.(1) In almost every respect, China's armed forces lag behind the U.S. military by at least a couple of decades; in many areas they even compare poorly with the "hollow force" that the United States fielded in the immediate wake of the war in Vietnam.(2) And on matters ranging from the professionalism of its officer corps and troop morale to training and logistics, China's military is in even worse shape than that.

An Empty Threat
China wields by far the world's largest military, with 2.8 million soldiers, sailors and airmen - twice the American number. (The United States is number two; the only other countries with more than a million active duty troops are China's neighbors - Russia, India and North Korea.) Yet China's military was a full million people stronger in the 1980s - before PRC leaders recognized that its size actually worked against their aim of developing a modern force. Raw size is deceptive. Two million of China's soldiers serve in the ground forces, where their primary responsibilities are to ensure domestic order and protect borders - not to project power. Then, too, the Pentagon estimates that only about 20 percent of those ground forces are even equipped to move about within China. A still smaller number possess the trucks, repair facilities, construction and engineering units, and other mobile assets needed to project power abroad.(3)In China's ever expanding defense budget, which has grown by more than 50 percent in real terms over the course of the 1990s and is to increase 15 percent this year, there is also less than meets the eye. Much of this year's increase represents compensation to the Chinese armed forces
for divesting themselves of their many business operations, which sapped China's military readiness. Even with these increases, China's announced defense budget will still only total about $12 billion, less than 5 percent of the U.S. figure.
Of course, that $12 billion figure does not capture all Chinese military spending. It does not include spending on foreign arms purchases, nuclear weapons development, most of China's military research and local militias. Nor does it account for subsidies to China's ailing defense industries, or administrative costs such as demobilization and pensions. Taking these additions into account, and adjusting for purchasing-power parity effects - admittedly a difficult and imprecise business - China's actual defense expenditures are generally estimated at somewhere between $35 billion and $65 billion a year.(4) But these are still modest numbers - especially for such a huge military. Even at the higher estimates, China spends less than 25 percent of what the United States spends on defense, while supporting a force twice as large.This basic disparity will not change anytime soon. First, as noted, China faces enormous economic challenges that limit its ability to fund a military expansion. Second, even if China begins to close the gap with the United States, it starts from a position of marked inferiority.
The United States owns a "capital stock" of modern military equipment valued at close to $1 trillion; China's corresponding figure is well under $100 billion. As such, one can see why a recent study concluded that the Chinese military would have to increase spending on hardware by $22-39 billion annually for ten years to wield a force capable of significant power
projection.(5) Further, this estimate does not take into account the additional investments that would be required to man, train, deploy and sustain such a modern force. China is in no position even to attempt this scale of effort.
Weapons and Training
As congressman Barney Frank has sardonically observed, China did recently acquire its first aircraft carrier. But it then immediately anchored it in Macao and transformed it into a recreation center. So much for the next great hegemon's efforts to launch a blue-water fleet by the turn of the century.More detailed assessments of Chinese military capability and readiness tell a similar story. Consider China's combat air force. Though roughly equaling the aggregate air power numbers of the
United States, China's air forces include only a few dozen so-called "fourth generation" combat aircraft and only a couple hundred "third generation" aircraft. The rest rely on 1960s or even older technology. By contrast, all of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines' 3,000-plus fighters are fourth generation models. China's projected fourth generation arsenal in the year 2005 is expected to include perhaps 150 fighters - by which point the United States will have purchased 300 "fifth generation" aircraft.(6)Two additional factors render an even bleaker assessment: supporting equipment and overall
military readiness. First, as a recent Pentagon report observed, the PRC's air forces possess minimal aerial refueling capabilities, poor surveillance aircraft and a behind-schedule program to acquire airborne warning and control planes.(7) Second, and as another Pentagon report describes, the electronic warfare capabilities of the PRC air force are "extremely limited by western standards."(8) Programs are underway in China to improve certain specialized capabilities, such as the use of space, long-range precision strike, and other "strategic dimensions of warfare."(9) But the PRC continues to have trouble modernizing its forces. What passes in the literature as "capabilities" are often better understood as long-term aspirations.
As for the caliber of China's military manpower, it is hard to be more damning than the Pentagon's most recent report on PRC military capabilities. It acknowledges that Chinese troops are generally patriotic, fit and good at basic infantry fighting skills, but then goes on to say:
Ground force leadership, training in combined operations, and morale are poor. The PLA is still aparty army with nepotism and political/family connections continuing to predominate in officer appointment and advancement. The soldiers, for the most part, are semi-literate rural peasants; there is no professional NCO [non-commissioned officer] corps, per se. Military service, with its low remuneration and family disruption, is increasingly seen as a poor alternative to work in the
private sector.(10)
China's military training is elsewhere assessed as getting better, though still weak, particularly as concerns joint service operations.With respect to the hardware on which those troops rely, the Defense Intelligence Agency expects
that, by 2010 or so, perhaps 10 percent of China's overall military will have acquired "late Cold War equivalent" heavy equipment and become reasonably proficient in employing it. Even that will leave them twenty years behind the American curve - and the remaining 90 percent of the force more obsolescent yet.
Projecting Power
So much for an assessment of China's overall military readiness. Some would argue that this type of analysis misses the point in any case. Many American analysts contend that while the United States should not fret too much about China's traditional military power, it should recognize that Beijing, having watched the Gulf War on CNN, might utilize "asymmetric warfare" to threaten American interests in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea. By employing advanced cruise missiles, sea mines, sub-marines, imaging satellites, anti-satellite weapons, computer viruses and other specialized weaponry, China would wage "local war under high-tech conditions" in a manner that exploits American vulnerabilities.
There is a kernel of truth in this concern - militaries, after all, routinely seek to exploit the weaknesses of their adversaries. But it is only a kernel. To defeat Taiwan, for instance, China would need to land enough troops on the island to overcome Taiwan's quarter million-strong ground forces (plus some fraction of its 1.5 million man reserve force). But currently China cannot even move a quarter million soldiers overland into Mongolia or Vietnam. What is more, this type of
power projection is precisely the type of operation that future military technology may rendereven more difficult.
The sum total of China's amphibious transport capacity (about 70 ships) can move 10,000 to 15,000 troops. Its airborne transport may carry 6000 more.(11) True, China could utilize fishing vessels and cargo ships, and tap its civilian air fleet, for an operation against Taiwan. But all of these vessels, military and civilian, would be fiercely attacked before they reached the island. Making matters worse for China is the fact that there are only a few suitable beachheads on
Taiwan where PRC forces could land.
Even if only half of Taiwan's fleet of nearly 500 combat aircraft survived an initial Chinese assault with missiles and fighters, the remaining aircraft could wreak enormous damage on an amphibious armada. The surviving planes would carry enough weapons that in theory they could sink almost the entire amphibious armada in a single sortie. Although Taiwan's air force may not yet have large numbers of anti-ship missiles like the U.S. Harpoon in its arsenal, it could inflict a fair amount of damage with its own Hsiung Feng 2 anti-ship weapons(12) - and would probably be provided with weapons like the Harpoon fairly quickly. Taiwan also possesses highly effective air-to-air missiles, which would pose a serious threat to Chinese troop transport aircraft.
Things get even worse from the Chinese standpoint. To quote the Pentagon again, "China's C4I [command, control, communications, computers and intelligence] infrastructure cannot support large scale, joint force projection operations at any significant distance from the country's borders." Granted, Taiwan is only about one hundred kilometers from the mainland (though many PRC aircraft would have to operate from several hundred kilometers' distance, given constraints on the capacity of individual airfields). But even if the distances involved are not great, the operation would be enormously complex, as China would need to destroy Taiwan's air force, sink its fleet, deceive its ground forces about the armada's primary objective - and do all of these things after Taiwan was fully aware that hostilities were imminent, since a major and largely
visible build-up of Chinese forces would already have taken place. Nor could China rule out the participation of American forces. Even if the United States did not put its combat assets in harm's way, it could provide Taiwan all-weather day-night reconnaissance and targeting data from spy satellites and aircraft.
Bizarrely, after making many of these arguments in its own report, and further concluding that Beijing is making few efforts to improve its lift capacity, the Pentagon's 1999 report on the PRC-Taiwan military balance concludes that, absent third-party intervention, China could probably carry out a successful amphibious assault by 2005. The basis for reaching this conclusion, however, is either unstated or unpersuasive.
China could plausibly blockade Taiwan - at least well enough to cut commerce severely and extract a steep economic price from Taipei. Here, the same technical realities and trends working against a Chinese amphibious invasion of Taiwan might actually work in the PRC's favor. Surface vessels in confined waters are already quite vulnerable. If anything, they are becoming more so - and China has in recent years vastly improved the quality of its anti-ship cruise missiles.(13)
China has a large navy, too, one that boasts some 60 submarines, 50 large surface combatants and hundreds of smaller ships. Of the submarines, three are high-quality Kilo-class vessels purchased from Russia; another five are indigenously produced Han nuclear-powered attack submarines. They do not carry anti-ship missiles at present, but may soon. China's stock of torpedoes and mines, too, is well suited for blockade-style operations. But recall, this is a navy for which a
three-ship crossing of the Pacific for its first ever visit to a mainland U.S. port - San Diego in March 1997 - proved a huge undertaking. Even so, as Taiwan's navy has only 4 submarines, 36 major surface combatants and about 100 smaller surface combat ships, it might well find itself outmatched by the PRC navy. Or at least that is the conclusion of the Pentagon.
In any cross-strait blockade or naval conflict, Taiwan's main advantage would be air cover, especially if it reacted to a PRC blockade by shutting down its ports that face China and routing ships to its less vulnerable eastern harbors. China, however, could pursue Taiwanese-flagged vessels beyond the range of Taiwan's aircover. Even if the PRC navy suffered huge losses, it
could effectively discourage merchant shipping and shut down much of Taiwan's export economy.
These options would not be available to China if the United States intervened. Deploying two carriers several hundred miles east of Taiwan, the United States could, with the assistance of the Taiwanese air force, clear the seas of Chinese warships. U.S. airpower, to use a well-coined phrase, can "do" open water much better than it can ferret Serbian tanks and troops out of Kosovo's woods. American anti-submarine warfare capabilities would be challenged only against China's best submarines, of which the PRC only has a handful. At most a few merchant or naval vessels would be lost on the U.S./Taiwan side before the Chinese threat was eliminated.(14)On the matter of asymmetric Chinese approaches to defeating the U.S. military during a conflict over Taiwan, it is especially important to distinguish China's aspirations from its capabilities. It is true that Chinese writers intend to utilize information warfare and other concepts derived from what American analysts often term the revolution in military affairs (RMA). This approach to countering America's edge in traditional military capabilities undoubtedly has particular allure in a nation that gave the world Sun Tzu. But the fact that Chinese military writers can blend ancient maxims with concepts borrowed from the U.S. RMA debate does not mean they will be able to exploit its principles and technology during a conflict in the Straits. And even if China succeeds in developing one type of asymmetric weapon (e.g., a laser anti-satellite weapon), we will retain other systems that will not be threatened (e.g., radar satellites and surveillance aircraft).What, finally, are we to make of China's recent missile build-up along the Taiwan Straits?
Reportedly, the PRC had deployed 30 to 50 short-range missiles on the Straits by 1996, has about 200 deployed there today, and may triple this package within five years. From their current positions, the M-9 and M-11 missiles, both of which are nuclear-capable, can reach Taiwan.(15) But neither possesses sufficient accuracy to strike ports, airfields or ships to great effect. Indeed, they would generally miss their targets by several football fields and almost always by the length of at least a single field.(16) Granted, if Beijing unleashed a salvo of hundreds of missiles, it might register a few hits. But with the development of more effective passive defenses in Taiwan, most airfields and ports could absorb a few explosions and either continue functioning or be quickly repaired. Commercial sea traffic might disappear for a while, to be sure - but if China exhausted the bulk of its missile inventory to sink a grand total of two or three cargo vessels, would that really be such an intimidating use of force? It would say more about Chinese weakness than anything else.
Today, both China and Taiwan are modernizing their forces. But Taiwan will surely do so much faster, especially given its high-tech economy, its willingness to purchase weapons abroad, and a modernization agenda that emphasizes capabilities such as precision strike, maritime reconnaissance and integrated air defense. China's armed forces talk a good high-tech game, but
possess few of the requisite assets and are redressing their weaknesses at a very slow pace
As for the Spratly Islands, where China has been constructing facilities of late, Beijing seems mostly interested in the economic potential of the surrounding waters and seabeds. Fortunately for it, the countries nearest to the Spratlys - the Philippines and Vietnam - possess little military wherewithal to challenge its claim to the islands. Hence, China's decision to claim sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, while hardly justifiable in law, is not entirely surprising.Still, given China's inability to project substantial power very far beyond its borders, the PRC will be able to assert and maintain control over the Spratlys now and in the foreseeable future only if the United States allows it to do so. Washington may in fact decide on such a course, even if diplomatic skirmishes over the islands continue to pit China against formal U.S. allies
like the Philippines - provided, that is, that China does not attempt to control the adjacent sea lanes. But the Spratlys could prove a costly prize for Beijing. The modest economic benefits accruing would probably be more than balanced by strong political resentment from neighboring states. In that event, the United States might be granted land bases in countries like the Philippines, from which it could patrol and expand its own influence in the region.
The Scandals
For all of the fear and suspicion aroused by illicit transfers of U.S. military technology, they have not fundamentally shifted the strategic balance between China, Taiwan and the United States. While their impact will not be trivial, neither will it be catastrophic.Consider first the question of nuclear espionage. A native Taiwanese scientist, Wen Ho Lee,
allegedly provided China with information on the Trident II missile warhead, known as the W-88; he may have also leaked computer codes mimicking the behavior of that and other warheads. The United States developed this warhead in the 1980s at Los Alamos, where Lee worked until he was fired earlier this year. The warhead has a yield of roughly 350 kilotons, or about 20 times that of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs - not unusually large for U.S. thermonuclear warheads, but still one of the country's most efficient nuclear devices. Warheads of that power formerly weighed well over 1,000 pounds; the W-88 warhead reportedly weighs hundreds.(17) With this powerful lightweight warhead, China could place several warheads on missiles that currently carry only one.That would not change China's ability to threaten the continental United States, which it has
been able to do for almost two decades. Beijing at present has about 20 ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. In addition, it has a nuclear-armed submarine, though the vessel is barely seaworthy and would need to approach within about 1,000 miles of the U.S. coast to launch its weapons successfully. China also possesses some 300 nuclear warheads it could use against U.S. or allied forces in Asia.While the W-88 transfer will not alter the basic facts of the U.S.-China nuclear balance, it would aid any Chinese effort to counter an American ballistic missile defense system, and could provide the PRC with greater targeting options in the event of a nuclear war. That fact might in turn make Beijing believe it had greater leverage in a major crisis with the United States (though if China really thought in these terms, it probably would have already
expanded its ICBM force). Moreover, China, which joined the global test ban in 1996, might never have been able to develop its own lightweight warhead without the W-88 technology.
Still, we cannot be sure of the impact. China appears to have tested a warhead similar to the W-88 design only once.(18) The United States typically required at least six to ten tests to obtain confidence in a nuclear warhead.(19) True, if China obtained an already proven design it might require less. But nuclear warheads are highly complex devices. For example, the manner in which a warhead ages can affect its performance. Also, warheads that have been chilled or heated or violently jolted during trajectory may not detonate.(20) All the weapons blueprints and computer codes in the world cannot substitute for a properly tested and robustly built warhead. China might not wish to devote large amounts of resources to the construction of a warhead that it may not fully understand.
The Hughes/Loral scandal may be the most significant of the recent cases. As part of their work in launching satellites on Chinese carrier vehicles, these companies may have helped China correct a problem in its guidance systems for their strategic rockets. Any technology transfer that increases the accuracy and reliability of China's rockets and missiles will surely aid its ICBM force and its efforts to place military satellites in space. Here too, though, we must be cautious in our conclusions. After all, we still do not know exactly what information was transferred; the former U.S. commander of Pacific forces, Admiral Joseph Prueher, for one, appears not to believe the data was of great import. Even if China's launch capabilities do improve slightly as a result of the transfer, its fledgling satellite program is rudimentary and
will likely remain so for years to come.
The Cox Committee has raised serious concerns about improvements in Chinese military capability. Still, enormous uncertainties persist, for acquisitions do not translate automatically into new capabilities. That at least was the conclusion of the CIA's damage assessment, which determined that "the aggressive Chinese collection effort" has not yet resulted in the modernization of its deployed strategic forces. The reality of America's enormous strategic nuclear advantage - U.S, nuclear warheads outnumber China's by a ratio of about 15 to 1 - will remain a powerful deterrent in the face of any foreseeable Chinese strategic rocket modernization.China's military is simply not very good. The majority of its members serve in the ground forces, but so lack in transport and mobile logistics assets that they are more aptly described as
internal security personnel. Their training ranges from spotty to poor. Moreover, the armed forces remain plagued by poor pay, nepotism and party favoritism, and attract few of China's brightest citizens.The PRC's power projection capabilities, too, are constrained by huge weaknesses - especially in areas such as aerial refueling, electronic warfare, command and control, and amphibious and air assault assets. China owns considerably less top-level military equipment than medium military powers like Japan and Britain; it owns even less than smaller powers such as Italy, South Korea or the Netherlands. Nor has it embarked on a concerted effort to purchase sophisticated new weapons. Though some analysts estimate China's military budget to be as high as $65 billion a year in purchasing power terms, the resources it devotes to acquiring modern weaponry are akin to those of countries spending $10-20 billion a year on defense.
The numerous defects of its military establishment notwithstanding, China is a rising power that could one day significantly challenge the United States and its allies in East Asia. But that day will not come anytime soon; it will be at least twenty years before China can pose such a threat. Why it would wish to do so, even with a strong military, remains an open question.

Friday, 23 January, 2009

PLA Navy Modernization: Preparing for “Informatized” War at Sea

In recent years, senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders and high-ranking military officers have repeatedly emphasized the importance of naval modernization. Most prominently, CCP General Secretary, President and Central Military Commission (CMC) Chairman Hu Jintao in a December 2006 speech to People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) officers underscored the need “to build a powerful People’s navy that can adapt to its historical mission during a new century and a new period” (International Herald Tribune, December 26, 2006). Similarly, PLAN Commander Wu Shengli and Political Commissar Hu Yanlin promoted the importance of naval modernization in an article that appeared in the authoritative CCP journal Seeking Truth [1]. This growing sense of urgency about naval modernization appears to be a function of increasing concern about maritime security issues, particularly Taiwan, the protection of maritime resources and energy security. These missions drive the PLAN’s requirements, not only for new platforms, but also for command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities.

Enhancing the PLAN’s information technology and communications capabilities is thus seen as critical to the success of Chinese naval modernization. According to one recent article in Modern Navy, a PLAN magazine, “[t]he informatization of shipboard weapons and equipment is the core of maritime joint combat … the Chinese Navy should vigorously build data links for maritime military actions and fundamentally change the way to carry out tasks in the future,” ultimately creating a “networked fleet” [2]. Reaching this goal hinges on narrowing the gap between the PLAN and the world’s most advanced navies through the development, acquisition and integration of advanced information technology.

PLAN “Informatization”

The PLAN is undergoing an unprecedented transformation from what was essentially a coastal defense force to a more offensively oriented service capable of executing a variety of regional missions. As part of this impressive modernization program, a number of new surface ships and submarines have entered service in recent years. China’s new surface ships include Russian-built Sovremennyy guided missile destroyers (DDGs), indigenously developed Luzhou and Luyang I and II DDGs as well as Jiangkai I and II guided missile frigates (FFGs), in addition to Houbei-class PTG wave piercing catamarans. Among the PLAN’s new submarines are Kilo-class diesels acquired from Russia and the domestically developed Shang nuclear-powered and Song and Yuan conventional attack submarines. With the addition of these new platforms, the PLAN is improving its surface warfare, undersea warfare and air defense capabilities. The PLAN also appears poised to become an increasingly important part of China’s nuclear deterrence posture with the addition of several Jin-class SSBNs, which will be armed with JL-2 SLBMs. According to China’s 2006 Defense White Paper, the PLAN “aims at gradual extension of the strategic depth for offshore defensive operations and enhancing its capabilities in integrated maritime operations and nuclear counterattacks” [3].

China’s leaders perceive their nation to be confronting a strategic environment in which “[m]ilitary competition based on informatization is intensifying” [4]. This view both highlights the growing importance of information technology in military modernization and places a heavy premium on striving for information dominance in any future conflict. Indeed, many Chinese analysts write about the role of information in a style reminiscent of U.S. publications on “network centric warfare.” For example, according to one recent article by three PLAN researchers, “[i]n the information age, information has become one of the main sources of combat power” [5].

PLAN C4ISR Systems

For many years, the entire PLA, including the PLAN, faced major shortcomings in its C4ISR capabilities, but Beijing has embarked on a massive effort to modernize, upgrade and expand its communications infrastructure. One of the key results of this communications upgrade, which has been bolstered by the rapid development of China’s civilian information technology and telecommunications industries, was the construction of a national fiber-optic communications network that provides the PLA with much greater communications capacity, reliability and security. According to one source, “in the coastal military commands, a gigantic optic-cable communication network has been set up, which guarantees the optic-cable communication among the headquarters of each military command. Meanwhile, satellite communication has been applied more widely, which ensures smooth communication between the top commanding organ and the headquarters at different levels of the military commands” [6]. Chinese research institutes have also “developed a VSAT [Very Small Aperture Terminal] communication system consisting of mobile vehicle-borne components” as well as new microwave and troposcatter communication systems [7]. Additionally, China is upgrading some of its traditional HV, VHF and UHF communication systems [8]. Improving military computer networks and making them available to more and more units also has been a priority for the PLA as it expands its communications networks, another key “informatization” development that has major implications for the PLAN. Indeed, recent reports indicate that all PLAN units at the division level and above are now connected to military computer networks, and that current plans focus on extending coverage to lower-level units [9].

Beijing has likewise intensified its efforts to improve its space-based C4ISR capabilities, which are particularly crucial for naval informatization. Navigation and positioning has been another major area of emphasis with implications for military modernization and the informatization of the PLAN. In addition to using GPS and GLONASS and working with the EU on the Galileo navigation satellite system, China has deployed the indigenous built Beidou Navigation System-1 comprised of four satellites, and plans to develop a larger system called Compass (or Beidou-2) comprised of thirty-five satellites. Chinese developments in small satellites and maritime observation satellites are also of particular interest from the perspective of naval informatization. In addition, the PLAN is improving the capabilities of its ocean survey and reconnaissance ships, which are responsible for a number of tasks, including surveying, gathering meteorological and hydrographic information, laying and repairing undersea cables, and intelligence collection.

Trends in C4ISR Research and Development and Naval Training

One major area of emphasis appears to be the development of C4ISR capabilities required to implement an access denial strategy. According to the 2007 Department of Defense report on Chinese military capabilities, “[t]o prevent deployment of naval forces into western Pacific waters, PLA planners are focused on targeting surface ships at long ranges … One area of apparent investment emphasis involves a combination of medium-range ballistic missiles, C4ISR for geo-location of targets, and onboard guidance systems for terminal homing to strike surface ships on the high seas or their onshore support infrastructure” [10]. China is already developing the capability to target U.S. ships with ballistic missiles, such as the DF-21 MRBM [11]. “China is equipping theater ballistic missiles with maneuvering reentry vehicles (MaRVs) with radar or IR seekers to provide the accuracy necessary to attack a ship at sea,” according to the Office of Naval Intelligence [12]. If supplied with accurate real-time target data from China’s growing constellation of ISR satellites or other sources, terminal seekers and maneuvering warheads could threaten targets such as airbases and aircraft carriers [13].

Chinese researchers also emphasize the importance of linking platforms together into an integrated whole, suggesting that this will continue to be a major focus of defense R&D programs. This is considered particularly important for the PLAN. According to an article by Wang Hangyu, a researcher at the PLA’s Naval Engineering University, “[a] platform-centric navy cannot bring into full play the potentials of its sensors and weapons,” but “effective networks formed with multiple platforms and multiple sensors can enable the resources of military strength to grow steadily” and “resource sharing among various platforms and coordinated allocation of the resources of all operational forces can enable the currently available resources of military strength to be fully utilized” [14]. According to an article by Li Qiang, a researcher affiliated with the PLA’s Academy of Equipment Command & Technology, “[i]n order to effectively fuse all C4ISR system elements and achieve a seamless connection from sensors to shooters it is necessary to solve the problems of data integration” [15].

Unmanned reconnaissance systems appear to be another area of emphasis in Chinese C4ISR-related research. Indeed, recent technical articles indicate that Chinese scientists and engineers are conducting research on various types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) [16]. Chinese researchers are also working on unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). For example, one recent article by PLAN researchers addresses the sonar capabilities of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which could have applications in ISR and a number of other maritime warfare mission areas [17].

The PLAN’s focus on technological developments notwithstanding, Chinese planners realize that rapid improvements in hardware will not be fully effective without corresponding increases in the ability of military personnel to operate them under realistic combat conditions. In keeping with recent PLA-wide guidance from the General Staff Department that stresses making training more realistic and challenging, the PLAN has emphasized making training approximate the actual battlefield environment as much as possible. Official sources indicate that the PLAN is striving to make training more rigorous [18].

Chinese reports frequently highlight the importance of conducting training under “complex electromagnetic conditions,” which necessitates such activities as jamming, electronic attacks, reconnaissance and electronic deception [19]. The PLAN is also conducting opposing forces training featuring “Blue Force” detachments playing the role of enemy units and making extensive use of modeling and simulation to enhance training. Another area of emphasis for the PLAN is joint training. According to one recent article in the PLAN’s official newspaper, “[a]s profound changes take place in the form of war, future warfare will be integrated joint operations under informatized conditions. Training is the rehearsal for war, and what kind of a war we fight determines what kind of training we should conduct” [20]. Articles in the same official newspaper highlight the PLAN’s recent involvement in “informatized” multi-service training activities, some of which have focused specifically on enhancing joint communications capabilities [21].

Conclusion: How Good is Good Enough?

Enhancing China’s naval capabilities is a key component of China’s military transformation, as reflected by recent leadership statements and the development of several new classes of surface ships and submarines. Moreover, informatization is clearly a central aspect of PLAN modernization and naval C4ISR modernization will have important implications in areas such as joint operations and command and control. Chinese C4ISR modernization has become a top priority and PLAN informatization appears to have made some impressive progress in recent years. It remains unclear, however, how close the Chinese actually are to achieving the so-called “informatized force.” The PRC’s 2006 Defense White Paper established a goal of being able to fight and win informatized wars by the mid-21st century. This reflects a perceived gap between the Chinese armed forces and the world’s most advanced militaries, which Chinese writers often suggest will take decades to overcome. At the same time, however, it also raises the issue of distinguishing between the “ideal” capability the Chinese navy seeks to establish in the long term and that which might simply prove “good enough” in the short term. Indeed, even a relatively simple system of deconfliction by time or geographic area might be sufficient in a Taiwan scenario. This suggests that the PLAN might achieve an employable capability with surprising rapidity, especially if it pursues one that falls short of the standards set by U.S. proponents of “network centric warfare,” but that is nonetheless capable of contributing to the achievement of China’s operational and strategic objectives.

Monday, 19 January, 2009


Chinese naval sonar evolves from foreign influences

Chinese naval sonar evolves from foreign influences
The types of sonars equipping Chinese warships are a barometer of Chinese naval technology and antisubmarine capability. The evolution of Chinese sonar from old Soviet equipment to series production, to indigenous designs, to French examples and finally to modern Russian vessels with sonar suites parallels Chinese naval progress. Just as these systems have grown from secondhand gear to indigenous designs supplemented by up-to-date foreign technologies, so has the Chinese navy transitioned to a force designed to serve the nation's maritime needs.
The initial phase of the Chinese sonar program began with Soviet searchlight sonars provided from 1954 to 1975. The searchlight sonars were high frequency (HF) units that transmitted and received echoes in one direction. The first sonar-equipped submarines acquired from the Soviet Union were four World War II vintage S-class submarines with the MARS-12 passive sonar delivered in 1954. Two years later, components for the first of 21 Soviet Whiskey-class diesel submarines included the TAMIR SLS active sonar. The Chinese assembled these kits in their own shipyards with Soviet assistance. China established a manufacturing plant for these sonars and produced more than 100, and they likely were exact copies of the Soviet examples.

The passive arrays could have been slightly improved MARS 24 sonars, indicating 24 instead of 12 transducer elements. This would provide much improved bearing accuracy and reduced beam side lobes. Chinese shipyards went into a large production run of the submarines, designating them as Type 031. Chinese efforts to obtain more modern Soviet submarines and sonars were thwarted by the cooling of relations in 1960 when the Soviet Union began to pull back its military technicians and engineers. China did manage to obtain plans and drawings of the Romeo-class diesel submarine. This submarine had TAMIR SL active sonar and a FENIKS passive array. China's shipyards produced 64 Romeo copies, designated Type 033. Unlike the Type 031, the Type 033 bows did have a unique fez-shaped topside transducer, which indicated that the newer sonars had been obtained. Two 033 submarines reportedly were upgraded with French DUUX-5 sonars in 1983.

Similar efforts were directed at surface vessels. In 1954, the Soviet Union provided components for four Riga-class destroyer escorts that were built in a Chinese shipyard in 1958. These ships included PEGAS-2 hull-- mounted HF searchlight sonars. Starting in 1964, Chinese shipyards produced five more copies, with no Soviet parts supplied, called Jiangnan class. The Soviet Union provided two classes of warships in 1955 that included sonar equipment. These included 10 Kronstadt patrol craft equipped with TAMIR-10 HF searchlight sonars. Based on these examples, Chinese shipyards produced 14 more copies, including the sonars. The other class comprised four T-43 ocean minesweepers equipped with HF TAMIR-11 searchlight sonars. China's Wuchang and Donglang shipyards produced 37 more T-43 sonars, designated Type 053HT by China.

China began developing indigenous sonars around 1962 when all Soviet assistance and shipments ceased, and it produced them roughly from 1975 until 1987. Because the sonar transducer dome or fairing is the only part of sonar that is visible externally, observers can detect two levels of sonar design technology. The earliest, the transducer on the keel of a ship, was initially a hoist-lower device that transmitted and listened in only one bearing-the searchlight sonar. Newer technology transmits sound around 360 degrees, and echoes are displayed on a plan position indicator cathode ray tube (CRT). This is the conventional scanning sonar. A bow dome device cannot be a hoist-lower unit because of tight space restrictions, and so it is assumed to be scanning technology. Small bow domes indicate that HF scanning equipment is present, and larger more bulbous domes likely contain medium frequency (MF) or even low frequency (LF) sonar technology, if very large.

The first mention of a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) designation for a sonar was the EH-5 on the Jianghu frigate in 1975. It reportedly also was on 25 of the Jianghu frigates in variants I through IV from 1975 until 1986. Photographs show HF bow dome sonar on Jiangwei frigates. The Jiangnan V frigate had a sonar designated an EH-SA, which would seem to be an improved version. The next Chinese sonar designation was not evident until 1991 when the SO-7H was installed on the Jiangwei I (FF 539 to 542) and Jiangwei II (FF 521 to 524) frigates. Photographs of Jiangwei ships in drydock clearly show a medium-size bow dome, and models or drawings on display support this observation. This transducer location indicates very strongly that these Chinese sonars are the more modern scanning type.

Because it seems that the Soviets supplied only old searchlight sonars, the question is how did China advance into a next-generation scanning design? A crucial issue is whether China received an example of a first-generation Soviet scanning sonar or if China designed a scanning sonar from scratch. Examples of new naval equipment designed in China without foreign help usually involved many years of work before that equipment became operational, and then many times, the technology was not placed in production, indicating poor results. One notable example is the HQ-61 surface-to-air missile for two Jiangdong frigates that took 10 years to become operational. Both ships were decommissioned after a few years, and their successor ships were Jianghu frigates.
Two major events in China greatly retarded or stopped the normal design process of newer sonar-unique technology such as audio and video scanners. The Great Leap Forward from 1955 to 1959 basically moved industry to a local backyard-furnace level, where quality control standards were virtually nonexistent. Next, the 1965 Cultural Revolution featured Red-Book-waving fanatics who jailed and beat nonproletarian engineers and scientists as deviationists. These activities continued until the 1970s. This atmosphere in China impeded any significant sonar improvements for the crucial period from 1955 to 1970.
These facts contribute to a strong case for the conclusion that China received a foreign example on which to base its scanning sonar. The firstgeneration Soviet HF scanning sonar, called Titan MG-312, was developed in 1957 and installed on Petya and Kashin vessels in 1960. This sonar also is referred to by observers as one of several Herkules sonars, also known by the NATO designation Wolf Paw. The Soviet Union continued providing equipment to China until 1962, and it is certain that China had listed scanning sonar as a priority request. Because it is not considered an offensive system, the Soviet Union could have provided at least one set, possibly with drawings. This would have allowed China several years to reach full production for bow dome Jianghu frigates by the early 1980s.

China had several facilities that could contribute to the design and production of an indigenous sonar. The first leading-edge development challenge for Chinese naval construction was the Han nuclear attack submarine (SSN). Prior to this, China copied Soviet submarines, destroyer escorts and patrol craft. The largest ship was the Luda, which appeared to be very similar to the Soviet Tallinn class. The Han had sonars installed in 1970, but systems were not certified until 1975. The active sonar was designated SQZ-3 and the passive version was SQC-1. The Shanghai 22nd Radio Plant reportedly produces the SQC-1, but too little time seems to have elapsed to develop the expertise to design and build a sonar more capable than the crude TAMIRs known to be in production.

China has had several highly respected oceanographic universities. The first was established in Qingdao in 1952, and in 1958 the government created six navy research and development laboratories, including underwater acoustics and underwater weapons. In 1965, China expanded its old Bureau of Oceans into a vast network of facilities, research and forecast centers and bureaus called the State Oceanographic Agency. By 1970, it created special underwater acoustic sites in the Bohai, East China and Yellow seas. Technical institutes known to be very involved in sonar design are Institute 715 in Huangzhou and Institute 706 in Beijing. Other sonar manufacturing plants include the Dongfeng Mechanical Plant that produced the SQ2-D sonar for diesel submarines, the Jiangxin Machinery Plant, the Jiangning Mechanical Plant and the Great Wall Radio Factory in Beijing.
Although there are no photographs of indigenous Chinese sonars on warships in open sources, an interesting photograph taken in 1978 inside the J-302 vessel participating in submarine-launched ballistic missile test shots showed a "splashdown monitoring team" manning a unit. With one large CRT and three smaller CRTs above, it looked like a sonar set, although the operator was not wearing a headset.

Beginning in the mid-1970s, China opted to import modern sonars. These tend to fall into two categories. France provided modern sonar equipment from 1974 until 1993. The second period of modern Russian sonar systems extends from 1994 to the present.
The first imported French sonars were two sets of the lightweight Thomson SS-12 variable depth sonars in 1974. These can be used as a dipping sonar on antisubmarine warfare (ASW) helicopters or as a variable-depth stern-- mounted sonar on a small ASW patrol craft. The five Hanclass SSNs reportedly obtained French DUUX-5 sonar sometime around 1974, as did the single Xia nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) around 1988, although Chinese SQX- designations were used. Three Chinese diesel Song-class submarines carried French TSM-2233 and TSM-2255 sonars beginning around 1988.

In 1987, on Haiju patrol craft hulls 688 and 697, SS12 variable depth sonar (VDS) replaced the aft 57-millimeter guns. These sonars could have been copies of the two acquisitions from France. The workhorse Luda-class guided missile destroyers (DDGs) had their first notable upgrade in 1987. The lead ship built in 1972, DDG 105, received facilities for two helicopters and 57-millimeter guns but no new bow sonar. This was known as the oneof-a-kind Luda II. What is not as well-known is that another Luda, DDG 131, was in a Shanghai dry dock with a large bow sonar dome in the same year but was not called a Luda II.

The most capable French sonar provided was the DUBV-23 surface-ship scanning LF search sonar. The first example appeared on the first Luda III conversion in 1990. The two new construction Luhu DDGs had the DUBV-23 in 1993, and the larger Luhai DDG had one in 1999. The largest and best warships of the PLAN all sported the DUBV-23, and the Luhu also had the French DUBV-43 LF VDS aft. China had licensed production rights from France for both sonars.

The Russian import sonars are significant because they were included as part of a full weapon/sensor suite on modern vessels that China bought. The modern ASW torpedoes and missiles with associated fire control systems greatly enhanced the capabilities of the complex sonars.

In 1995 the first of two modern, quiet 877E Kilo submarines were procured with MKG-400 and MG-519 sonar suites. Two additional improved-636 Kilos followed in three years, but the sonar suites were nearly identical. The MKG400 was improved to the MGK-400 EM variant. In 1999 the first of two Sovremenny DDGs arrived from Russia equipped with MG-335 MF bow sonar and MG-7 HF fire control attack sonar. Because of the clustering of the most modern Kilo and Sovremenny units in the Zhoushan area, it is probable that Russia established a maintenance and support group there for the ASW suites.
China's designation for sonar systems installed on various surface ships is "SJD" followed by a unique number. The Kronstadt with TAMIR in 1955 was SJD-3, increasing with odd numbers to SJD-11 on the Luda III in 1992. It is probable that Luhu and Luhai are equipped with SJD-13 and -15, but this is not confirmed. The logistics support, maintenance and operator training are challenging because of the variety of old Soviet and modern French and Russian sonars, in addition to several indigenous searchlight and scanning sonars.Based upon 43 sets of sonar equipment provided by the Soviet Union, China produced 417 additional sonars for various classes of warships and submarines. The few ships fitted with modem French sonars are fairly certain, and the new Russian sonar suites on Kilo submarines and Sovremenny DDGs are very publicized. The sonar types of a vast number of Chinese designed combatants launched between those two known sonar installation groups are the interesting mystery. These numerous indigenously designed destroyers, frigates, patrol craft and submarines total more than 100 vessels. It is hoped that in the near future, China will be more open and the actual state of PLAN sonar technology will be revealed.

A coastal force extends its reach and capabilities.

The Peoples Liberation Army Navy recently introduced two domestically designed and built guided missile destroyers that include Aegis-type radars and related technologies. Known as Project 052C guided missile destroyers (DDGs), the ships feature Aegis-type phased array panels, vertical launch systems, long-range missiles and considerable command and control. These capabilities were not found on any previous Chinese-built DDGs.

The design of a lead ship with prototype Aegis radar, combat direction links and a vertical launch system (VLS) into a small 6,600-ton hull is an ambitious development. The smallest U.S. Navy Aegis ship with VLS is the 8,400-ton Arleigh Burke-class DDG 51. Russia had its Aegis-equivalent Sky Watch system only on 30,000-ton aircraft carriers. The nine years of sea test development prior to the U.S. Navys first installing Aegis on the warship USS Ticonderoga CG 47 indicates the complexity and the engineering effort necessary to build a successful Aegis system. The fact that the Soviet Union gave up on an Aegis system after years of frustrating problems on two warships also shows the extreme difficulties.

China is building only two 052C ships, and the next ship under construction will have a different Aegis and VLS suite. Even so, the mere existence of Peopls Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships with long-range phased array radar, communications to other naval assets and over-the-horizon ship-to-ship missiles (SSMs) complicates planning by other naval powers for the Taiwan Straits or other disputed Pacific Ocean waters.

The first sea platform for the U.S. Navy Aegis was the trial ship USS Norton Sound AVM-1 in 1974. The first warship full-up four-panel Aegis system was on the Ticonderoga in 1983, which had 50 meters between the fore and aft deckhouse arrays. The first Aegis destroyer with the single deckhouse array SPY-1D was the 8,400-ton Arleigh Burke lead ship in 1989. More than 50 DDG 51-class ships have been built in this highly successful and constantly upgraded class of warships. All cruiser and destroyer SPY-1 variant antennas are 3.7 meters in diameter and measure 13.5 meters vertically, and they have an F-band frequency of from 3100 to 3500 megahertz.

In 1988, the Soviet Union installed its first Aegis-type Sky Watch on two full-deck aircraft carriers. Each of the four square-plate phased array antennas measured about 5 meters in diameter, and their frequency was estimated to be F-band at about 850 megahertz. This is similar to the Top Plate radar that was mounted on previous Soviet carriers for long-range detection. The port array was 60 meters forward from the starboard array.

The Soviets seem to have had considerable trouble in exercises with their Gorshkov phased array radar, as mechanical scanning Top Sail/Top Pair radars replaced it on the next Soviet carrier, the Tblisi. Sea operations attempting to successfully target incoming threats using external ship or aircraft platforms also seem to have failed.

Chinas first 6,600-ton missile destroyer with an Aegis-type four-plate phased array antenna is the Lanzhou DDG 170 launched in Jiangnan Shipyard in April 2003. The DDG 171 followed six months later. Their undesignated Chinese radar is different from the Aegis or Sky Watch phased array radars. This radar is C-band instead of L- or F-band, and it has convex curved arrays instead of flat panels. The four arrays are 4.6 meters high x 3.9 meters wide, and they face out from the forward deckhouse as on the U.S. DDG 51. China reportedly has purchased two advanced Russian phased array radars for a follow-on larger air defense DDG 103 ship that is under construction at the Dalien shipyard. The short one- or two-ship production runs are a trademark of post-Luda DDG designs.

When the U.S. Navy installed its first MK 41 VLS on the Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruiser CG-52 in 1989, it featured 64 missile cells forward and 32 cells aft. The MK 41 VLS cells launch multiwarfare missiles. The first Russian VLS trials were with SAN-6 missiles on the fourth Kara cruiser in 1977, and the 8,000-ton Udaloy DDG had eight SAN-9 VLS hatches. Both SAN-6 and SAN-9 VLS systems featured round modules with eight cells each and had a large unique Top Dome or Cross Sword acquisition and guidance fire control director and radar/datalink.

The PLAN DDG 170 and 171 feature six HHQ-9 VLS launcher modules forward of the bridge and two aft by the helicopter hanger. At first glance the Chinese VLS launcher looks like the Russian VLS, but there are major differences. The Chinese VLS modules each have two fewer cells than the original Soviet VLS, and the Russian VLS has only one hatch, as eight cells with blow-out patches rotate under it to launch. The rationale that the Russian eight-cell modules were too large for the smaller Chinese DDG hull does not seem valid because the diameter of the Russian module is only 1.5 feet larger than the Chinese module. Possibly, China used S-300 missiles, and Russia provided no naval SAN-6 equipment.

The Chinese VLS has a hinged hatch above each cell and launches each with no rotation needed. China uses a cold launch technique, as does Russia, which eliminates the complex smoke and flame ducts required by the U.S. Navys MK 41 VLS. A PLAN experimental ship has been testing a new VLS that has rectangular hatches similar to the MK 41, and this may be on the next-generation DDG 103 being built in Dalien.

China does not have a large dedicated SAN-6 Top Dome fire control radar near the VLS launchers. The Aegis phased array radar could provide search, and a small antenna near the VLS also could provide X-band acquisition and control links. The smaller guidance and tracking G-/H-band antennas that also have been found on Top Dome radars are located as stand-alone links fore and aft. A small radome is adjacent to fore/aft VLS launcher modules alongside the close-in weapons system, and this is usually covered by canvas in photographs. Several radomes are located fore and aft for satellite communications or non-VLS links or search functions. A very large radome atop the bridge mast may be a Type-364 multipurpose air search, surface search and targeting radar.

The usual PLAN antisubmarine warfare suite would be Italian triple antisubmarine warfare torpedo tubes and 12-barrel Type-75 mortars. Their locations on these new ships are not obvious from initial photographs. Almost certainly a French DUBV-23 bow-mounted sonar dome is under the raked bow. The fully automatic 100-millimeter gun turret on the bow is evolved from the French Creusot-Loire.

A pair of new 30-millimeter seven-barrel close-in weapons systems looks like Dutch Goalkeeper mounts, but the Netherlands claims it did not export the Goalkeeper to China. It appears that China has heavily modified the I-band Goalkeeper antenna, which also appeared on prior Project 052B DDGs. The Chinese designation for this close-in weapons system is Type-730.

A Luda upgrade first installed rectangular YJ-81 SSMs in 1999, and this has continued through the YJ-81s on new DDGs. The large Russian Bandstand radome supports SSMs with a 250-kilometer-range I-band active radar and a 450-kilometer-range multiband passive radar. Chinas DDG 107 has six new round-tube-shaped SSM launchers of slightly larger diameter than earlier C-803 SSMs. This indicates a more modern, longer range version of the C-805 (YJ-85) or a newer Russian supersonic SSM.

Taking full advantage of Aegis requires effective datalinks. The concept for the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) was outlined in a NATO study in 1955. Three NATO ships were the testbeds for prototype NTDS in 1961, and they operated together for years of development trials. Link 11, also called TADIL-A, was a high frequency (HF) and ultrahigh frequency (UHF) digital encrypted data bus. Later, wideband Link 16 UHF with 10 times the speed was added with antijam frequency hopping included.

Soviet NTDS concepts, such as integrated communication links, first appeared on Kara and Kresta II. The Bell Crown system, which was replaced by the newer Bell Thumb in 1993, was the original Soviet Link 11. The Light Bulb antenna serves the Link-16 Joint Tactical Information Display System (JTIDS) role, which would be replaced by newer AT-2M for Link-16 traffic. Russia has the expected surface-ship-to-aircraft and missile guidance datalinks. Light Bulb and Bandstand were datalinks to the SS-N-22 SSM on PLAN Sovremenny-class ships purchased from Russia.

The first Chinese tactical communication links with characteristics similar to NTDS were observed on the 4,200-ton Luhu-class DDGs in 1991. Initial TAVITAC CDS installations took place on the DDG 105 in 1987, and other Luda models in 1987 could have tried the concept. The PLAN link frequencies of 225 megahertz HF and 400 megahertz UHF are the same frequencies NTDS uses and may be part of the Chinese tactical datalink system designated HN-900.

Western vendors have provided Chinese aircraft with the MIL-STD 1553B data bus, which now has been installed on new 052 DDGs. China has used a Type-W datalink provided by France to non-NATO export customers that is similar to TADIL-A. Sovremenny and Ka-25 helicopters are equipped with the A-346Z secure datalink in addition to HF, very high frequency (VHF) and UHF radios. The newest frigates and DDGs 168, 169 and 170 have the HN-900. The HN-900 probably includes some of these foreign datalink technologies. The Russian Light Bulb datalink is positioned above the DDG 170 helicopter hanger, and Bandstand provides coordinated operations between the Russian navy using Chinese datalinks.

A Soviet 1950-vintage A-band Knife Rest early warning yagi radar antenna is aft. This antenna was not on 052B or the Luhu, but it was on the Luhai and 1990-vintage Luda upgrades and Jiangwei frigates. This seems to hint a weakness in the Aegis, which normally should perform such detection.

The Chinese Aegis DDGs have their own Ka-25 helicopters that can have distant reconnaissance or targeting capabilities and possibly can even carry missiles, although the Aegis concept is to pass target data to the control ship that would launch its weapons. Long-range shore-based fighter aircraft such as the Su-30MKK with its M400 over-the-horizon multispectral reconnaissance pod can pass target data back or can even be vectored to attack with its own long-range 3M80 Moskit missiles by the control ship. The early Su-27SK had an analog voice-encoding link, but the newer Su-30MKK has a TKS-22 datalink. China is negotiating with Russia to equip future Su-30 MK2 aircraft to include the next-generation TSIMSS-1 digital datalink. The DDG 107 would need the appropriate Sukhoi-variant link.

Long-range maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) variants of Tu-154- or Y8-converted An-12 are excellent reconnaissance assets with direct links to the Aegis control ship. Soviet naval MPA used R-837 and R-807 for long-range communications, and the R-802 was the UHF command radio—all of which are on PLAN ships. China has limited ocean reconnaissance satellite capability, but it is known to intercept and utilize data from other nations’ satellites, including those of the United States. Other non-Aegis warships can be good over-the-horizon data sources as long as they have the appropriate datalinks. They could even be shooters if targets are within their missile range. Naturally, the Sovremminy, the Luhu and the Luhai are the best consorts, but other frigates or Luda destroyers also could be used if necessary.

A key element required for an integrated Aegis capability is a shipboard local area network (LAN) and common display consoles shared by a sensors and computer/control station. The U.S. Navy has had several generations of workstations on its Aegis ships.

Soviet ships had primary Second Admiral force command consoles and subordinate Second Captain own-ship warfare area consoles. These were used on large Soviet cruisers such as the Slava and the Kirov prior to the appearance of Sky Watch.

Chinese combat system architecture is less visible, and open literature sources do not directly describe it. A photograph in a working space on the Luhu showed several identical consoles being manned by technicians, and this was not seen on earlier stovepipe sensor and weapon equipment. The consoles do not look like any units seen on Soviet or French products, and they may have been designed and produced by Chinese electronic plants. Possible vendors are the Jiangsu Automation Research Institute, which is known to make rugged naval computers and displays, and Huanwei Technology, which makes Ethernet switches, routers and fiber optic datalinks.

As on the U.S. Aegis ships, such systems can retain many of the original hardware cabinets, but the unique display console might be replaced with a standard shared console including open architecture LAN access. Chinas choice of a LAN could be a Russian GOST standard or a Digibus LAN used on French TAVITAC CDS aboard recent PLAN ships. Ethernet or MIL-STD 1553 already are used in avionic and army systems and easily adapt to naval equipment, which supports interoperability of forces. Display console software operating systems likely would be commercial standard versions such as Windows or VX Works that are in production in China.