Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Grain Of Salt.

The statement Australia's media are referring to is by, here is excerpt:

If Chinese leaders thought that saying goodbye to their least favorite US military commander, current US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris, would mean a more amenable replacement is on the way, they had better guess again. The nominee to take the spot when Harris becomes ambassador to Australia is sounding the alarm bells about China’s operations in the South China Sea, calling for the US to maintain a strong presence in the region and step up advanced weapons development. In written testimony to the US Senate Armed Services Committee released last week, the likely pick, Admiral Philip Davidson, said that China has already taken control of the South China Sea. “In short,” he wrote, “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”
If by control Admiral Davidson means ability to deploy increasingly impressive Chinese surface naval component--absolutely. Moreover, China was investing like crazy into state-of-the-art air superiority component and in developing a genuine A2/AD capability, not least through a variety of anti-shipping missiles. At some point of time it was inevitable that US and allied Navies will encounter China's Fleet-In-Being. There is, however, one field where US Navy is simply in a different league with PLAN--it is nuclear submarine component where US Navy holds for now overwhelming technological and operational advantage over PLAN beyond realistic ranges of PLAN's SSKs and patrol aviation. How long this gap will continue to exist? I don't know. I'll go out on a limb and say 10-12 years. So, if Davidson is concerned with the "security" of Oceania (boy, did those bells ring with Orwellian melody immediately), I would take those concerns with a little grain of salt.
The issue is larger than Oceania--it is global and, apart from significant traditional threat inflation for monetary (budgetary) gain, is about overall naval strategy and doctrine. Davidson was to the point when describing technological approach:
Regarding military technology, Davidson outlined a number of crucial areas in which to invest. “A more effective Joint Force requires sustained investment in the following critical areas: undersea warfare, critical munitions stockpiles, standoff weapons (Air-Air, Air-Surface, Surface-Surface, Anti-Ship), intermediate range cruise missiles, low cost / high capacity cruise missile defense, hypersonic weapons, air and surface lift capacity, cyber capabilities, air-air refueling capacity, and resilient communication and navigation systems.”
See highlighted in yellow? As I encountered last week some stupid (I am sure by one of those "experts" from US tabloids masquerading as "analytical" magazines) parallel: Speed is a New Stealth?  "Is"? Really? And since when "Stealth", much of which is PR, was the "thing"? It was and is always a speed, and these are hyper-sonic weapons and upcoming extremely capable Air-Missile-Defense complexes which already redefined naval warfare and with it the global balance of power. It will be rather fascinating to observe the US Navy's anti-shipping missile development. As recent events in Syria has shown, LRASM (a derivative of JASSM) is obsolete on arrival--it simply doesn't measure up to modern AD and EW capabilities of Russian or Chinese Navies. To have a real punch--one must today get into the Mach=3+ and highly maneuverable salvos' territory and this is not going to be easy. Not at all. US still commands an impressive scientific and engineering competence, but it will be not easy to close the gap in weapon systems which for all intents and purposes were viewed in US Navy as institutional threat to Aircraft Carriers. But it seems we really are nearing the moment of truth. 

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