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Game of Thrones: Jets & Subs


China has agreed to buy 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and four Lada-class submarines from Russia, state media reported yesterday. This is China’s biggest arms purchase in a decade and a signal to neighboring countries that the People’s Liberation Army means business.

The large purchase will bulk up China’s naval and air forces at a tense time. Relations with Japan, which has a strong navy, and China’s other neighbors are especially low, mostly as a result of territorial disputes.

And yet, the deal “is not targeting anyone,” said Li Hong, the secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association. “It is the natural, well-deserved fruit of bilateral defense cooperation.”

Nevertheless, China’s neighbors will view the growth of its military, which is projected to spend $115.7 billion on defense this year, with concern. The likeliest result: Japan, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and others will up their own arms budgets.

Look at the bright side: That will surely be a boost for the European and American arms industries.

[Sukhoi Su-35 image courtesy Wikipedia.]

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  • Mark Michael

    America provided its nuclear umbrella to Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, et al, since WWII. If Obama’s retreat from this historical stance is taken seriously by all of these Far Eastern countries, how each country responds may not be the most desirable from our point of view! China seems to be getting more assertive militarily. Japan so far seems to be willing to align with S. Korea more closely, which we’ve encouraged and view as a positive development.

    If Japan truly decides they can no longer rely on our nuclear umbrella and decides to repeal their Constitution’s prohibition on nuclear armaments and openly initiate a nuclear program, we may come to regret it down the road. I suspect that Japan has secretly laid the groundwork for rapidly pursuing such a capability. After all, they have many nuclear power plants and hence enough trained nuclear engineers and scientists.

    In fact, I vaguely recall reading that after N. Korea launched a missile over part of Japan in maybe 2002, Japan began such preparations in earnest. Japan has a satellite launching capability. The government with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. has built the H-IIA rocket that has had 19 successful launches in a row. They hope to enter the business of launching satellites commercially, altho competition from Russia and Europe is stiff. That kind of capability can be adapted to guided missile use readily. Japan’s electronic capabilities are unparalleled, so the miniaturization needed for the complete nuclear-tipped missile is a given.

    So I’m going to make a guess: Japan could have a working intermediate missile with a nuclear warhead within 2 years if they pursued it actively.

    At that point, I’d guess most observers would tip the military power balance towards the Japanese/S. Korean alliance and away from China/N.Korea. Japan’s and S. Korea’s naval capacity far outstrips China’s, of course. S. Korea’s army historically has been considered first class (during the Vietnam era, anyway); whether it’s retained that level of training and ability, don’t know. Surely they could resurrect it if they feel threatened enough.

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