The Rise of the Chinese Navy

INTRODUCTION

25 years ago, the Chinese Navy or the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) as it is officially known as, was virtually a military branch which no country took seriously. It consisted of a handful of destroyers which were equipped with short range and almost obsolete weapons compared to the West or the Soviet Union. But, 1990 onwards, the Chinese embarked on a massive modernization and expansion plan for their navy. They began to replace their outdated vessels with indigenous ones and imported ones if they didn’t have the technology yet. Their gunboats were replaced by missile boats, their light frigates were replaced with powerful missile armed ones, they embarked on a plan to acquire an aircraft carrier and increase their fleet of nuclear submarines. I will tell you about those in detail in the next few paragraphs.

DESTROYERS

Sovremnny class © Navy.81.cn
Type-52

⇓ 

(Design improvement over 20 years)

Type-52D

The first major purchase made by the Chinese in the late ‘90s was a total of 4 Sovremnny class guided missile destroyers from Russia, 2 of which were customized and upgraded and delivered by 2005. At that time, it was the most powerful destroyer in the Russian inventory. It was armed with 8 Moskit supersonic Anti-ship missiles, 48 medium range Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs), 2 of the deadliest naval guns in the world, i.e. the twin barreled Ak-130 and had powerful radars and sophisticated electronics. It was at that time, slated to be the most powerful warship in the Chinese Navy and would inspire the development of a series of Chinese destroyers with progressively better capabilities. Using the technology and the experience, they designed the Type-52 class of destroyers. This class has been so drastically improved, that the latest variant, the Type-52D is said to be one of the most powerful warships in the world and it incorporates cutting edge AESA radars, 64 Universal missile launchers (same launcher for all types of missiles) which only the US have been able to develop and modern missile defense systems. Its predecessor, the Type-52C is also very powerful and it tested the technology which was incorporated on the 52D. It can carry up to 64 supersonic anti-ship missiles if needed because of its universal launching capability. This has no equivalent as the west still uses 8 tube angled launchers for its AShMs and Russia and India incorporate a maximum of 16-20 cells on their major warships.

FRIGATES

Type-53H2G

Type-53H3

Type-54

Type-54A

Older Chinese frigates were armed with several medium caliber guns in manned mounts and sort range missiles. They weren’t good enough for anything other than local patrolling and had almost no powerful warfighting weapons. The Chinese rectified this as well and overtook their regional rivals and developed powerful frigates which rank among the best in the world. They rapidly developed new missiles and guns by reverse engineering and incorporated them onto their new ships. The one commendable thing that the Chinese do is to produce small numbers of a new class of ship, and when it is a success, they take what all they learnt from building it and incorporate them into a successive class which will be very powerful and will be mass produced. This is working in their favour as their Type-54 series of frigates show. The initial Type-54 frigates were built in small numbersas a successor to the Type-53 and were relatively lightly armed and had 8 Anti-Ship missiles and an 8 cell launcher for short range SAMs. But they incorporated the lessons they learned along with new technology into the Type-54A class of frigates. The 54A has 32 vertical launchers for medium range SAMs which is a massive improvement in air defence capability when compared to its predecessor and features improved radars, sensors missiles. They have shown their capacity to mass produce by building 20 Type-54A frigates in just 8 years. Comparatively, their neighbour built 3 similar vessels in 8 years.

MISSILE BOATS

Houbei class flotilla
Houbei class firing C-802 missile

The older Chinese navy relied on hundreds of gunboats and torpedo boats to deploy in the South China Sea and to act as a deterrent against enemy intrusion of their territory. Now these have been replaced by a class of powerful missile boats called the Type-022 Houbei class. These are extremely impressive boats which pack a solid punch in surface warfare with their load of 8 Medium range AShMs. They make use of a catamaran design which also gives them a very high top speed. Many critics and analysts point out that these boats are insignificant in modern warfare as they are easy targets for aircraft and submarines as they lack self defence systems. But I feel that these boats are not at all vulnerable.

In case of a conflict, the Type-022 will act in coordination with the Type-52 destroyers and the Type-54 frigates. An ideal scenario will be a situation where a destroyer and frigate accompany a dozen missile boats to face the enemy. Since these boats carry 8 missiles, the dozen boats will pack the same punch as a dozen frigates which also carry the same 8 missiles. All the protection to these bats will be provided by the destroyers and frigates and probably a submarine operating with the task force. So technically these boats will act as floating missile carriers. They use tactics like these and easily launch 8×12=96 missiles against the enemy and saturate their defenses and achieve a kill. So to fire 96 missiles, the Chinese need not employ 12 frigates. Just 12 of these inexpensive boats escorted by frigates can get the job done. China has nearly 100 such boats. Hence it is impossible to launch an attack on the Chinese navy in their turf, without suffering major losses. Thus they have ensured the safety of their mainland from external aggression by building such vessels.

AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

J-15

Details about Liaoning © Jeff Head 2012

Now, the most talked about part of the Chinese Navy in the recent years has been its new aircraft carrier. They did not have the technology to build a carrier from scratch, so they did the next best thing. They bought an empty skeleton carrier from Russia on the pretext of turning it into an entertainment complex and then towed the empty rusting hull back to china where they began a 10 year long program to refurbish the hull and convert it into a brand new carrier. The long and tiring process was a success and china named its newest carrier Liaoning. They claimed that it would not be used as a warship and that it was merely a ‘training ship’ for its pilots to train carrier ops from. They selected the Chinese version of the flanker called as J-15 to operate from their carrier. This would theoretically give China the ability to project air power in the South China Sea and carry out air strikes far away from their mainland. But carrier aviation is not just about building an aircraft carrier and getting aircraft and pilots to fly from it. It is a very complicated procedure which needs years of training and perfection to be of any use in a combat. The Chinese have absolutely no experience in carrier operations. Hence it would be at least 5-10 years before they can operate their carriers as effectively as USA, UK, France or India.

Liaoning during sea trials © News.cn
J-15 performs an arrested landing

The Liaoning has the dimensions and displacement of a Supercarrier but since it uses ski jumps to launch aircraft and has a capacity of less than 50 aircraft, it doesn’t actually qualify for that title. Photos released of the carrier ops show that the Chinese navy is still perfecting carrier launches and arrested landings. They won’t have the carrier combat effectiveness of the US, French, Royal or the Indian navies for the next decade at least. It needs a rigorous training and cooperation with existing carrier operating navies. Since China can’t send their pilots for training to US or Russia like Indian pilots, they have to figure out everything all on their own. The future Chinese carriers are already under construction. It is said that they have purchased the design of Russia’s abandoned carrier Ulyanovsk, and they are building 2 carriers based on an improved version of this design.

You must be thinking that any major country can build naval vessels, and why am I stressing about China. It is because they have managed to refine their designs and improvise with locally built technology faster than any of the western countries have been able to do, or even Russia for example. Russia hasn’t built a single new class of destroyer since the collapse of the Soviet Union (they just finished building the ones laid up earlier), but China has managed to build dozens since their collapse. But of course all their technology is heavily unproven so far and it is just the word of the Chinese that we have to rely on to know about their combat effectiveness. But that is no reason to underestimate them as most of the technology used currently is not war proven but still considered to be very good. A reverse engineered Chinese product may not be as good as the original, but the Chinese have proved that they can copy a system and improve it to make it almost as good as the original system itself. The Americans, Indians, Europeans all have to remove the blind notion that Chinese products aren’t good as they are copied stuff. I’m not telling that Chinese products are better than western ones, but their scientists are developing weapons which are cost effective and can give Western, European and Russian equivalents a run for their money.

SUBMARINES

Type-94 SSBN
Type-39A SSK
Kilo class SSK

The Chinese submarine fleet consists of around 50 diesel powered submarines (SSK) and around a dozen nuclear powered (SSN) ones. The thing is, the Chinese submarine strength can’t be determined exactly as they have several large and secret submarine bases which can house an unknown number of submarines. Their diesel sub fleet, although largely outdated, can prove dangerous in the South China Sea. China has had nuclear submarines from a long time. But they aren’t up to the level of Russian, American or European submarines. The one thing that is synonymous with Chinese nuclear subs is noise. This is not expected to change in the near future as they are concentrating on surface warfare vessels and building relatively quiet diesel submarines. Their next generation of SSBNs are expected to field an 8000 km range ballistic missile. The next generaation Type-95 attack submarines is expected to have land attack capability.

There were also rumors that China wanted to lease an Akula from Russia during the 90’s, but the deal never came through. If they had managed to lease one, they would have developed a fleet of deadly reverse engineered subs which would have been quieter than anything that they have in their inventory currently. Thankfully such a thing never occurred and Chinese SSNs are noisy enough to be tailed easily by American subs which currently dominate the underwater space. How much ever China progresses in submarine technology, they can never match American, British, French and Russian nuclear subs. There are reports which say that US Navy has a very easy time tailing Chinese SSNs in the Pacific and the Indians too find it relatively easy to tail them in the Indian Ocean as they are comparatively very noisy.

FUTURE

 One of the possible carrier designs © Wenxiaotong

The Chinese navy has several major projects in the pipeline. These things aren’t officially confirmed by their government, so all we have are speculations, rumors and clever guesses. The most likely project is the construction of large aircraft carriers as the Chinese made their intention to build more carriers public. Nothing is known about the design of these carriers. But we can be sure than they will be larger than their current carrier and will easily displace around 75-80,000 tons and will be more than 300 m long. It is unknown whether the carriers will use ski jump or catapults to lunch aircraft. There are speculations that these carriers will be nuclear powered and will base the naval version of the J-31 stealth fighter.

There are rumors about the construction of a 10-15,000 ton guided missile cruiser for the PLAN. The photos of a full scale mockup have added credibility to this rumor. These ships will have 128 Universal VLS, FL-3000N and Type-1030 CIWS and a 130/155 mm naval gun and will have extensive command and control facilities, a bigger and improved version of the AESA radar found on the Type-52D and possible Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) capabilities. They would be in the same category as the Ticonderoga and Slava class cruisers. That would definitely change the balance of power in the pacific.

Currently, they lack the capability for long overseas deployments, but that will soon change with the commissioning of new support ships, aircraft carriers, landing ships, cruisers and submarines. The US navy has total and unchallenged dominance in the Pacific, but that will change very soon as they are getting a formidable opponent who can’t be taken lightly. This may prove to be a problem for the South East Asian nations who have territorial disputes with China. But it all depends on how China decides to use its newly acquired naval power, to maintain peace or to bully its neighbors. Only time will tell.

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41 thoughts on “The Rise of the Chinese Navy

  1. A through job well done. The article is highly informative and throws light on the evolving Chinese naval powers, the power that will challenge United States, Japan, India to name a few in the coming years. Having said that, I always consider the current Chinese strategy of making enemies all around a folly. Because such a strategy ensures that all the other countries gang up against China. Further, little is said in main media of the rapid strides that Indian navy is making these days, with the introduction of advanced combatants like the Kolkata class destroyers and the upcoming P-17(A) stealth frigate projects. And India has the added advantage of having good relations with almost all the neighbours and also other countries of the far east. Having said that, it will be folly to underestimate the Chinese. They are on the move and will emerge as a world power house in years to come. But they will have to deal with an increasingly aggressive and capable competitors including India and Japan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another excellent piece of solid writing. Although the notion that Chinese submarines are very noisy is now outdated. The class of submarines the were detected by Japanese and American naval groups is the now the decommissioning Type 091 (Han class) submarine. This type of submarine, that was detected, is China’s first class of nuclear powered submarines and indeed they were quite noisy. However the newer classes of Type 093 and Type 095 signals consecutive improvements over the Han class, and no navy has yet detected one from these two classes. No official information was ever revealed about the noise level of these newer classes of nuclear subs.

    Currently it’s impossible to know the capabilities of Chinese newest submarines as this naval branch is very secretive and not even Chinese media outlets knows of their true capability and how many units of them are being built. What news of about Chinese submarines and from rare semi-official statements and incidents.

    Further the same can be said about the non obsolete classes of PLAN latest diesel submarines. The old Type 035 class is steadily been replaced by newer classes and quickly being decommissioned, two from this old class was even sold to Bangladesh last year. The noise level of these modern classes of diesel submarines is completely unknown, and has actually offered a surprise in one another incident. In 2006, a type 039 submarine, a relatively new class of Chinese diesel powered submarines, “popped up” and “surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected” within 5 nautical miles of a US carrier group that was operating in the East China Sea. This surprised everyone as the entire group didn’t detect the submarine until it breached the surface. Shattering the long time belief that China is incapable of developing silent submarines.

    Today new classes of submarines are being developed, and we have too little information about their capabilities to just label them as very noisy subs as the used to. China’s defence industry proves that they’re not solely modernising the Chinese navy’s surface combatants but in all areas. The stereotype that Chinese submarines are noisy is now an underestimation as new classes of readily being designed, developed, and tested. The initiative of the modernisation program to update their navy has pushed the Chinese industry in all areas and only time will tell what a complete modern Chinese navy will look like.

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    1. Thanks. I’ve mentioned that their submarines till recently were noisy. But their newest submarines built in the 21st century are definitely quiet. But I have no idea how quiet they are and how they stack up against ultra quiet Russian SSKs or USN SSNs. Although at the rate they are currently building ships, they may have the largest navy in the world by 2030.

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  3. China can build 7 052D, & 2 055 destroyers, 6 054B & 10 056 frigates annually. China is aldo currently building 2 aircraft carriers, 2 081 helicopter carriers, 2 50000 tons replenishment ships, 10 electric desile and 4 nuclear submarines. With China’s mass production, her navy power can be upgraded very fast and no other country in the world can match. And most importantly, all of those ships are built indegenously even some of their technology is from reverse engineering. They are not the most sophisticated ones but are already at the higher level when comparing with peers.

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  4. An altogether fascinating article, brilliantly explained.

    I am particularly impressed by the way the Chinese have mass-produced the Type-022. It is a commendable achievement, a potential game changer.

    I have a couple of questions (actually, three), would be thrilled if you could answer:

    1) What does a ship’s “endurance” mean? What is the definition of this term? From what I’m able to understand, endurance is not range – which is measured in km/nmi. Endurance seems to be measured in days.

    2) What factors does a ship’s endurance depend on? How does one increase a ship’s endurance?

    3) In particular, how would one increase the endurance of a missile boat such as the Type-022? Let’s say that instead of using it as a coastline defender, I want to deploy it in swarms, up to 2000 km from a hypothetical mainland (A2/AD operations). I am willing to trade speed for range/endurance. What kind of design changes (high-level) would be required?

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Partatva 🙂 I will be happy to answer your questions.

      1) Endurance is the ability of a ship to sustain itself and it’s crew. An endurance of 30 days means that a ship can feed it’s crew with the stored food and run on its own fuel for 30 days.
      2) Endurance mainly depends on the size of the ship as bigger ships store more fuel and food supplies. Endurance of smaller ships can be increased by the help of fleet replenishment ships, which resupply and refuel a warship in the seas.
      3) Endurance of small boats can only be increased by using fleet replenishment ships. Usually ships like type-022 can travel 1000 km by sailing at 10 knots (18.3 km/hr). If they don’t have the fuel and supplies, a fleet replenishment ship is the only answer for long range deployment. It’s not possible to increase on-board fuel stores unless you increase the size of these ships. This is because they are very compact and every bit of available space is used up by weapons , sensors and supplies, leaving no room for modifications.

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      1. Thank you, N.R.P for your excellent, succinct answers 🙂

        Consider the following hypothetical scenario:

        1. China develops a new class of missile boat (length: ~ 60 m; displacement: ~ 400 tonnes; cruise speed: 20 knots; range: 4000 km at cruise speed; primary armament: 8x C-802/CX-1; unit cost: ~ $40 million).

        2. They mass-produce 600 of these boats over the next 15 years (very feasible, given China’s excellent shipbuilding infrastructure). Total cost: ~ $24 billion.

        3. These boats are deployed in small squads of 3 (total 24 missiles per squad). They are used to establish/enforce Chinese supremacy in the nine-dotted line region, around Taiwan, and the Senkaku islands. They are protected by China’s powerful submarine force and aircraft carriers, S-400 batteries from the mainland, etc.

        4. Because of the relative proximity to the Chinese mainland, 50% of the boats can be at sea at any given time (300 boats, 100 squads). This establishes a formidable Chinese presence in these seas. Mission time can easily be extended using replenishment ships.

        5. This significantly frees up the PLAN’s main force of warships. These are then deployed far from the mainland – in the Pacific and the IOR (especially the vital chokepoints at Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, the Malacca strait). The PLAN transforms into a real blue water navy.

        Questions:

        1. How feasible is this scenario, in your opinion? Can a large force of cheap, expendable missile boats pose a significant threat to U.S. naval presence in the region? Can such a force decisively establish Chinese predominance in the South China Sea/first island chain?

        2. What can China’s major rivals – the U.S., Japan, India do to counter this?

        Thank you.

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      2. 1) Feasible ? It’s actually happening now! But on a smaller scale. They have over 100 type 022 missile boats at present. They have a massive submarine fleet and large numbers of land based cruise missiles.

        They are even building artificial islands to base missile boats and fighters! China can effectively shut down the South China sea if it wants to now. There’s no one who can counter such large numbers of land based cruise missiles. Chinese presence and strength in the SCS is growing rapidly and I suspect they are preparing for some unpleasant activities regarding Taiwan and other contested islands.

        These missile boats and ships of the Chinese navy can be dealt with by the USN submarine fleet easily. They are way too powerful for China. The USN has 4 Ohio class SSGNs which can carry 158 Tomahawk cruise missiles each. They will be used to take out the land based cruise missiles and air bases. The Chinese air defense will not be able to handle saturation missile attacks. The US will find it difficult to use their carriers, which can be overwhelmed by volleys of cruise and ballistic missiles.

        2) There’s nothing that can be done at present to stop China from expanding their navy and claiming disputed territories.

        The US, Japanese and Indian navies should focus on working together and conducting joint deployments and operations. They have started doing this at present and will be witnessed in exercise Malabar-15

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  5. History has a way of repeating itself. Times, borders, and technology may change, but the underlying patterns stay the same. These patterns have repeated themselves in various forms ever since history has been recorded.

    China’s breakneck militarization is eerily reminiscent of a certain European nation’s transformation some 85 years ago. The patterns are more or less the same.

    I believe China will bide its time for another 15 years, at the most. That gives the rest of the world until 2030 to get its collective act together.

    Now consider this scenario (and this one is purely hypothetical to the best of my knowledge):

    1. India (not China) develops a new class of missile boat (length: ~ 60 m; displacement: ~ 400 tonnes; cruise speed: 20 knots; range: 4000 km at cruise speed; primary armament: 8x BrahMos; unit cost: ~ $40 million).

    2. They mass-produce 600 of these boats over the next 15 years (difficult to see this happening given India’s minuscule shipbuilding infrastructure). Total cost: ~ $24 billion spread over 15 years.

    3. These boats are deployed in small squads of 3 (total 24 BrahMos per squad). They are used to establish/enforce Indian supremacy in the in the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, around the Maldives and Sri Lanka, up to Diego Garcia. They are protected by Indian submarines (are there enough?), aircraft carriers (including the unsinkable one), warships, etc.

    4. Because of the relative proximity to the Indian mainland, 50% of the boats can be at sea at any given time (300 boats, 100 squads). This establishes a formidable Indian presence in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. All Chinese presence is monitored and tailed 24/7. Mission time can easily be extended using replenishment ships.

    5. This significantly frees up the Indian navy’s main force of warships. These are then deployed in the vital IOR choke points at Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, the Malacca strait. The Indian navy transforms into a real blue water navy (at least in the IOR).

    6. Indian naval superiority over the IOR and its choke points can also force China to behave itself at India’s northern (undemarcated) borders with China.

    7. India also embarks on a project to build and deploy 100 small submarines (~ $50 million apiece) by 2030 (again, not sure if India can quickly develop the infrastructure to achieve this).

    8. The U.S., India, Japan, and Australia develop a strategic partnership and work together with the ASEAN countries. This leaves the US free to concentrate fully on Taiwan and the South China Sea.

    Questions:

    1. In your opinion, how feasible is this?

    2. Specifically, can India develop 20 brand new ship building facilities within 5 years, each capable of constructing 3-4 missile boats per year?

    3. Is India capable of quickly developing the infrastructure that will enable it to build 100 small submarines in 15 years?

    4. More importantly – does India understand/acknowledge the threat emanating from China? Is it WILLING to militarize massively as outlined above to prepare itself for the coming Red Tide? In my opinion, what India over the next 15 years (starting now) will decide the future of Asia and the world.

    Thanks.

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    1. 1) Totally not feasible and completely impractical. India is moving away from small missile boats and all their future missile boats will be semi-blue water ones like the Kora class. They have issued an RFP for 6 Next Gen Missile Vessels armed with 8-16 AShM each. They will displace over 1000 tons and the final order may end up at 12-20 vessels by 2030. The unit cost of each ship will be 200-300 million $ as they will feature sophisticated electronics and self protection systems unlike the disposable Type-022s.
      2) India will develop advanced shipbuilding facilities in the coming years and use them primarily for the construction of carriers, LHDs, frigates, destroyers and submarines.
      3) 100 small submarines ? Again an impractical solution. Numbers are not the answer to numbers. India supposedly has listening posts near the Andaman and Nicobar islands which are enough t detect and track Chinese subs and warships as they enter the IOR. Then a quiet SSK or SSN would suffice to trail the ships. P8s also do that job.
      4) Indian Navy has a very different approach to Indian Ocean security. They will use a variety of fixed sensors, aircraft, submarines and ships to monitor the movement of Chinese ships in the IOR. They will operate extensively with the US and Australian navies and keep a close tab on anything that China does.

      There is no need for India to do a ‘massive militarization’. The Indian Navy will focus on using a small number new carriers, destroyers, frigates and submarines to keep china in check. They will be greatly helped by land based aircraft. The other point in India’s favour is the Andaman and Nicobar islands, which India can use to base BrahMos missiles and blockade the Malacca strait to prevent Chinese naval passage in case of a war. China has no assets that it claims in the IOR and just wants to be present in the region. The real threat is for the countries in the SCS and they need to worry about whether they will start losing islands after a decade or so.

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  6. Interesting opinions.

    I disagree. Let me tell you why.

    India claims that the Indian ocean is its backyard. It’s nice to hear them say that. But how much truth does this claim have? Consider these facts. India can do little when:

    a. Chinese subs dock in Sri Lanka and Pakistan and patrol freely off India’s coastline
    b. Chinese hydrographic vessels spend several days surveying the seas off Mumbai and other coastal areas
    c. Pirates and terrorists use the Laccadive islands as havens
    d. The Pakistani navy routinely shoots and abducts Indian fishermen off India’s own western coast
    e. A boatload of terrorists travels all the way from Pakistan to Mumbai and wreaks mayhem
    f. Italian marines shoot Indian fishermen in India’s own territorial waters

    Would the Americans (or even the Chinese) tolerate any of the above?

    The truth is that the Indian navy is little more than a glorified coast guard. It can’t even do that job properly. Sure, they can send a few warships on humanitarian missions, and on joint exercises etc. but there are gaping holes everywhere.

    In my opinion, this has more to do with a lack of will and leadership (political?) than a lack of ability/capability/resourcefulness. India has always been far too pacifist – to its own detriment.

    If the Indian ocean were really India’s backyard, one would see an Indian naval presence wherever one went – at least in the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal.

    The submarine fleet is shot. At least half of India’s 14 (or is it 15?) ancient subs are grounded. I can’t see India having 20 top-shelf operational subs even by 2030.

    Chinese subs can comfortably outnumber and dominate Indian subs in India’s own backyard. And contrary to the popular belief that Chinese subs are noisy, the newer ones are remarkably silent. And deadly. A lone Indian Akula is not going to be enough.

    And what of Pakistan? Pakistan is firmly in the pro-China, anti-India camp. They are acquiring AIP-enabled subs from France, and will soon have new Chinese-build subs as well. The Pakistanis alone will soon have enough subs to pose a serious threat to Indian warships and carriers. How many P8is does India have? Are 8 enough?

    More about Pakistan – they will soon start manufacturing Type-022s locally. A small number – even 10 Type-022s will pose a serious threat to Indian warships anywhere near the Pakistani coastline. India will not be able to blockade Pakistani ports in the event of hostilities. The Type-022 is a real game changer.

    Will 20 more 1000+ ton vessels by 2030 enough? 20 such vessels will cost $6 billion and can carry a total of 320 BrahMos missiles. A single Chinese warship carries 64 AShMs.

    India can build at least 150 missile boats – each armed with 8 BrahMos for the price of these 20 vessels. This includes the cost of the missiles. This makes a total of 1200 missiles, and 150 light, maneuverable boats. Which option deters potential opponents more?

    This isn’t exactly massive militarization. It’s simply extracting the most bang for one’s buck.

    Lastly, the Chinese will not hesitate to take out the BrahMos installations in the Andamans using long-range cruise missiles in the event of a Mallaca blockade. They won’t even hesitate to nuke the Andamans, if things don’t go their way. On the other hand, they will find it very hard to prevent a swarm of missile boats – supported by warships (and ideally a large number of small subs) – from blockading the strait.

    What do you say? Did I succeed in making you reconsider your position? 🙂

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    1. Nope. Not at all. Your argument has too many loopholes and many assumptions. Your thinking about war is too Hollywood like and very very far from practicality.

      You are suggesting that the Indians go to war for the points a,b,c,d,e,f. But the Indian Ocean is international waters and anyone can do as they please. The Indian navy doesn’t have a duty to harass Chinese warships and the thing about the Italian marines incident and fishermen abductions are no way connected to the discussion.

      India is going to acquire 6+4 Scorpenes, 6+6 subs in P-75I, lease 2 SSNs and build 6 SSNs. That’s more than enough to manage things in the Indian Ocean. I suggest you not to think of capability in terms of numbers and place more emphasis on actual capability, technology and tactics.

      Nuking the Andamans ? Seriously ? China isn’t stupid enough to go to war with India. Start understanding how naval systems work. Then you will understand what you say is far from reality. I won’t try to convince you anymore but your gross underestimation of the Indian navys capabilities apalls me. Any Brahmos deployed in the Andamans would be adequately covered by SAMs

      Any Chinese aggression will be in the SCS. They just want to show that they can deploy in the Indian Ocean and are emerging as a major naval power. India cannot counter this by using the same mass tactics like China 🙂

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  7. Four final points:

    1. No, I do not want the Indians to go to war at all. I am saying that a nation must build layers of deterrents in order to prevent a war. I am also saying that a nation’s international standing and prestige is severely dented by incidents such as a,b,c,d,e,f.

    2. That the Indian ocean is international waters is no argument. So is the SCS. Will the Chinese ever allow Indian hydrographic vessels to survey the waters there? What is the purpose of hydrographic vessels? To map the seabed so that submarine crews know what to expect. That is hostile action.

    3. And isn’t it India’s contention and public claim that the Indian ocean is India’s backyard? Can one allow hostiles to operate 22 km away from one’s financial capital?

    4. India’s problem is that its planners/strategists/leaders just don’t not GET China. Yes, Chinese aggression will BEGIN in the SCS. But China will NOT be content with merely the SCS and Taiwan. It will want to teach Japan an everlasting lesson. It wants vast amounts of territory from Russia. And can we forget India? China will not be content until it dismembers and fragments and humiliates India. The plans have been in motion for decades. Believing that Chinese designs are limited to the SCS is wishful thinking.

    Peace out.

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    1. Now Paratatva or whoever
      Many things are evident from your questions.
      That you are proving is not a mystery.
      And China can do this and can do that is all bullshit.
      It would have already done do if it had the guts.
      It tried its best on the northeast border but when confronted by the Indians Jawans their pants leaked.
      Again The IOR IS INDIANS BACKYARD AND THERE IS NO MYSTERY ABOUT IT.
      To the question about chinas capability it has improved but not that much that it can bully anybody.

      The Indians will make sure to equip the SCS nations with India’s Brahmos missiles yo which forget China even the US has no weapon yo counter. AND SOON EHRB THE BRAHMOS II HYPERSOBIC VERSIONsil come out only God can save serious Chinese if they even dream of doing something out of their reach.

      So chill and dream some reality.

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    2. Now Paratatva or whoever
      Many things are evident from your questions.
      That you are proChinese is not a mystery.
      And China can do this and can do that is all bullshit.
      It would have already done do if it had the guts.
      It tried its best on the northeast border but when confronted by the Indians Jawans their pants leaked.
      Again The IOR IS INDIANS BACKYARD AND THERE IS NO MYSTERY ABOUT IT.
      To the question about chinas capability it has improved but not that much that it can bully anybody.

      The Indians will make sure to equip the SCS nations with India’s Brahmos missiles to which forget China even the US has no weapon to counter. AND SOON THE BRAHMOS II HYPERSOBIC VERSION will come out only God can save stupid Chinese if they even dream of doing something out of their reach.

      So chill and dream some reality.

      Like

    3. Just wanted to answer to your points. For one, your overestimation of the Chinese capabilities and your under estimation of the Indian capabilities is shocking. For one, you go by the assumption that any Chinese actions will left unchallenged. But that is far from the truth. Any aggression against Japan will be answered in kind. You cannot ignore the fact that the Japanese Maritime Self defence Force is one of the most capable and most high tech naval forces in Asia. India also has a highly capable force. What you are also forgetting is the Indian geographic location. India sits right in the centre of the Indian Ocean region. It’s range and capability is not limited to naval assets but also air assets which it can deploy from peninsular India which can propagate power well into the Indian Ocean region. Remember this, air assets of the Indian Air Force like the Jaguar does have maritime role.

      India does not try to enforce it’s writ in the Indian Ocean region like what China does with the SCS. India is comfortable with other powers having a presence in the Indian Ocean region so long as that powers does not challenge or intrude into the Indian exclusive economic zone. But do not under estimate the capability of the Indian navy. The Indian navy fleet is in rapid transformation and in a few years we will see a young fleet with highly advanced ships comparable to the best in the world. India also has years of experience cooperating with western navies particularly American navy and is more experienced than PLAN. Hence it will not be that easy to take on the Indian navy.

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    4. Partava, NRP – the wise (and i mean it) and many do not agree with you.as they have there own reasons , but your estimation of Chinese mindset is not entirely in-accurate…As i recall an article in Chinese communist Party’s Newspaper (I did not read it , but indian media reported it )asking for Fragmentation of India so that ‘development’ may take at a quicker pace and exploitation due to caste based discrimination come to an end…..I am not a scholar of History , but those people who are playing china down are making the same mistake as British Prime Minister Lord Chamberlain did in 1936 when waving Munich agreement Paper saying he has brought the “Peace in our times” …China will certainly teach Japan a lesson , for they have inflicted a deep scar on Chinese psyche , by there brutal war,occupation and genocide…They will re-claim the the area Russia had taken by Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Treaty of Peking in 1860…At last they will move towards India by asking it to renounce Mac-Mohan Line as a Border ,which India will refuse , and china by engaging India from Multiple fronts will try to crush India…We Indians are known for fighting among our-self because of our several fault lines ,will certainly play into there Hands… Well who knows , may be we will checkmate , them may be we will for once stand united against a External aggressor,but last 1000 year history has little to show for our love for motherland and its heritage…

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  8. And I must also say that I am enjoying your website IMMENSELY. It is very well written, and your expertise in these matters is visible for all to see.

    I look forward to keep visiting and learning more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear NRP
    You have become one of my best liked authors on defence.
    Not only are your articles very well researched and detail oriented but are unbiased too.
    Pl keep up the good work.

    Like

  10. NRP,
    I have one question. You have stated that China will be introducing the Type-055 Destroyers. Does India have any plan to make such big destroyers of their own as a follow up to the upcoming Project-15B Visakhapatinam class? How do you think Visakhapatinam and Kolkata stand up to a big ship like the Type- 055? Would appreciate your opinion on this.

    Like

    1. The answer to your question would be that Indian defence research and production was largely concentrated with the public sector undertakings. The private sector was largely kept out of fear of leaking the technology. But the public sector is notorious for their inefficiency due to bureaucratic mismanagement and politicization which gave rise to a unproductive sector. Companies like HAL which has a long history of making aircrafts under license had failed to absorb the technology that would have laid the foundation for a strong industrial base long ago.

      The second reason was that India opted to do their own research and develop a product from scratch. For such endeavors, the gestation period is long. Unlike China which can reverse engineer any product and get away with it, India is a signatory to various international agreements that obliges it to respect the patent and copyright to the parent company and country. If India violates the terms and does copy products from countries say America, India will be pulled into complicated international legal disputes that will see India cut a sorry figure and India will be forced to cough up huge amounts as compensation. It took India nearly three decades to build a solid foundation in R&D in the defence sector. Products like LCA Tejas and Arjun MBT has helped India develop the necessary infrastructure that will form the foundation for future projects. As India already has acquired the necessary experience and technology, the future will see India’s indigenous products emerging which will in par with the rest of the world.

      India previously had not allowed FDA in defence sector Further being a non signatory to agreements like MTCR, India was restricted from access to advanced technology. But now with India set to enter these agreements, the door is fully open for India to emerge as a world leader in defence technology.

      This is my opinion. But I feel NRP will be able to shed a professional view on this matter better and explain the real reasons better than me.

      Like

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