January 17, 2017

Threats to Liaoning carrier group 5 - begs question of uses.

Now or soon AUVs will be able to identify Liaoning’s unique electronic and sound signatures. The AUV could then work through a transmitting float-to-satellite to cue long range missiles or buddy-torpedo-AUVs to destroy Liaoning. The AUVs could be air-dropped or submarine inserted in Liaonings likely paths - days or weeks before Liaoning passes by. This is one reason why China went to the political trouble, on December 15, 2016, to drone-nap a US UUV near the Philippines.

More generally Liaoning carrier group 4 yesterday pointed to just some of the weaknesses of Liaoning + its escorts as an effective fighting unit. Today I decided to reiterate the overwhelming potential threats to a Chinese attempt (that would use the Liaoning group) to project power east to the Second island chain.

Liaoning's current to medium term (out to 2030) uses will be published tomorrow.


As the key above indicates, the First island chain is in red, and Second island chain in blue. The US possession of Guam, with its large long range aircraft base and naval/SSN base gives Guam a commanding position over the Second island chain.

Liaoning and its escorts alone cannot defeat all the threats out past China's very restricted First island chain environment. The First island chain marks a bastion protective zone for the Chinese navy but foreign land forms and narrows also keep the Chinese navy bottled up in this zone. 

It takes a great deal of national power to despatch a carrier group in safety – into threatening waters that are outside land based coverage. Even out to the Second Island China is potentially threatened by  countries with long experience and advanced militaries (Russia, Japan, South Korea and US forces). 
-  even Vietnam, Singapore and Australia have useful submarines, with torpedos and growing
    long-range anti-shipping missile capabilities, 
and 
-  North Korea has a near pathological leadership with access to deliverable nuclear weapons (in a
    very few years) that may bite (on land or sea) the Chinese hand that feeds it.

To face all these threats - within the parameters of a medium level conflict (an international war using only conventional (non-nuclear) weapons) China would need, out to the Second island chain:
-  regional air-superiority, ie. many more fighter aircraft than the 24 the Liaoning can provide + MPAs
   (for ASW and anti-surface missions) that Liaoning doesn't have
-  surface superiority on the sea and over landforms (ie. no enemy land-based long range missiles
    within range of Liaoning), and

For undersea-submarine superiority, against forces of the power and standard of the US and Russian navies, China would need:
-  SSNs of higher quality than China's Type 093s, and
-  sensor superiority to anticipate and avoid such threats as:
   =  Fixed but in some ways smart and autonomous mines, that may be floating, tethered, and
       rising from the seafloor or LWT style (propeller or rocket propelled).
   =  AUV/UAVs that promise to be even more autonomous, longer ranged, over longer periods, even
       having battery recharging facilities on the sea floor.

The whole Western strategy of restricting Chinese power projection beyond the Second island chain, east into the broad Pacific, may collapse if the US adopts any isolationist, withdrawal from Asian bases from Guam or Darwin strategy. 

So what use is Liaoning to China currently and out to the medium (15 year) term?

Pete

5 comments:

Josh said...

@Pete:

The Liaonings primary uses as I see it are gathering operational experience, projecting power into low/no threat areas, and diplomatic coercion of lesser regional powers (ie, Not the US, Oz, ROK, or Japan). Again those powers she likely is more of a liability and a target than an offensive asset.

Cheers,
Josh

Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Thanks for that info.

Defense Secretary Mattis sounds quite sensible and has also said the US will honour security guarantees to South Korea.

Hopefully Trump (who has proven ignorant, clumsy and loves Tweeting) is aware of Mattis's promises to Japan and South Korea.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Former US administration also admitted application of US-Japan Security Treaty, ARTICLE V to Senkaku Islands. I misunderstood this fact. So, following sentencse in the comment (3/2/17 10:02 PM) should be deleted. “Japanese government and JMSDF have been longing this statement, but former US administration hesitated involvement of US in the Senkaku.”

Regards
S

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

A short time ago, Japanese government executives revealed very important information on Senkaku Islands. US Secretary of Defense, Mr James Mattis told PM Abe that the US-Japan Security Treaty, ARTICLE V [1] is applied to Senkaku Islands. Mr.James Mattis is currently visiting Tokyo. Coming Feb/10, PM Abe will meet President Trump with nice souvenir, i.e., huge amount of investiment in US.

[1] US-Japan Security Treaty, ARTICLE V
Each Party recognizes that an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Thanks for your correction at 5/2/17 2:58 PM.

I have now deleted “Japanese government and JMSDF have been longing this statement, but former US administration hesitated involvement of US in the Senkaku.”

With your comment now at 5/2/17 3:40 PM (above).

Regards

Pete