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Naval Strategy
Top Admiral: China Outguns US Under the Waves
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  • Frank Natoli

    Numbers do matter. What also matters is how noisy or quiet they are [classified]. And whether the Chinese can hear our boats [classified]. And while their diesel-electrics are probably quite quiet underwater on batteries, come to the surface to run the diesels and they’re dead [not classified]. And the U.S. need not “assume the worst” regarding Chinese anti-ship missiles, assuming, hah-hah, our ASW is good enough to keep their boats away from our carriers [classified] and our anti-missile technology is reliable enough to destroy missiles launched from surface points [classified].

  • iconoclast

    “Washington would like to be able to assure its allies in Asia that it will be able to intervene if China decided to make a land grab or attack a neighbor.”

    Which Washington? The Washington of Obama administration progressives who firmly believe the USA is the bully and needs to be put down? Or the Washington that forged alliances with nations that believes those alliances must be honored?

    I think we already know the answer to that question.

  • f1b0nacc1

    While the Chinese have improved their sub force considerably, they are still a long, long way from being a serious threat. The Song-class (the most recent iteration) is still quite noisy, lacks an effective AIP (air-independent propulsion) system, and suffers from serious sensor deficiencies. Worse, their sub crews are very poor, showing almost no independent initiative (a crucial component for an effective sub force), and there is little reason to believe that this will change any time soon. While of course we should (and do) expect improvements in this state of affairs, we are seeing similar improvements in American ASW and anti-missile defenses that offset these changes on the Chinese side.
    As for the ‘carrier-killer’ missiles, even the Chinese concede that for these to work properly, they require a large number of OTHER systems (notably off-board sensors) to be in place, and they are not. Certainly caution demands that we look at these potential threats and take them seriously, but this reeks of the sort of panic that we saw in the last 70s/early 80s regarding Soviet strike aircraft and the survivability of carriers. As it turned out, the threat wasn’t viable, as too many crucial components necessary for it to be so simply weren’t in place.
    With respect to the navy’s rep, this smells of budgetary politics and threat inflation, not a serious discussion of the real problems at hand. The USN has some issues that need addressing (it’s surface ship planning is godawful, and there is a looming problem regarding retention of junior and mid-level officers that could be a big threat down the road), but the boogeyman of Chinese subs is simply not a realistic one at this time.

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