Looking at some of the comments, it seems there are a lot of people in this country that still think of the Chinese Military as a backward and behind-the-times entity.
They couldn’t be farther from the truth. While they survived for years taking delivery of Russian systems, they have been steadily working out how to copy, produce and improve them. Their incursions into our universities, our government and other commercially oriented technology in compters and solid state electronic devices haven’t been wasted.
They have very capable fighters that will outnumber ours significantly, they have Carrier Killer Ballistic Missile Systems (google it) that can make that multi-billion dollar US carrier group impotent.
Add this to a conventional military force that vastly outnumbers ours in soldiers and equipment and you have a real potential for getting our ass kicked, Obama’s probably surrender notwithstanding.
Do any of these bravado hawks out there oblivious to the facts think that Shengzen has ONLY been cranking out iPods, iPads, and iPhones?
If they kill us, who’s going to buy all their junk?
Don’t forget India as a counterweight to China. We may be somewhat oblivious to China. India isn’t.
They are a VERY hard working and dedicated people and they have more gifted students than we have students.
We lost our last advantage (self government) in the last election.
Our only hope is that our machines are better than their machines...
IMHO your assessment is the opposite end of the ones who think the PLA is backward because it puts too much credit in Chinese military might. Forty percent of the PLAAF is modern out of the 2000 combat aircraft. The remaining are MiG21 and F-8 (equal to an upgraded F-4 Phamtom) and older. Her front line aircraft are J-11/Su-27’s (about 200) and J-10A (about 300) plus 300 H-6 bombers and JH-7 fighterbombers. US has about 2000 combat aircrafts (AF, Navy, USMC) and the oldest is the F-16 and F/A-18 which are about equal to the J-10. We have stealth and the PLAAF is just starting to fly prototypes with conventional nozzle engines (US stealth has vector thrust engines). China still relies on Russia for fighter and jet transport engines. China has master avionics, fly by wire, airframe but she has not been successful in building a domestic state of the art jet engine with good thrust (affects bomb load per sortie), fuel consumption (range) and durability (how many hours of use before engine must be replaced - logistics and life cycle cost). China’s navy has the same problem. Her largest ships are destroyers of whom one third are 1960’s copy of Soviet ships plus four 1980’s Soviet destroyers . The rest are technology iterations of 2 ships starting with 1980’s technologies (British Type 42 Sheffield) to now. Of the 30 or so destroyers, only four Type 52C and two Type 51C have true AA missile, but the Type 52C is network capable (can link radar/sensor data to and from aircraft and ground forces). All US warships and noncombat ships can do this, Chinese ships cannot. China is just starting to build the Type 52D destroyers that are equal to the US Arleigh Burke Agesis destroyers. Experts project 12 will be built. China has mastered hull, propulsion, shipboard radar and sensor, and shipyard capacity to build the numbers needed, but are just starting to develop network capable ships. Next decade China will be rapidly producing ships as capable as US ships, but her problem is getting her crews trained and what to do with the relatively new ships that are already obsolete along with the Cold War destroyers still in her fleet. The older ships will be replaced, the outdated newer ships cannot just be thrown away. In other words the PLAN has transition and cost issues to wrestle with.
The biggest weakness to the PLA, PLAAF, and PLAN is lack of combat experience. The other hidden unknown is Chinese industry is know for their corner cutting practices. Chinese military hardware were never put to the test under wartime conditions. How many missiles will work and not work during combat? Despite the costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, US forces are one of the most combat experience force. Our equipment have been tested and improved. This is something that Chinese military must factor in any military move. Unlike the Japanese in WW2 who see Americans as lazy and weak people who would fold in a war of attrition, the PLA and government leaders know that the US will be the most powerful nation China ever fought with.
China main weapon as an emerging power is financial. China has $ 2600 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, while the US has only $ 150 trillion. China arrives in nations to trade, the US arrives and lectures nations on how they behave internally. That is why many emerging nations like to deal with China then US. Example of Chinese use of financial power. Pro Tibet movement operates in India. They had made public protest at the Indian Chines border. Lately China had made trade agreements with India on pharma production. The contracts were substantial and lucrative for India. Today the Pro Tibet movement is kept from the Tibet border in India. What happen? Money talks and BS walks. China understands this and will use it.
IMHO China does not need to attack US like Japan did in Pearl Harbor. She will take her time to modernize and expand her military and space program. She has no overseas entanglements and pressing military needs to meet like the US does. With the US being reckless on spending, our military must make cutbacks. US financial stupidity will sink our fleet without China firing a shot. I think on youtube there is a video of a Chinese professor teaching a class in the future. He tells his students that Americans work for China and proceeds to tell how the US screwed up with debt. I think that is how China will challenge the US in the 21st Century.
On the plus side they’ve agreed to keep selling us high tech parts for our military equipment. Full of wonderful little microcontrollers and lots of flash memory. And if one breaks you can send it back to them and they’ll send a new one. And keep the old one. The one chock full of flash memory.