Skip to comments.China's navy no longer so inferior to Japan's, experts say
Posted on 07/29/2014 3:54:05 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
China's loss of the first Sino-Japanese war has been attributed to a disorganised navy. Although the northern fleet equalled, some say exceeded, the Meiji navy in terms of firepower, it was annihilated because it lacked coordination among its military units.
Today while Japan's navy may have a qualitative advantage over China's, the People's Liberation Army is catching up, analysts say.
In sheer manpower, China has the upper hand, with Beijing putting the PLA Navy's strength at 235,000, or more than five times the number in the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force.
But the Japanese navy has being training with modern warfare strategies, and with different units, for decades, according to Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong.
"PLA units are still exploring new ways to operate jointly, which could lead to merging their different weapon systems together," Wong said.
Toshi Yoshihara, an associate professor at the US Naval War College, said that although the Japanese navy was still superior in technological sophistication and experience, China was catching up quickly.
"China is out-building Japan virtually across the board," Yoshihara said.
He said the PLA Navy was deploying modern destroyers, frigates, fast-attack craft and submarines. "Japan is already having trouble keeping pace with this level of Chinese output."
As so many Chinese warships had entered production, adding mass and balance on the fleet, Japan could no longer rely on its qualitative advantage, Yoshihara said.
But a deciding factor would be the support of the US Navy. "The US-Japanese alliance is essential to weighing the overall naval balance," he said.
China might even have the edge now, according to Dr Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute under the US Naval War College.
"In my opinion, the forces are quite evenly matched now, but China may even have pulled ahead in recent years," Goldstein said. He added that this was not the official assessment of the US Navy.
Japan last year formally unveiled the biggest warship in its fleet since the second world war - the Izumo-class helicopter destroyer.
The 248-metre ship, due to enter service next year, is designed to carry 14 helicopters, and complements Japan's two serving Hyuga-class helicopter destroyers, which are 197 metres long and can accommodate 11 helicopters.
Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong said the helicopter destroyers could function as aircraft carriers for US planes, while China had only one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, although observers say more are in the works.
China required nearly 10 years to convert the 67,500-ton Soviet-built Varyag into the Liaoning. It was formally delivered to the PLA in September 2012, and so far has been used for training.
"But Japan's helicopter carriers have been battle-ready for more than three decades with the help of the United States," Ni said. "Every one of its carriers is able to operate independently in combat."
Japan also enjoys an advantage in submarines, according to Wong. The PLA's existing submarines, many of which are old models, have been criticised by Western forces as "too noisy and too easily detected", while Japan has some of the most technologically advanced diesel-electric submarines in the world.
"The gap between the two countries' military capability, especially in hardware, has been narrowed, as Beijing has made a priority of boosting defence spending since it began double-digit growth in the early 1990s."
In March, Beijing said the annual budget for the military would by 808.2 billion yuan (HK$1.02 trillion), a 12.2 per cent increase over last year, and slightly higher than the average 10 per cent increase.
"On the software side, there is still a huge gap," Wong said.
"The PLA needs more time to catch up."
Japan needs to modernize by going unmanned robotic. Much smaller nuclear powered units that can operate autonomously. (Yeah, I see the negatives, but Japan will never be able to match China any other way.)
Fast becoming a blue-water navy. So much so, that China could soon be challenging the Navy of the territory once known as “the United States of America” for supremacy of the seas.
One of the things the presence of the British Navy, and later the US Navy, did very well, was to assure the capability of commerce everywhere to freely cross oceans and approach ports without fear of piracy on the high seas or hostility at the destination.
If the purpose of the Chinese Navy were to assure its capability to deliver commercial interests to destinations wherever they went, that would be one thing. But if the purpose is to suppress the capabilities of other navies to defend and support the commerce of their home countries, that changes the game and outcomes considerably.
Nobody should rest their hopes on the demonstrated altruism of the People’s Republic of China, or trust their ambitions will not be all-consuming and lead to domination through the exertion of force.
But with Zero's US leadership, Japan had better find another deciding factor. Obama can be counted on to do whatever hurts the US and its allies the most.
I’ve been to China a few times—not impressed. Their “new” buildings start falling apart almost immediately. And, contrary to popular opinion, they tend to be very disorganized. In many ways they are the opposite of the Japanese. I think the Japanese probably have a few tricks up their sleeve and would clean their clock.
Number of warships over 8000 tonnes:
Thank You, for the post/information/graphics.
Everyone is talking about the Russian bear flexing it’s muscles etc.. etc.. However, I think that Putin has overplayed his hand. Within five years all of these countries that have come to depend on his oil and gas will have divirsified (We’ll be shipping them LNG by then). He is as much dependent on Western Europe as they are on him. He will be brought to heel and all of those eastern Europe countries will be thrown into the arms of Western Europe and NATO.
The real danger we should be looking at is China. China wants to dominate the far east. We have to show leadership here, instead we are cutting our Navy. It’s one thing to cut the Army during relative peace. That can be built up relatively quickly. However, our forces used for projection of power (the Air Force and the Navy) need to be maintained for peace and security in that region and throughout the world. Close down overseas Army bases, but keep the overseas Air Force bases and Naval Bases.
Thing is, China and Japan won’t go toe to toe. The US, South Korea, Australia and probably Taiwan and possibly India will be involved.
In fact, people should really consider that a lot of China’s naval expansion is really aimed at keeping parity with India.
Japanese islands: 6852 (Wikipedia)
They don’t move very fast but they’re real hard to sink.
meanwhile... we’re doing everything we can to reduce all our forces
Numbers of ships is just that,,,numbers.
China has almost no history of operating modern warships, They have untested ships and crews,
IMHO their weakest point would be damage control...you don’t learn those skills overnight or out of a book.
I would think that the Japanese would be facing a target rich environment.
Japan is doing big things with drones - given the ranges in question I see that as a game changer in the regional naval theater.
Of interest is that the ChiComs/PLAN are participating in RIMPAC this year. Four ships. On is a hospital ship, I assume a second is an oiler, not sure about the other two.
It is not ships but sailors who win naval engagements. China has less of a naval tradition than the Japanese who have less of a naval tradition than the Americans or British.
Comparing Helicopter carriers to fixed wing carriers is a huge mistake. Fixed wing carriers are an order of magnitude more lethal.
The PLAAN needs an E-2 type AWACS, which I presume the will soon unveil.
VTOL F-35s would help close the gap, but would still be inferior to strike capability of Su-27 derivatives.