With tensions mounting over China’s island-building in the South China Sea, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence has published its first report on the Chinese navy since 2009. The report, released late Thursday (pdf) predicts: “In the next decade, China will complete its transition from a coastal navy to a navy capable of multiple missions around the world.”
The report says that in 2014, China reclaimed hundreds of acres of land at the seven features it occupies in the disputed Spratly Islands and “appears to be building much larger facilities that could eventually support both maritime law enforcement and naval operations.” It also confirms that China’s newest destroyers have been fitted with a new kind of vertically launched supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, called the YJ-18, which could significantly enhance their capacity to threaten U.S. ships.
Here are five graphics that illustrate some its other key findings:
1) China’s coast guard and maritime law enforcement fleet is now bigger than those of Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines combined. The coast guard will add 50 ships to its fleet between 2012 and 2015, increasing its overall force by 25 percent.
2) China launched more naval ships than any other country in 2013 and 2014, and is expected to continue this trend through 2015-16.
3) The range of Chinese naval surface-to-air and anti-ship cruise missiles is increasing. China’s newest class of destroyer, the LUYANG III, is fitted with the new YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missile which Andrew Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College says in a blog post “could pose unprecedented challenges to the air defenses of U.S. and allied ships.”
4) China’s submarine force currently consists of five nuclear attack submarines, four nuclear ballistic missile submarines and 57 diesel attack submarines. By 2020, that force will likely grow to more than 70 submarines.
5) According to the report, China’s navy will soon assume a central role in the country’s nuclear deterrence, launching ballistic missile submarine patrols with intercontinental-range missiles. “As we look ahead to the coming decade, the introduction of aircraft carriers, ballistic missile submarines, and potentially a large-deck amphibious ship will fundamentally alter how the PLA(N) operates and is viewed by the world,”it says.
– Jeremy Page. Follow him on Twitter @JNBPage
* Notícia publicada al Wall Street Journal. Clar i concís resum de punts clau en l'expansió navla xinesa, que publiva l'ONI cada any. Per aquells qui vulguin accedir al document complet, cliqueu aquí.