Order Code RL33153
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S.
Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for
November 18, 2005
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy
Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress
Concern has grown in Congress and elsewhere about China’s military
modernization. The topic is an increasing factor in discussions over future required
U.S. Navy capabilities. The issue for Congress addressed in this report is: How
should China’s military modernization be factored into decisions about U.S. Navy
Several elements of China’s military modernization have potential implications
for future required U.S. Navy capabilities. These include theater-range ballistic
missiles (TBMs), land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs), anti-ship cruise missiles
(ASCMs), surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), land-based aircraft, submarines, surface
combatants, amphibious ships, naval mines, nuclear weapons, and possibly highpower microwave (HPM) devices. China’s naval limitations or weaknesses include
capabilities for operating in waters more distant from China, joint operations, C4ISR
(command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance), long-range surveillance and targeting systems, anti-air warfare
(AAW), antisubmarine warfare (ASW), mine countermeasures (MCM), and logistics.
Observers believe a near-term focus of China’s military modernization is to field
a force that can succeed in a short-duration conflict with Taiwan and act as an antiaccess force to deter U.S. intervention or delay the arrival of U.S. forces, particularly
naval and air forces, in such a conflict. Some analysts speculate that China may
attain (or believe that it has attained) a capable maritime anti-access force, or
elements of it, by about 2010. Other observers believe this will happen later.
Potential broader or longer-term goals of China’s naval modernization include
asserting China’s regional military leadership and protecting China’s maritime
territorial, economic, and energy interests.
China’s naval modernization has potential implications for required U.S. Navy
capabilities in terms of preparing for a conflict in the Taiwan Strait area, maintaining
U.S. Navy presence and military influence in the Western Pacific, and countering
Chinese ballistic missile submarines. Preparing for a conflict in the Taiwan Strait
area could place a premium on the following: on-station or early-arriving Navy
forces, capabilities for defeating China’s maritime anti-access forces, and capabilities
for operating in an environment that could be characterized by information warfare
and possibly electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and the use of nuclear weapons.
Certain options are available for improving U.S. Navy capabilities by 2010;
additional options, particularly in shipbuilding, can improve U.S. Navy capabilities
in subsequent years. China’s naval modernization raises potential issues for
Congress concerning the role of China in Department of Defense (DOD) and Navy
planning; the size of the Navy; the Pacific Fleet’s share of the Navy; forward
homeporting of Navy ships in the Western Pacific; the number of aircraft carriers,
submarines, and ASW-capable platforms; Navy missile defense, air-warfare, AAW,
ASW, and mine warfare programs; Navy computer network security; and EMP
hardening of Navy systems. This report will be updated as events warrant.
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Congressional Concern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Issue for Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Scope of Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
China’s Naval Modernization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Maritime-Relevant Elements of China’s Military Modernization . . . . . 4
China’s Naval Limitations and Weaknesses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Goals or Significance of China’s Naval Modernization . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Potential Implications for Required U.S. Navy Capabilities . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Capabilities for Taiwan Strait Crisis or Conflict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Capabilities for Maintaining Regional Presence and Influence . . . . . . 36
Capabilities for Tracking and Countering PLA SSBNs . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Potential Oversight Issues For Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
China as a Defense-Planning Priority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
DOD Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Navy Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Navy Force Structure and Basing Arrangements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Size of the Fleet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Division of Fleet Between Atlantic and Pacific . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Forward Homeporting in the Western Pacific . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Number of Aircraft Carriers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Number of Attack Submarines (SSNs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
ASW-Capable Ships and Aircraft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Navy Warfare Areas and Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Missile Defense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Air Warfare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Mine Warfare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Computer Network Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
EMP Hardening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Appendix A: Additional Details on China’s Naval Modernization Efforts . . . . 62
List of Tables
PLA Navy Submarine Commissionings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
New PLA Navy Destroyer Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
New PLA Navy Frigate Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Potential Ship Travel Times to Taiwan Strait Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
China Naval Modernization: Implications for
U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and
Issues for Congress
Concern has grown in Congress and elsewhere since the 1990s about China’s
military modernization and its potential implications for required U.S. military
capabilities. China’s military modernization is an increasing element in discussions
of future U.S. Navy requirements. Department of Defense (DOD) officials such as
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, uniformed U.S. military leaders, Members
of Congress, and defense industry representatives have all expressed concern. A May
2005 press report, for example, states that
China is one of the central issues, along with terrorism and weapons of mass
destruction, in the U.S. military’s 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, a
congressionally directed study of military plans.... [W]hen the chief of naval
operations, Adm. Vern Clark, held a classified briefing for congressional defense
committees earlier this month about threats, his focus was “mainly” on China,
about which he is “gravely concerned,” recalled John W. Warner, the Virginia
Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee....
China has come up repeatedly in congressional debate over the size of the Navy.
The 288-ship fleet of today is half the size it was three decades ago. “You never
want to broadcast to the world that something’s insufficient,” Warner says, “but
clearly China poses a challenge to the sizing of the U.S. Navy.”1
John M. Donnelly, “China On Course To Be Pentagon’s Next Worry,” CQ Weekly, May
2, 2005, p. 1126. See also Anne Plummer, “Republican Senators Concerned About Timing
Of Nay Force Reduction Plans,” CQ Today, March 9, 2005. The American Shipbuilding
Association, which represents the six U.S. shipyards that build the Navy’s larger warships,
states that a very ominous potential threat is building on the horizon. China has been
officially modernizing its military for two-and-a-half decades. By 2010, China’s submarine
force will be nearly double the size of the U.S. submarine fleet. The entire Chinese naval
fleet is projected to surpass the size of the U.S. fleet by 2015. In short, the Chinese military
is specifically being configured to rival America’s Sea Power. (Web page of the American
Shipbuilding Association, located at [http://www.americanshipbuilding.com/]. Underlining
as in the original.) See also Statement of Ms. Cynthia L. Brown, President, American
Shipbuilding Association, Presented by Ms. Amy Praeger, Director of Legislative Affairs,
Before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission On U.S.-China Trade
Impacts on the Defense Industrial Base, June 23, 2005.
Issue for Congress
The issue for Congress addressed in this report is: How should China’s military
modernization be factored into decisions about U.S. Navy programs? Congress’
decisions on this issue could significantly affect future U.S. Navy capabilities, U.S.
Navy funding requirements, and the U.S. defense industrial base, including the
Scope of Report
This report focuses on the implications that certain elements of China’s military
modernization may have for future required U.S. Navy capabilities. It does not
discuss the following:
other elements of China’s military modernization that may be less
relevant to future required U.S. Navy capabilities;
the potential implications of China’s military modernization for
— parts of DOD other than the Navy, such as the Air Force and the Missile
— federal agencies other than DOD, such as the Department of State, and
— countries other than the United States, such as Taiwan, Russia, Japan,
South Korea, the Philippines, the countries of Southeast Asia, Australia,
India, and (through issues such as arms sales) countries such as Israel and
U.S. allies in Europe; and
China’s foreign or economic policy, U.S. defense policy toward
Taiwan, or the political likelihood of a military conflict involving
China and the United States over Taiwan or some other issue.
Other CRS reports address some of these issues.2
See, for example, CRS Report RL31555, China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass
Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues , by Shirley A. Kan; CRS Report 98-485, China:
Possible Missile Technology Transfers Under U.S. Satellite Export Policy — Actions and
Chronology, by Shirley A. Kan; CRS Report RL33001, U.S.-China Counter-Terrorism
Cooperation: Issues for U.S. Policy , by Shirley Kan; CRS Report RL32496, U.S.-China
Military Contacts: Issues for Congress, by Shirley Kan; CRS Report RL30427, Missile
Survey: Ballistic and Cruise Missiles of Selected Foreign Countries, by Andrew Feickert;
CRS Report RL32870, European Union’s Arms Embargo on China: Implications and
Options for U.S. Policy, by Kristin Archick, Richard F. Grimmett, and Shirley Kan; CRS
Report RL30341, China/Taiwan: Evolution of the ‘One China’ Policy — Key Statements
from Washington, Beijing, and Taipei, by Shirley A. Kan; CRS Report RL32804,
China-U.S. Relations: Current Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy, by Kerry Dumbaugh;
CRS Report RL30957, Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990, by Shirley A. Kan; CRS
Issue Brief IB91121, China-U.S. Trade Issues, by Wayne W. Morrison; CRS Report
RL32882, The Rise of China and Its Effect on Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea: U.S. Policy
Choices, by Dick K. Nanto and Emma Chanlett-Avery; CRS Report RL32688,
China-Southeast Asia Relations: Trends, Issues, and Implications for the United States, by
For convenience, this report uses the term China’s naval modernization, even
though some of the military modernization efforts that could affect required U.S.
Navy capabilities are occurring in other parts of China’s military, such as the air force
or the missile force.
China’s military is formally called the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA. Its
navy is called the PLA Navy, or PLAN, and its air force is called the PLA Air Force,
or PLAAF. The PLA Navy includes an air component that is called the PLA Naval
Air Force, or PLANAF. China refers to its ballistic missile force as the Second
Sources of information for this report, all of which are unclassified, include the
the 2005 edition of DOD’s annual report to Congress on China’s
the 2004 edition of Worldwide Maritime Challenges, a publication
of the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI);4
China’s 2004 defense white paper;5
the prepared statements and transcript of a July 27, 2005, hearing on
China grand strategy and military modernization before the House
Armed Services Committee;6
the prepared statements for a September 15, 2005, hearing on
China’s military modernization and the cross-strait balance before
the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, an
advisory body created by the FY2001 defense authorization act (P.L.
106-398) and subsequent legislation,7 and the prepared statements
U.S. Department of Defense, Annual Report To Congress [on] The Military Power of the
People’s Republic of China, 2005. Washington, Office of the Secretary of Defense, released
July 2005. (Hereafter cited as 2005 DOD CMP.)
U.S. Department of the Navy, Worldwide Maritime Challenges 2004, Washington,
prepared by the Office of Naval Intelligence. (Hereafter cited as 2004 ONI WMC.)
The white paper is entitled China’s National Defense in 2004. (Hereafter cited as 2004
China White Paper.) The English-language text of the white paper can be found on the
Internet at [http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/china/doctrine/natdef2004.html].
Transcript hereafter cited as 7/27/05 HASC hearing.
Hereafter cited as 9/15/05 USCC hearing. The Commission’s website, which includes this
and other past hearings, is at [http://www.uscc.gov].
and published transcript of a similar hearing before the commission
on February 6, 2004;8
a 2003 report on China’s military power by an independent task
force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations; 9
open-source military reference sources such as the Jane’s
Information Group; and
news articles, including articles from the defense trade press.
China’s Naval Modernization
Maritime-Relevant Elements of China’s Military Modernization10.
This section summarizes elements of China’s military modernization that may have
potential implications for required U.S. Navy capabilities. See Appendix A for
additional details and commentary on several of these modernization activities.
Theater-Range Ballistic Missiles (TBMs). One of the most prominent
elements of China’s military modernization has been the deployment of large
numbers of theater-range ballistic missiles (TBMs) 11 capable of attacking targets in
Taiwan or other regional locations, such as Japan. 12 Among these are CSS-6 and
CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) deployed in locations across from
Taiwan. DOD states that China as of 2005 has deployed 650 to 730 CSS-6 and CSS7 TBMs, and that this total is increasing at a rate of about 100 missiles per year.13
Hearing On Military Modernization and Cross-Strait Balance, Hearing Before the U.S.China Economic and Security Review Commission, February 6, 2004. Washington, U.S.
Govt. Print. Off., 2004. (Hereafter cited as 2/6/04 USCC hearing. )
Chinese Military Power, Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by the Council
on Foreign Relations Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies. Washington,
2003. (Harold Brown, Chair, Joseph W. Prueher, Vice Chair, Adam Segal, Project Director)
(Hereafter cited as 2003 CFR task force report.)
Unless otherwise indicated, shipbuilding program information in this section is taken from
Jane’s Fighting Ships 2005-2006. Other sources of information on these shipbuilding
programs may disagree regarding projected ship commissioning dates or other details, but
sources present similar overall pictures regarding PLA Navy shipbuilding.
Depending on their ranges, TBMs can be divided into short-, medium-, and intermediaterange ballistic missiles (SRBMs, MRBMs, and IRBMs, respectively).
ONI states that “China is developing TBM systems with sufficient range to threaten U.S.
forces throughout the region, to include [those] in Japan.” (2004 ONI WMC, p. 20.)
2005 DOD CMP, p. 4. See also China’s Military Power: An Assessment From Open
Sources, Testimony of Richard D. Fisher, Jr., International Assessment and Strategy Center,
Before the House Armed Services Committee, July 27, 2005, p. 9. (Hereafter cited as
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony.)
Although ballistic missiles in the past have traditionally been used to attack
fixed targets on land, observers believe China may now be developing TBMs
equipped with maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRVs). Observers have expressed
strong concern about this potential development, because such missiles, in
combination with a broad-area maritime surveillance and targeting system, 14 would
permit China to attack moving U.S. Navy ships at sea. The U.S. Navy has not
previously faced a threat from highly accurate ballistic missiles capable of hitting
moving ships at sea. Due to their ability to change course, MaRVs would be more
difficult to intercept than non-maneuvering ballistic missile reentry vehicles.
According to one press report, “navy officials project [that such missiles] could be
capable of targeting US warships from sometime around 2015.” 15
Land-Attack Cruise Missiles (LACMs). China is developing land-attack
cruise missiles (LACMs) that can be fired from land bases, land-based aircraft, or
Navy platforms such as submarines to attack targets, including air and naval bases,
in Taiwan or other regional locations, such as Japan or Guam. The U.S. Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) states: “We judge that by 2015, [China] will have
hundreds of highly accurate air- and ground-launched LACMs.”16
Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs). China is modernizing its extensive
inventory of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), which can be launched from landbased strike fighters and bombers, surface combatants, submarines and possibly
shore-based launchers. Among the most capable of the new ASCMs being acquired
by the PLA Navy is the Russian-made SS-N-27 Sizzler, a highly dangerous ASCM
that is to be carried by eight new Kilo-class submarines that China has purchased
from Russia (see section below on submarines).
Surface-To-Air Missiles (SAMs). China is deploying modern surface-to-air
missile (SAM) systems across from Taiwan, including long-range and high-altitude
systems that have an advertised range sufficient to cover the entire Taiwan Strait,
which is roughly 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers) wide. Advanced SAMs may
have some effectiveness against stealthy aircraft. Longer- and shorter- range SAM
systems deployed along China’s coast opposite Taiwan would in combination give
DOD stated in 2002: “China’s procurement of new space systems, airborne early warning
aircraft and long-range UAV, and over-the-horizon radar will enhance its ability to detect,
monitor, and target naval activity in the Western Pacific Ocean. China may have as many
as three over-the-horizon (OTH) sky-wave radar systems, which China aspires to use against
aircraft carriers.” (Department of Defense, Annual Report On The Military Power of the
People’s Republic Of China, 2002. Washington, 2002, released July 2002. pp. 4-5. See
also pp. 28-29.)
Yihong Chang and Andrew Koch, “Is China Building A Carrier?” Jane’s Defence Weekly,
August 17, 2005.
Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States, Vice Admiral
Lowell E. Jacoby, U.S. Navy, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, Statement for the
Record [before the] Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 16 February 2005, p. 13. See
also Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States, Vice Admiral
Lowell E. Jacoby, U.S. Navy, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, Statement For the
Record [before the] Senate Armed Services Committee, 17 March 2005, p. 13.
China a multilayer defense against enemy aircraft seeking to operate over the Strait
or approach that portion of China’s coast.17
Land-Based Aircraft. China is introducing increasing numbers of modern
and capable (so-called fourth-generation) fighters and strike fighters into the PLA Air
Force and PLA Naval Air Force. These include Russian-made Su-27s and Su-30s
and indigenously produced FB-7s, F-10s, and F-11s. At least some of the strike
fighters will be armed with modern ASCMs. China is also upgrading the ASCMs
carried by its land-based maritime bombers. The effectiveness of China’s combat
aircraft could be enhanced by new support aircraft, including tankers and airborne
warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft.
Submarines. China’s submarine modernization effort has attracted
substantial attention and concern. 18 The effort currently involves the simultaneous
acquisition of at least five classes of submarines, making it, in terms of number of
designs involved, one of the more ambitious submarine-acquisition efforts on record
by any country. China is taking delivery on eight Russian-made Kilo-class nonnuclear-powered attack submarines (SSs) that are in addition to four Kilos that China
purchased from Russia in the 1990s,19 and is building four other classes of
submarines, including the following:
a new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) design
called the Type 094;
a new nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN) design called the
Shang class or Type 093;
a new SS design called the Yuan class or Type 041; and
another (and also fairly new) SS design called the Song class or
These five classes of submarines are expected to be much more modern and
capable than China’s aging older-generation submarines.
As shown in Table 1, China commissioned one to three new submarines per
year between 1995 and 2003. Observers project that 11 new submarines (including
six Kilos) will be commissioned in 2005, and five or more new submarines
(including two Kilos) will be commissioned in 2006. The projected total of 11 new
See the map entitled “SAM Area Coverage Circles,” in 2004 ONI WMC, p. 29.
For a detailed discussion of China’s submarine modernization program and a strong
expression of concern regarding the implications of this effort for Taiwan and the United
States, see the statement of Lyle J. Goldstein as printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, pp. 129156. Goldstein’s written statement was also published as a journal article; see Lyle
Goldstein and William Murray, “Undersea Dragons, China’s Maturing Submarine Force,”
International Security, spring 2004, pp. 161-196.
A previous CRS report discussed these four Kilo-class boats at length. See CRS Report
RL30700, China’s Foreign Conventional Arms Acquisitions: Background and Analysis, by
Shirley Kan (Coordinator), Christopher Bolkcom, and Ronald O’Rourke.
submarines in 2004 appears to be a spike produced in part by the projected delivery
that year of the six Russian-made Kilos.20
Table 1. PLA Navy Submarine Commissionings
Actual (1995-2004) and Projected (2005-2010)
Source: Jane’s Fighting Ships 2005-2006, and previous editions.
a. Figures for Ming-class boats are when the boats were launched (i.e., put into the water for final
construction). Actual commissioning dates for these boats may have been later.
b. Construction of a third ship may have started.
c. Additional units are expected, perhaps at two-year intervals.
n/a = data not available.
PLA Navy submarines are armed with one or more of the following: ASCMs,
wire-guided and wake-homing torpedoes, and mines.21 Although ASCMs are often
ONI states that all eight Kilo-class boats are scheduled for delivery by 2005. (2004 ONI
WMC, p. 12.) Some other sources project that the final boat or boats will be delivered by
There are also reports that the Kilos might also be armed with the Shkval, a Russian-made,
supercavitating, high-speed torpedo, and that China might be building its own
supercavitating torpedoes. (Statement of Lyle J. Goldstein as printed in 2/6/04 USCC
hearing, p. 139.) A supercavitating torpedo surrounds itself with an envelope of gas
bubbles, which dramatically reduces its resistance as it moves through the water, thereby
permitting very high underwater speeds. The Shkval has a reported speed of 200 knots or
highlighted as sources of concern, wake-homing torpedoes can also be very difficult
for surface ships to counter. In addition to some combination of ASCMs, torpedoes,
and mines, Type 094 SSBNs will carry a new type of submarine-launched ballistic
missile (SLBM), and Shang-class SSNs may carry LACMs.
China’s submarine modernization effort is producing a substantially more
modern and capable submarine force. As shown in Table 1, observers expect China
to have a total of 28 Shang, Kilo, Yuan, and Song class submarines in commission
by the end of 2006.
Although China’s aging Ming- and Romeo-class submarines are based on old
technology and are much less capable than the PLA Navy’s newer-design
submarines, China may decide that these older boats have continued value as
minelayers or as bait or decoy submarines that can be used to draw out enemy
submarines (such as U.S. SSNs) that can then be attacked by more modern PLA
ONI states that “Chinese diesel submarine force levels are stabilizing as quality
replaces quantity,” and has published a graph accompanying this statement
suggesting that the figure may stabilize at a level between 25 and 50. 23
Another observer states that by 2010,
the PLA Navy could take delivery of over 20 new domestic SONG A and
YUAN-class conventional submarines, 12 Russian KILO-877/636/636M
conventional submarines, and five or more new indigenous Type 093 nuclear
attack submarines (SSNs) — the third Type 093 is now under construction. In
addition, the PLAN could retain up to 20 older Type 035 MING-class
conventional [attack submarines] and about 4 older Type 091 HAN-class SSNs.
This raises the prospect by 2010 of a Chinese fleet of over 50 modern-tomoderate [sic] attack submarines capable of engaging Taiwan, U.S. and Japanese
naval forces. 24
One observer states that
older and less sophisticated submarines will likely be employed to screen the
higher-value assets. Chinese sources openly describe using certain submarines
as “bait.” Employing this tactic, it is conceivable that United States submarines
could reveal their own presence to lurking Kilos by executing attacks against
nuisance Mings and Romeos. No wonder China continues to operate the
vessels, which are widely derided as obsolete by Western observers. The threat
from these older submarines cannot be dismissed out of hand. Informal United
States Navy testimony suggests that the PLAN can operate the older classes of
diesel submarines with surprising tactical efficiency. (Statement of Lyle J.
Goldstein as printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, p. 153)
2004 ONI WMC, p. 11. The range of 25 to 50 is based on visual inspection of the graph.
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 11. On page 4, Fisher similarly states “It can be estimated
that by 2010 the PLA Navy could have 50 to 60 nuclear and new conventional attack
A separate observer states:
China has been investing heavily in submarines which it sees as the poisoned
arrow (Shashou jian) to the Achilles Heel of American naval might....
By my count, China will have a net gain of 35 submarines over the next 15
years, with no production slow-down in sight. It is reasonable to assume that at
current production levels, China will likely out-produce our shipyards and its
submarines could out-number our submarines in the next 15 years. By 2020, the
Chinese submarine fleet could boast nearly 50 modern attack boats....
[The 2005 DOD report on China’s military power] has catalogued a list of
China’s foreign weapons and military systems acquisitions, but in my mind none
is as worrisome as the expansion of the PLA Navy’s submarine fleet. China has
identified America’s strategic center as its maritime predominance, and its sub
fleet is clearly designed to overcome U.S. supremacy at sea. 25
One more observer states that:
the PLA Navy now has the capability to make the antisubmarine warfare (ASW)
mission very difficult for U.S. forces. With a total of more than 50 operational
submarines, and with a substantial number of them new and quiet, China, quite
simply, can put to sea more submarines than the U.S. Navy can locate and
counter. Its older Ming and Romeo submarines are not only still lethal if ignored
but also serve to disperse and dilute the efforts of the ASW forces. In other
words, some, or even many, of the already large and diverse, but still rapidly
growing, fleet of very capable Shang SSNs, and Kilo, Song, and Yuan SSs can
reasonably expect to remain undetected as they seek to interdict the U.S. carrier
strike groups. If the “shooting has started,” eventually U.S. ASW forces could
take a big toll against the Chinese submarine force, but the delay in sanitizing the
area before the entry of carrier strike groups is what the Chinese are counting on
as adequate delay to present the world with the aforementioned fait accompli
with respect to Taiwan. 26
Yet one more observer states:
Evidence suggests that China is seeking to become a first-class submarine
power. While the PLAN modernization shows impressive breadth with major
new purchases of naval aircraft and surface combatants, submarines appear to be
the centerpiece of China’s strategic reorientation toward the sea. The May 2002
contract for eight additional Kilos, the likely continuation of the Song program,
China’s Military Power, Testimony of John J. Tkacik, Jr., Senior Research Fellow in
Asian Studies, The Heritage Foundation, Before the Committee on Armed Services, United
States House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., July 27, 2005. p. 8. (Hereafter cited
as Tkacik 7/27/05 testimony.)
[Statement of] Rear Admiral (U.S. Navy, Retired) Eric A. McVadon, Director of AsiaPacific Studies, Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Consultant on East Asia Security
Affairs, Before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, [regarding]
Recent Trends in China’s Military Modernization, 15 September 2005, p. 5. (Hereafter
cited as McVadon 9/15/05 testimony.) The fait accompli mentioned at the end of the quote
is discussed later in this report.
and nuclear force modernization, taken together with the evident new priority on
training, technological research and doctrinal development all suggest that
Beijing recognizes the value of submarines as a potent, asymmetric answer to
United States maritime superiority. The recent ascendance of a submariner,
Adm. Zhang Dingfa, to the position of commanding officer of the PLAN
underlines these tendencies. Further investments in diesel submarines,
particularly when enhanced by air independent propulsion, will afford Beijing
increasing near-term leverage in the East Asian littoral, while methodical nuclear
modernization signifies a long-term commitment to global power projection. As
one Chinese strategist recently observed, “The scale [of recent purchases]
indicates that in the coming years, China will build an offshore defense system
with submarines as the key point.”27
Aircraft Carriers. ONI states that “China’s interest in aircraft carriers has not
led it to build or purchase one, except as museums. Near-term focus on contingencies
in the vicinity of Taiwan has minimized the importance of aircraft carriers in China’s
acquisition plan, but research into the ships and associated aircraft likely
continues.”28 Another observer states that “while China is not yet believed to [be]
building an aircraft carrier, for many years, the PLA has been developing aircraft
carrier technologies. In early May  the PLA moved the former Ukrainian [i.e.,
former Soviet] carrier Varyag, in [China’s] Dalian harbor since early 2002, into a
drydock, suggesting it might soon serve a military role.”29
Surface Combatants. China since the early 1990s has purchased four
Sovremenny-class destroyers from Russia and deployed eight new classes of
indigenously built destroyers and frigates that demonstrate a significant
modernization of PLA Navy surface combatant technology. The introduction of
eight new destroyer and frigate designs over a period of about 15 years is an
undertaking with few parallels by any country in recent decades. China has also
deployed a new kind of fast attack craft that uses a stealthy catamaran hull design.
Sovremenny-Class Destroyers. China in 2002 ordered two Sovremennyclass destroyers from Russia. The ships, which reportedly are to be delivered in 2005
and 2006, are in addition to two Sovremenny-class destroyers that China ordered
from Russia in 1996 and which entered service in 1991 and 2001. Sovremenny-class
destroyers are equipped with the SS-N-22 Sunburn ASCM, another dangerous
ASCM. 30 The SS-N-22s on the two Sovremenny-class ships ordered in 2002 are
expected to be an improved version with a longer range. China reportedly has an
option for two more Sovremenny-class ships, which, if exercised, would make for
an eventual total of six ships. 31
Statement of Lyle J. Goldstein as printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, pp. 155-156.
2004 ONI WMC, p. 10.
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 4.
A previous CRS report discussed the PLA Navy’s first two Sovremenny-class destroyers
and their SS-N-22 ASCMs at length. See CRS Report RL30700, op cit.
ONI puts the potential number of additional ships at two or three. (2004 ONI WMC, p.
Five New Indigenously Built Destroyer Classes. China since the early
1990s has built five new classes of destroyers. Compared to China’s 16 older Luda
(Type 051) class destroyers, which entered service between 1971 and 1991, these five
new destroyer classes are substantially more modern in terms of their hull designs,
propulsion systems, sensors, weapons, and electronics. A key area of improvement
in the new destroyer designs is their anti-air warfare (AAW) technology, 32 which has
been a significant PLA Navy shortcoming. Like the older Luda-class destroyers,
these new destroyer classes are armed with ASCMs.
As shown in Table 2, China to date has commissioned only 1 or 2 ships in each
of these five classes, suggesting that a key purpose of at least some of these classes
may have been to serve as stepping stones in a plan to modernize the PLA Navy’s
surface combatant technology incrementally before committing to larger-scale series
production. If one or more of these designs are put into larger-scale production, it
would accelerate the modernization of China’s surface combatant force.
Table 2. New PLA Navy Destroyer Classes
In service (actual or
Source: Jane’s Fighting Ships 2005-2006.
n/a = data not available.
The Luhu-class ships reportedly were ordered in 1985 but had their
construction delayed by a decision to give priority to the construction of six frigates
that were ordered by Thailand. The Luhai-class ship is believed to have served as
the basis for the Luyang-class designs. Compared to the Luhai, the Luyang I-class
ships appear stealthier and are believed to feature an anti-air warfare (AAW) system
with a longer-ranged SAM.
The Luyang II-class ships appear to feature an even more capable AAW
system that includes a SAM called the HQ-9 that has an even longer range, a vertical
launch system (VLS), and a phased-array radar that is outwardly somewhat similar
to the SPY-1 radar used in the U.S.-made Aegis combat system. Indeed, the Luyang
II-class design bears some resemblance to U.S. and Japanese Aegis destroyers,
though they are probably not as modern or capable in some respects as the U.S. and
AAW is a term most frequently found in discussions of naval systems. Discussions of
systems in other military services tend to use the term air defense.
Japanese ships.33 The two Type 051C-class ships feature a VLS and a long-range
SAM, but in other respects might be less advanced in their design than the Luyang
II-class destroyers. They may have been designed earlier and had their construction
delayed. Even so, they are still relatively modern ships.
Three New Indigenously Built Frigate Classes. China since the early 1990s
has built three new classes of frigates that are more modern than China’s 31 older
Jianghu (Type 053) class frigates, which entered service between the mid-1970s and
1989. The three new frigate classes, like the new destroyer classes, feature improved
AAW capabilities. Unlike the new destroyer designs, the new frigate designs have
been put into larger-scale series production. Table 3 summarizes the three new
Table 3. New PLA Navy Frigate Classes
between 521 and 567
525, 526, n/a
Source: Jane’s Fighting Ships 2005-2006. n/a = data not available.
Construction of Jiangwei I-class ships appears to have ceased but observers
believe that construction of the Jiangwei II- and Jiangkai-class ships is continuing
and additional units beyond those shown in Table 3 are expected. The Jiangkai-class
ships feature a stealthy design that somewhat resembles France’s La Fayette-class
frigate, which first entered service in 1996. 34
New Class Of Fast Attack Craft. In addition to its 190 older fast attack craft
(including 37 armed with ASCMs), China in 2004 introduced a new type of ASCMarmed fast attack craft built on a stealthy, wave-piercing, catamaran hull that is one
of the more advanced hull designs used by any navy in the world today. Observers
believe the hull design is based on a design developed by a firm in Australia, a
For a detailed article about the Luyang II class, see James C. Bussert, “China Debuts
Aegis Destroyers,” Signal, July 2005, pp. 59-62. See also Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 12.
France sold a modified version of the La Fayette-class design to Taiwan; the six ships that
Taiwan built to the design entered service in 1996-1998. See also Fisher 7/27/05 testimony,
pp. 12-13. One observer views the Jiangwei II-class ships as roughly comparable to
France’s Georges Leygues-class destroyer design, which entered service in 1979, Italy’s
Maestrale-class frigate design, which entered service in 1982, and the UK’s Type 21
frigates, which entered service in starting in 1975 and were transferred to Pakistan in 19931994. (Massimo Annati, “China’s PLA Navy, The Revolution,” Naval Forces, No. 6, 2004,
country which is a world leader in high-speed catamaran designs. At least three of
these new fast attack craft are now in service, and additional units are expected. 35
Amphibious Ships. China is currently building three new classes of
amphibious ships and landing craft, all of which began construction in 2003. Each
type is being built at three or four shipyards. Between these three classes, China built
a total of 19 amphibious ships and 8 amphibious landing craft in 2003 and 2004.
Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Ships. China is building a new class of
mine countermeasures (MCM) ship, the first unit of which is expected to enter
service in 2005.
Naval Mines. Regarding naval mines, ONI states:
China is developing and exporting numerous advanced mines of all types. One
example is the wireless remote controlled EM57, a mine that offers many tactical
options. For example, the mine can be turned off and on remotely to prolong its
life, or it can be activated and deactivated to allow safe passage for friendly
DOD stated in 2003 that the PLA’s mines
include bottom and moored influence mines, mobile mines, remotely controlled
mines, command-detonated mines, and propelled-warhead mines. Use of
propelled-warhead mines in deep waters has the potential to deny enemy naval
formations large operational areas.37
DOD stated in 2002 that China “likely has enough mine warfare assets to lay a
good defensive and a modest offensive minefield using a wide variety of launch
Reference books do not show a name for this new class of attack craft, so the craft are
identified by their hull numbers. The first three ships carry numbers 2208-2210. See also
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 13; “PRC Appears Ready To Field New Trimaran Fast Missile
Warship,” Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, October 5, 2004; Yihong Chang, “First Sight
Of Chinese Catamaran,” Jane’s Defense Weekly, May 26, 2004.
2004 ONI WMC, p. 19.
U.S. Department of Defense, Annual Report On The Military Power of the People’s
Republic of China, 2003. Washington, Office of the Secretary of Defense, released July
2003. p. 27.
Department of Defense, Annual Report On The Military Power of the People’s Republic
Of China, 2002. Washington, 2002, released July 2002. p. 23. In 2000, DOD stated:
The PLAN’s mine stockpiles include vintage Russian moored-contact and bottom
influence mines, as well as an assortment of domestically built mines. China
currently produces the EM11 bottom-influence mine; the EM31 moored mine;
the EM32 moored influence mine; the EM52 rocket-propelled rising mine; and,
the EM-53 ship-laid bottom influence mine which is remotely controlled by a
shore station. China is believed to have available acoustically activated remote
control technology for its EM53. This technology probably could be used with
Another observer stated in a presentation that China has
a large inventory of mines. And we see a tremendous interest in some of the
most modern deadly mines going. These deep water rising mines [on the
projection screen] can be purchased from Russia. They have tremendous ability
to mine deeper waters where we would prefer to operate. So what we would
consider to have been a haven [for U.S. Navy ships] may no longer be a haven. 39
Information Warfare/Information Operations (IW/IO). China opensource writings demonstrate an interest in information warfare (IW), also called
information operations (IO), as an increasingly important element of warfare,
particularly against a sophisticated opposing force such as the U.S. military. Concern
about potential PLA IW/IO capabilities has been heightened by recent press reports
about attacks on U.S. computer systems that in some cases appear to have originated
in China. 40 One observer has stated that “China even now is planting viruses in U.S.
computer systems that they will activate” in the event of a military conflict with the
Nuclear Weapons. Although China is not necessarily modernizing its
nuclear weapon technology, it is worth noting that China, as a longstanding nuclear
weapon state, could put nuclear warheads on weapons such as TBMs, LACMs,
ASCMs, torpedoes, and naval mines. China could use nuclear-armed versions of
these weapons (except the LACMs) to attack U.S. Navy ships at sea. China might
do so in the belief that it could subsequently confuse the issue in the public arena of
whose nuclear warhead had detonated,42 or that the United States in any event would
other Chinese ship-laid mines including the EM52. Application of this
technology could allow entire mines to be laid in advance of hostilities in a
dormant position and activated or deactivated when required. China reportedly
has completed development of a mobile mine and may be producing improved
variants of Russian bottom mines and moored-influence mines. Over the next
decade, China likely will attempt to acquire advanced propelled-warhead mines,
as well as submarine-launched mobile bottom mines. (Department of Defense,
Annual Report On The Military Power of the People’s Republic Of China, 2000.
Washington, 2000. See the subsection on subsurface warfare.)
Statement of Lyle J. Goldstein as printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, p. 133. See also p.
See 2005 DOD CMP, p. 36; 2003 CFR task force report, pp. 55-56; Peter Brookes, “The
Art Of (Cyber) War, New York Post, August 29, 2005; Bradley Graham, “Hackers Attack
Via Chinese websites,” Washington Post, August 25, 2005: 1; Frank Tiboni, “The New
Trojan War,” Federal Computer Week, August 22, 2005: 60.
Eric McVadon, as quoted in Dave Ahearn, “U.S. Can’t Use Trade Imbalance To Avert
China Invasion Of Taiwan,” Defense Today, August 2, 2005, pp. 1-2.
Following the April 1, 2001, collision in international airspace off China’s coast of a U.S.
Navy EP-3 electronic surveillance aircraft and a PLA F-8 fighter, which many observers
believed was caused by reckless flying by the pilot of the F-8, China attempted to convince
others that the collision was caused by poor flying by the pilot of the slower-flying and less
maneuverable U.S. EP-3. For more on this event, see CRS Report RL30946, China-U.S.
Aircraft Collision Incident of April 2001: Assessments and Policy Implications, by Shirley
A. Kan, coordinator.
not escalate the conflict by retaliating with a nuclear attack on a land target in China.
During the Cold War, analysts debated whether the use of a Soviet nuclear weapon
against U.S. Navy ships during a conflict would lead to a U.S. nuclear response.
China could also use a nuclear-armed ballistic missile to detonate a nuclear
warhead in the atmosphere to create a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP)
intended to temporarily or permanently disable the electronic circuits of U.S. or other
civilian and military electronic systems. Some observers have expressed concern in
recent years over the potential vulnerability of U.S. military systems to EMP
High-Power Microwave (HPM) Weapons. Some observers are concerned
that China might develop or already possess high-power microwave (HPM) weapons,
also called radio frequency weapons (RFWs) or E-bombs, which are non-nuclear
devices that can be used to generate damaging EMP effects over relatively short
distances to disable the electronic circuits of nearby enemy civilian and military
systems. 44 In theory, an HPM weapon could be placed on a TBM or ASCM and fired
at a U.S. Navy ship. Although the effective EMP radius of such devices might be on
the order of only a few hundred yards,45 such devices could be used to attack
See CRS Report RL32544, High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power
Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments, by Clay Wilson; (Hereafter cited as CRS
Report RL32544.) and John S. Foster, Jr., et al., Report of the Commission to Assess the
Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, Volume 1: Executive
Report 2004. Washington, 2004, 53 pp. (Hereafter cited as 2004 EMP commission report.)
See also the transcripts and written statements of hearings on EMP held before the House
Armed Services Committee on July 22, 2004, and before the Military Research and
Development Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on October 7, 1999,
and July 16, 1997. (In 1997, the full committee was called the House National Security
For more on HPM weapons, see CRS Report RL32544.
One source states that “a 2,000-pound microwave munition will have a minimum radius
[of effect] of approximately 200 meters,” or roughly 650 feet. (“High-power microwave
(HPM)/E-Bomb,” available on the Internet at [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/
A second source says HPM weapons might have effective radii “on the order of hundreds
of meters, subject to weapon performance and target set electrical hardness.” (Section 4.1
of Carlo Kopp, “The Electromagnetic Bomb — a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction,”
available on the Internet at [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/
A third source states that “a small RF device might have a range measured in feet, while a
relatively large RF device might produce upset or damage in electronics systems at a range
measured in hundreds of feet, and interference at a range of hundreds of miles.” (Statement
of William R. Graham, Ph.D., before the Military Research and Development Subcommittee
of the House Armed Services Committee, October 7, 1999.)
individual U.S. Navy ships without the political or escalatory risks of a high-altitude
nuclear detonation. 46
Military Doctrine, Education, Training, Exercises, and Logistics.
Military capability is a product not simply of having weapons, but of having a
doctrine for how to use them, well-educated and well-trained personnel, realistic
exercises, and logistic support. In past years, the PLA was considered weak in some
or all of these areas, and PLA military capability consequently was considered not as
great as its inventory of weapons alone might suggest. The 2004 China defense
white paper states an intention to improve in these areas, 47 and observers believe the
PLA is acting on these intentions. DOD says that “China has stated its intentions
and allocated resources to pursue force-wide professionalization, improve training,
conduct more robust, realistic joint exercises, and accelerate acquisition of modern
weapons.” 48 The PLA in recent years has developed a doctrine for joint operations
involving multiple military services,49 improved its military education and training
and conducted more realistic exercises,50 and reformed its logistics system.51
Improvements in these areas might be considered as important as the weaponmodernization activities discussed above. Some of these improvements may require
several years to fully implement.
China’s Naval Limitations and Weaknesses. In spite of the concerns
raised by the modernization effort described above, observers believe PLA military
One source states that:
An electromagnetic warhead detonated within lethal radius of a surface
combatant will render its air defence system inoperable, as well as damaging
other electronic equipment such as electronic countermeasures, electronic
support measures and communications. This leaves the vessel undefended until
these systems can be restored, which may or may not be possible on the high
seas. Therefore launching an electromagnetic glidebomb on to a surface
combatant, and then reducing it with laser or television guided weapons is an
alternate strategy for dealing with such targets. (Section 10.4 of Carlo Kopp,
“The Electromagnetic Bomb — a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction,” op
See the sections entitled “Reducing the PLA by 200,000,” “Implementing the Strategic
Project for Talented People,” “Intensifying Joint Training,” and “Deepening Logistical
Reforms,” in Chapter II on national defense policy.
2005 DOD CMP, p. 26.
See, for example, 2005 DOD CMP, pp. 5-6; the statement of David M. Finkelstein as
printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, p. 90-93; and 2003 CFR task force report, pp. 38-39.
See, for example, [Statement of] Dennis J. Blasko, Independent Consultant, September
15, 2005, Hearing on “Net Assessment of Cross-Strait Military Capabilities” Before the
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission; the statement by Lyle J. Goldstein
as printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, pp. 131-132, 143-145; and 2003 CFR task force report,
pp. 39-41, 45-46, 49.
Regarding reformed logistics, see 2005 DOD CMP, p. 34, and the statement of Lyle J.
Goldstein as printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, p. 145.
(including naval) forces continue to have limitations or weaknesses in the following
areas, among others:
sustained operations in waters and air space that are more distant
C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers,
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems, including, for
example, airborne warning and control system (AWACS)
long-range surveillance and targeting systems for detecting and
tracking ships at sea — a capability needed to take full advantage of
longer-ranged anti-ship weapons;
anti-air warfare (AAW) capability for defending surface ships
against air attack;
antisubmarine warfare (ASW) capability for defending surface ships
against submarine attack;
mine countermeasures (MCM) capability; and
The paragraphs below elaborate on these items.
Weaknesses And Limitations In General.
limitations and weaknesses in general, DIA states:
Regarding PLA Navy
China continues to develop or import modern weapons.... The PLA must
overcome significant integration challenges to turn these new, advanced and
disparate weapon systems into improved capabilities. Beijing also faces
technical and operational difficulties in numerous areas. 52
Another set of observers states:
The PLAN is limited by a lack of integration in its command, control, and
communication systems; targeting; air defense; and antisubmarine warfare
capabilities. PLAN ships are vulnerable to attack by aircraft, torpedoes, and
Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States, Vice Admiral
Lowell E. Jacoby, U.S. Navy, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, Statement for the
Record [before the] Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 16 February 2005, p. 16. See
also Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States, Vice Admiral
Lowell E. Jacoby, U.S. Navy, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, Statement For the
Record [before the] Senate Armed Services Committee, 17 March 2005, p. 16.
antiship missiles. The navies of the ASEAN nations could, if able to operate
together, exclude the PLAN from the South China Sea....
New capabilities are limited by the lack of some critical supporting systems. The
PLAN is deficient in antisubmarine warfare capabilities. PLAN ships are also
vulnerable to air attack by both aircraft and antiship missiles.53
Regarding the submarine force, one observer states that
by no means should the PLAN submarine force be considered ten feet tall.
China’s submarine force has some significant weaknesses: a reliance on diesel
submarines that have to approach the surface to snorkel; especially in the wake
of the Ming 361 accident, 54 it is evident that crew training and professionalism
remain a fundamental problem; finally, there is little evidence of a robust, remote
cueing capability, and probable weakness in the sphere of command and
Sustained Operations in Distant Waters. Regarding sustained operations
in more distant waters, DOD states: “We assess that China’s ability to project
conventional military power beyond its periphery remains limited,” and that
China does not appear to have broadened its concept of operations for
anti-access and sea denial to encompass sea control in waters beyond Taiwan and
its immediate periphery. If China were to shift to a broader “sea control”
strategy, the primary indicators would include: development of an aircraft carrier,
development of robust anti-submarine warfare capabilities, development of a true
area anti-air warfare capability, acquisition of large numbers of nuclear attack
submarines, development of effective maritime C4ISR, and increased open water
With its present force structure, according to the Intelligence Community,
Chinese surface combatants would have difficulty projecting power into the
Strait of Malacca, especially if it were conducting simultaneous blockade or
invasion operations elsewhere. Similarly, although the PLA Navy occasionally
patrols as far as the Spratly Islands, its limited organic air defense capability
leaves surface ships vulnerable to attack from hostile air and naval forces. The
PLA Navy Air Force and PLA Air Force currently lack the operational range to
support PLA Navy operations. In recent years, however, the PLA Navy’s South
Sea Fleet, which has operational responsibility over the South China Sea, has
been assigned more capable surface combatants and submarines, including two
destroyers (one LUDA IV class and one LUHAI class) that provide it with its
first short-range area air-defense capability, the HHQ-7C surface-to-air missile
Joint Operations. Regarding joint operations, DOD states:
2003 CFR task force report, pp. 28 and 47.
This is a reference to an April 2003 fatal accident aboard a Ming-class boat with hull
number 361. See Appendix A for additional details concerning this accident.
Statement of Lyle J. Goldstein as printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, p. 156.
2005 DOD CMP, executive summary and pp. 33-34.
Although the PLA has devoted considerable effort to develop joint capabilities,
it faces a persistent lack of inter-service cooperation and a lack of actual
experience in joint operations.... The lack of experience in joint operations is a
subset of the overall lack of operational experience in the Chinese force. 57
Similarly, Regarding training for amphibious and other expeditionary
operations, DOD states:
Combined training for all these units is seldom conducted in a major amphibious
assault exercise. Units tend to train for their missions in garrisons, local areas
and regional training facilities. China’s ability to integrate individual unit actions
— or simulate integration — to assess accurately operational capability, is not
Another observer states:
There is no question that China has achieved a remarkable leap in
modernization of the forces needed for these missions and that it is urgently
continuing on that path. There is question about how China is now proceeding
to exercise these new assets so as to make them truly operational in a combat
environment. There is considerable question about China’s capability to
coordinate all these forces in two major simultaneous operations: (1) to bring
Taiwan to its knees and (2) cause the U.S. to be tardy, indecisive, or ineffective
in responding. 59
Anti-Air Warfare (AAW). Regarding AAW, one observer states that China’s
decision to “shed its strictly coastal defense force structure in favor of acquiring
larger and more modern fighting vessels capable of blue-water operations” has
exposed a significant vulnerability — the PLAN’s inability to provide a
sophisticated, layered air defense for these new forces. Fleet air defense is the
Achilles’ heel of the 21st-century Chinese Navy....
As the PLAN’s ships increased in size, capability and endurance, and with
operational deployments taking them well beyond the navy’s traditional
mainland-based air defenses, a challenge not faced previously became apparent:
having to defend these units from air attack in the event of hostilities. Response
to this concern has been slow and inadequate at best, and serious consideration
to providing the surface navy with the kind of air defense systems one normally
associates with modern naval fleets has only begun. Not until the late 1990s was
an effort made to outfit PLAN destroyers and frigates with an antiair “point
defense” system, giving them some measure of self-defense.... The PLAN
surface fleet, however, still lacks “modern air surveillance systems and data links
required for area air defense missions. The combination of short-range weapons
and lack of modern surveillance systems limits the PLAN to self-defense and
2005 DOD CMP, p. 17.
Ibid., p. 31.
McVadon 9/15/05 testimony, p. 6. Italics as in the original.
point-defense [AAW] only. As a result, except in unusual circumstances, no
PLAN ship is capable of conducting air defense of another ship.” 60
In a similar vein, today’s PLAN naval aviation forces alone cannot provide
fighter coverage for the entire Chinese coast or the fleet, so interceptor duties
have ben distributed by region between naval aviation units and the PLA Air
Force. This increases the number of assets available for the task, but questions
remain about joint patrolling, separate chains of command, and air force overwater proficiency. When faced with training scenarios that incorporated factors
likely found in a modern air combat environment, such as electronic
countermeasures or even inclement weather, neither service was up to the task.
In light of these facts, the potential effectiveness of the cooperation between the
two services is doubtful.
Significant gaps exist in the present PLAN fleet air defense posture. Given
the forces available today, China cannot adequately defend its fleet from air
attack in the modern air threat environment. 61
Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW). Regarding ASW, one observer states:
The most serious deficiency of the PLAN is certainly in the area of
Anti-Submarine Warfare. Good submarines, like the “Kilo” class and (possibly)
the forthcoming Type-093, will play an important ASW role, but the lack of
maritime patrol aircraft and of surface ships equipped with advanced acoustic
sensors make the Chinese vessels vulnerable for [sic] any of the foreign
high-capability submarines operating in the area. 62
Mine Countermeasures (MCM). Regarding MCM, one observer writes that
for the PLA Navy a
serious operational deficiency involves the mine countermeasures vessels
(MCMV). Though China has an intense shipping [sic] along its coasts, the
PLAN has virtually no mine-sweeping or mine-hunting capabilities. This was
due, perhaps, to the consideration that the U.S. Navy is usually more concerned
to keep the sea lanes open, instead of laying mines, but nevertheless the lack of
MCM is simply stunning. Any hostile organisation (including, but not limited
to, state-sponsored terrorists and insurgents) could play havoc with the Chinese
shipping simply by laying a few mines here and there. 63
Logistics. Regarding logistics, DOD states:
Since 2000, China has improved the structure, material coordination, and
efficiency of its joint logistics system. However, the command system is still not
The passage at this point is quoting from the 2003 edition of DOD’s annual report on
China’s military power (2003 DOD CMP, p. 25).
Dominic DeScisciolo, “Red Aegis,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, July 2004, pp. 5658.
Massimo Annati, “China’s PLA Navy, The Revolution,” Naval Forces, No. 6, 2004, p.
Ibid., p. 73.
compatible with the support system, and organization and planning is
incompatible with supply management. The first experimental joint logistics unit
was created only in July 2004. 64
Regarding logistic support of China’s new destroyers, one observer states:
The ships’ new sensors, missiles and combat systems are mainly of Russian and
Western origin. However, China now is faced with the challenge of operating
and maintaining these advanced systems to create a credible threat to foreign
navies in Far Eastern waters....
Every piece of equipment [on China’s Sovremenny-class destroyers] from hull,
mechanical and electrical (HM&E) technologies to guns, sonar, communications,
electronic countermeasures (ECM) and missiles are totally new to the PLAN....
[For these ships,] China is dependent on Russian advisers for training, operations
and maintenance. These ships largely remain in the Russian support cocoon in
Dinghai rather than at a fleet base....
Isolation from other ships and crews hurts fleet integration and coordinated
operations.... It is no coincidence that the Sovremnyi and Kilo submarine home
bases are in an enclave of Russian support in an isolated area near the Eastern
Fleet headquarters at Ningbo.
It is unlikely that Russian advisers would be onboard during actual combat
operations against Taiwan and U.S. Navy air, surface and subsurface threats.
PLAN officers and crew are not expected to be able to handle operations when
under fire, sustaining hits and suffering system degradation or loss. This could
include problems in night or rough weather environment as well. Because all of
the combat systems, except for three noted, are modern Russian equipments,
China has minimal capability even to repair peacetime losses in port....
A comparison [of the AAW system on the Luyang II class destroyers] to
[the] U.S. Navy Aegis [combat system] is inevitable, but Aegis was on [the U.S.
Navy test ship] Norton Sound for nine years of development testing prior to the
first installation on the USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) 20 years ago. Developing the
software for signal processing and tracking a hundred air, surface and submarine
targets will take even longer for China. Integration to various indigenous ship
guns and missiles and other sensors, as well as other ships’ data management and
weapons, will take longer. These Chinese “Aegis” ships may be limited to 1940s
era radar tasks of detecting and tracking air and surface targets for their own ship
weapons. Further in the future will be an 8,000-ton DDG that is predicted to be
a true area-control warship with additional Aegis capabilities. It is now in early
construction stages in the new Dalian shipyard.
What kind of record is provided by prior Chinese built warships with
imported Russian and Western technology? These include sensors, fire control,
weapons and communications as well as HM&E. The Chinese new-construction
DDGs are a mix of local designed and manufactured systems, foreign imports
with production rights, illegally copied import equipment and illegal examples
with no local production capability at all. The latter two represent serious
training and maintenance problems. Unfortunately for the PLAN, some of them
2005 DOD CMP, pp. 34-35.
are in the highest mission-critical areas. For example, the DDGs being built have
a rapid-fire Gatling gun close-in weapon system that looks like the Dutch
Goalkeeper system. Signaal and the Dutch government deny exporting the
equipment or production rights to China. This key weapon responsible for
downing incoming cruise missiles is probably lacking documentation and
training because it must be illegally obtained. 65
Goals or Significance of China’s Naval Modernization.
PLA Navy As A Modernization Priority. The PLA Navy is one of three
stated priorities within China’s overall military modernization effort. China’s 2004
defense white paper says three times that the effort will emphasize the navy, air force,
and the ballistic missile force. 66 Consistent with this stated emphasis, the heads of
the PLA Navy, Air Force, and missile force were added to the Central Military
Commission in September 2004, and Navy and Air Force officers were appointed
Deputy Chiefs of the General Staff. 67
Near-Term Focus: Taiwan Situation. DOD and other observers believe
that the primary near-term focus of China’s military modernization is to develop
military options for addressing the situation with Taiwan. 68 DOD lists China’s
potential military options regarding Taiwan as follows:
persuasion and coercion, which “combines the credible threat to
use military force with the economic and cultural tools that China
has at its disposal”;
limited force options that could employ “information operations,
special operations forces on Taiwan, and SRBM or air strikes at key
James C. Bussert, “China Builds Destroyers Around Imported Technology,” Signal,
August 2004, p. 67.
The white paper states:
The PLA will promote coordinated development of firepower, mobility and
information capability, enhance the development of its operational strength with
priority given to the Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force, and strengthen
its comprehensive deterrence and warfighting capabilities....
The Army is streamlined by reducing the ordinary troops that are technologically
backward while the Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force are
While continuing to attach importance to the building of the Army, the PLA
gives priority to the building of the Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force
to seek balanced development of the combat force structure, in order to
strengthen the capabilities for winning both command of the sea and command
of the air, and conducting strategic counter-strikes. (2004 China White Paper,
op cit, Chapter II national defense policy.)
See, for example, 2005 DOD CMP, p. 1.
Ibid., executive summary.
military or political sites, to try to break the will of Taiwan’s
leadership and population”;
an air and missile campaign, in which “Surprise SRBM attacks
and precision air strikes could support a campaign designed to
degrade Taiwan defenses, decapitate its military and political
leadership, and break its will to fight rapidly before the United States
and other nations could intervene”;
a blockade, which “Beijing could threaten or deploy... either as a
‘non-war’ pressure tactic in the pre-hostility phase or as a transition
to active conflict”;69 and
amphibious invasion, which “would be a complex and difficult
operation relying upon timing and pre-conditions set by many
Anti-Access Force For Short-Duration Conflict. More specifically,
observers believe that China’s military modernization is aimed at fielding a force that
can succeed in a short-duration conflict with Taiwan that finishes before the United
States is able to intervene, so that China can present the United States and the rest of
the world with a fait accompli. DOD states that China is “emphasizing preparations
to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity conflicts along China’s periphery.” 71
Regarding the potential time line for a short-duration conflict with Taiwan, one
The U.S. (particularly the U.S. Pacific Command/PACOM) seems to want
Taiwan to focus on [acquiring] systems and defensive operational capabilities
that would lengthen the amount of time Taiwan could deny the PRC from gaining
air superiority, sea control, and physical occupation of Taiwan’s leadership core
(namely Taipei). The idea is to permit sufficient time to bring U.S. forces to
bear. The amount of time needed is understood to be at least 5 days, presumably
Analysts disagree regarding China’s potential for mounting an effective blockade,
particularly with its submarine force. For an analysis that casts a skeptical eye on the
potential, see Michael A. Glosny, “Strangulation from the Sea? A PRC Submarine Blockade
of Taiwan,” International Security, spring 2004, pp. 125-160. For an analysis that expresses
more concern about this potential, see the statement of Lyle J. Goldstein as printed in 2/6/04
USCC hearing, pp. 132-133, 147-151.
2005 DOD CMP, pp. 39-42. See also 2003 CFR task force report, pp. 2, 3, and 53.
2005 DOD CMP, executive summary. See also Eric A. McVadon, “Alarm Bells Ring as
China Builds up its Armoury on a Massive Sale,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, March 16, 2005,
p. 23; Edward Cody, “China Builds A Smaller, Stronger Military,” Washington Post, April
12, 2005, p. 1; Bryan Bender, “China Bolsters Its Forces, US Says,” Boston Globe, April 10,
2005, p. 1; Jim Yardley and Thom Shanker, “Chinese Navy Buildup Gives Pentagon New
Worries,” New York Times, April 8, 2005.
after credible warning that hostilities either are imminent or are already
Consistent with the goal of a short-duration conflict and a fait accompli,
observers believe, China wants its modernized military to be capable of acting as a
so-called anti-access force — a force that can deter U.S. intervention, or failing that,
delay the arrival or reduce the effectiveness of U.S. intervention forces, particularly
U.S. Navy forces. DOD states that, in addition to preventing Taiwan independence
or trying to compel Taiwan to negotiate a settlement on Beijing’s terms, “A second
set of objectives includes building counters to third-party, including potential U.S.,
intervention in cross-Strait crises.” 73
China’s emerging maritime anti-access force can be viewed as broadly
analogous to the sea-denial force that the Soviet Union developed during the Cold
War to deny U.S. use of the sea or counter U.S. forces participating in a NATOWarsaw Pact conflict. One potential difference between the Soviet sea-denial force
and China’s emerging maritime anti-access force is that China’s force could include
MaRV-equipped TBMs capable of hitting moving ships at sea.
Some analysts speculate that China may attain (or believe that is has attained)
a capable maritime anti-access capability, or important elements of it, by about
2010.74 Other observers believe China will attain (or believe that it has attained) such
Testimony of Fu S. Mei, Director, Taiwan Security Analysis Center (TAISAC), Before
the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission [regarding] “Taiwan Straits
Issues and Chinese Military-Defense Budget,” September 15, 2005, p. 3.
2005 DOD CMP, executive summary. DOD also states that “China is developing
capabilities to achieve local sea denial, including naval mines, submarines, cruise missiles,
and special operations forces.” (Ibid., p. 33.) Another observer states that
This mission, in essence, is to be able quickly to overwhelm Taiwan’s military,
cow the Taiwan government, and deter, delay, or complicate effective and timely
The concept is ... to be able very rapidly, in a matter of days, to cause Taiwan to
capitulate, with such capitulation abetted by the failure of the U.S. to respond
promptly and effectively. As has been said often, Beijing’s concept is to be able
to present to Washington and the world a fait accompli concerning Taiwan....
Beijing has ... developed a concept to use force, if it feels it must, to defeat
Taiwan, deter or delay U.S. intervention, and at least cause Japan to think twice
before introducing overt military assistance in a developing crisis....
There is, in my opinion, no question that this is Beijing’s concept for
overwhelming Taiwan and deterring or confronting U.S. forces. (McVadon
9/15/05 testimony, pp. 1, 2, 2-3, 6.)
One observer, for example, states:
Because the Chinese submarine fleet will operate in nearby waters and in the
mid-Pacific, China need not wait until 2020 to challenge the U.S. at sea. It will
likely have a home-field advantage in any East Asian conflict contingency as
a capability some time after 2010. DOD states that “The U.S. Intelligence
Community estimates that China will require until the end of this decade or later for
its military modernization program to produce a modern force, capable of defeating
a moderate-size adversary.” 75 The term “moderate-size adversary” would appear to
apply to a country other than the United States. The issue of when China might attain
(or believe that it has attained) a capable anti-access capability is significant because
it can influence the kinds of options that are available to U.S. policymakers for
addressing the situation.
Broader or Longer-Term Regional Goals. In addition to the near-term
focus on developing military options for addressing the situation with Taiwan, DOD
and some (but not necessarily all) other observers believe that broader or longer-term
goals of China’s military modernization, including naval modernization, include one
or more of the following:
asserting China’s regional military leadership, displacing U.S.
regional military influence, prevailing in regional rivalries, and
encouraging eventual U.S. military withdrawal form the region;
defending China’s claims in maritime territorial disputes, some
of which have implications for oil, gas, or mineral exploration
protecting China’s sea lines of communication, which China
relies upon increasingly for oil and other imports.77
early as 2010, while the U.S. fleet will still have operational demands in the
Middle East, and in tracking Russian ballistic missile submarines elsewhere.
(Tkacik 7/27/05 testimony, p. 8.)
See also Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, which cites the year 2010 on pages 3, 4, 7, 9 (twice), 11,
and 16 in discussing China’s military modernization and the resulting impact on the regional
military balance, and Fisher’s statement as printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, p. 85, which
states, “It is possible that before the end of the decade the PLA will have the capability to
coordinate mass missile attacks on U.S. Naval Forces by submarines and Su-30s,” and p. 88,
which prints his table summarizing potential PLA anti-carrier forces by 2010.
2005 DOD CMP, p. 26. Another observer states: “QDR [Quadrennial Defense Review]
planners have recently moved forward (to 2012) their estimate of when key warfighting
capabilities might be needed to fight China, and have postulated conflict scenarios lasting
as long as seven years.” (Loren B. Thompson, “Pentagon Fighter Study Raises Questions,”
August 22, 2005. Lexington Institute Issue Brief.) 2003 CFR task force report discusses
the difficulty of assessing the pace at which China’s military modernization is occurring and
presents a series of indicators on pages 11-15 (and again on pages 64-68) that can be
monitored to help gauge the pace and direction of China’s military modernization.
For more on this topic, see CRS Report RL31183, China’s Maritime Territorial Claims:
Implications for U.S. Interests, Kerry Dumbaugh, coordinator.
See, for example, 2005 DOD CMP, pp. 12-13 and 33; Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 4;
McVadon 9/15/05 testimony, p. 1; 2003 CFR task force report, pp. 24-25, 31-32, 62-63;
Edward Cody, “China Builds A Smaller, Stronger Military,” April 12, 2005, p. 1; David
Lague, “China’s Growing Undersea Fleet Presents Challenge To Its Neighbors,” Wall Street
Some PLA Navy units have recently been deployed outside China’s home
waters. In November 2004, for example, a Han-class SSN was detected in Japanese
territorial waters near Okinawa. 78 DIA states that, as part of the same deployment,
this submarine traveled “far into the western Pacific Ocean....” 79 Press reports state
that the submarine operated in the vicinity of Guam before moving toward
Okinawa. 80 As another example, on September 9, 2005,
China deployed a fleet of five warships... near a gas field in the East China Sea,
a potentially resource-rich area that is disputed by China and Japan. The ships,
including a guided-missile destroyer, were spotted by a Japanese military patrol
plane near the Chunxiao gas field, according to the [Japan] Maritime
Self-Defense Forces. It is believed to be the first time that Chinese warships have
been seen in that area.81
As a third example,
China said on Sept. 29 [of 2005 that] it has sent warships to the disputed
East China Sea, a day ahead of talks with Japan over competing territorial claims
in the gas-rich waters.
“I can now confirm that in the East China Sea, a Chinese reserve vessel
squadron has been established,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a
No details were given on the size of the squadron or the area it will patrol.
The establishment of the squadron follows China’s creation of two naval groups
in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea off the northern China coast, the agency said.82
Regarding base access and support facilities to support more distant PLA Navy
operations, one press report states:
Journal, November 29, 2004.
Mark Magnier, “China Regrets Sub Incident, Japan Says,” Los Angeles Times, November
17, 2004; Martin Fackler, “Japanese Pursuit Of Chinese Sub Raises Tensions,” Wall Street
Journal, November 15, 2004: 20; Kenji Hall, “Japan: Unidentified sub is Chinese,”
NavyTimes.com (Associated Press), November 12, 2004.
Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States, Vice Admiral
Lowell E. Jacoby, U.S. Navy, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, Statement for the
Record [before the] Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 16 February 2005, p. 16-17.
See also Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States, Vice Admiral
Lowell E. Jacoby, U.S. Navy, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, Statement For the
Record [before the] Senate Armed Services Committee, 17 March 2005, p. 17.
Timothy Hu, “Ready, steady, go...,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, April 13, 2005: 27; “China
Sub Tracked By U.S. Off Guam Before Japan Intrusion,” Japan Times, November 17, 2004.
Norimitsu Onishi and Howard W. French, “Japan’s Rivalry With China Is Stirring A
Crowded Sea,” New York Times, September 11, 2005. See also “Japan Upset Over Chinese
Warships Near Disputed Area,” DefenseNews.com, October 3, 2005.
“China Sends Warships to East China Sea,” DefenseNews.com, September 29, 2005.
China is building up military forces and setting up bases along sea lanes
from the Middle East to project its power overseas and protect its oil shipments,
according to a previously undisclosed internal report prepared for Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
“China is building strategic relationships along the sea lanes from the
Middle East to the South China Sea in ways that suggest defensive and offensive
positioning to protect China’s energy interests, but also to serve broad security
objectives,” said the report sponsored by the director, Net Assessment, who
heads Mr. Rumsfeld’s office on future-oriented strategies.
The Washington Times obtained a copy of the report, titled “Energy
Futures in Asia,” which was produced by defense contractor Booz Allen
The internal report stated that China is adopting a “string of pearls” strategy of
bases and diplomatic ties stretching from the Middle East to southern China.... 83
Bill Gertz, “China Builds Up Strategic Sea Lanes,” Washington Times, January 18, 2005,
p. 1. The report stated that China is:
operating an eavesdropping post and building a naval base at
Gwadar, Pakistan, near the Persian Gulf;
building a container port facility at Chittagong, Bangladesh, and
seeking “much more extensive naval and commercial access” in
building naval bases in Burma, which is near the Strait of Malacca;
operating electronic intelligence-gathering facilities on islands in the
Bay of Bengal and near the Strait of Malacca;
building a railway line from China through Cambodia to the sea;
improving its ability to project air and sea power into the South
China Sea from mainland China and Hainan Island;
considering funding a $20-billion canal that would cross the Kra
Isthmus of Thailand, which would allow ships to bypass the Strait
of Malacca and permit China to establish port facilities there.
According to the article,
The Pentagon report said China, by militarily controlling oil shipping sea
lanes, could threaten ships, “thereby creating a climate of uncertainty about the
safety of all ships on the high seas.”
The report noted that the vast amount of oil shipments through the sea
lanes, along with growing piracy and maritime terrorism, prompted China, as
well as India, to build up naval power at “chokepoints” along the sea routes from
the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea.
“China ... is looking not only to build a blue-water navy to control the sea
lanes, but also to develop undersea mines and missile capabilities to deter the
potential disruption of its energy supplies from potential threats, including the
U.S. Navy, especially in the case of a conflict with Taiwan,” the report said....
Potential Implications for Required U.S. Navy Capabilities
Potential implications of China’s naval modernization for required U.S. Navy
capabilities can be organized into three groups:
capabilities for a crisis or conflict in the Taiwan Strait area;
capabilities for maintaining U.S. Navy presence and military
influence in the Western Pacific; and
capabilities for detecting, tracking, and if necessary countering PLA
Navy SSBNs equipped with long-range SLBMs.
Each of these is discussed below.
Capabilities for Taiwan Strait Crisis or Conflict. U.S. military
operations in a potential crisis or conflict in the Taiwan Strait area would likely
feature a strong reliance on U.S. Navy forces and land-based U.S. Air Force aircraft. 84
If air bases in Japan and South Korea are, for political reasons, not available to the
United States for use in the operation, or if air bases in Japan, South Korea, or Guam
are rendered less useful by PLA attacks using TBMs, LACMs, or special operations
forces, then the reliance on U.S. Navy forces could become greater.
For the U.S. Navy, a crisis or conflict in the Taiwan Strait could place a
premium on the following:
on-station or early-arriving forces;
forces with a capability to defeat PLA anti-access weapons and
forces with an ability to operate in an environment that could be
characterized by IW/IO and possibly EMP or the use of nuclear
weapons directly against Navy ships; and
“The Iraq war, in particular, revived concerns over the impact of a
disturbance in Middle Eastern supplies or a U.S. naval blockade,” the report said,
noting that Chinese military leaders want an ocean-going navy and “undersea
retaliatory capability to protect the sea lanes.”
China believes the U.S. military will disrupt China’s energy imports in any
conflict over Taiwan, and sees the United States as an unpredictable country that
violates others’ sovereignty and wants to “encircle” China, the report said.
See also Edward Cody, “China Builds A Smaller, Stronger Military,” Washington Post,
April 12, 2005, p. 1.
For discussions relating to Taiwan’s potential military capabilities in such a scenario, see
CRS Report RL30957, Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990; and CRS Report
RL30341, China/Taiwan: Evolution of the ‘One China’ Policy — Key Statements from
Washington, Beijing, and Taipei, both by Shirley A. Kan.
forces that can be ready to conduct operations by about 2010, or by
some later date.
On-Station and Early-Arriving Forces. In the scenario of a short-duration
conflict, on-station and early-arriving U.S. Navy forces could be of particular value,
while later-arriving U.S. Navy forces might be of less value, at least in preventing
initial success by PLA forces.
On-Station Forces. Given the difficulty of knowing with certainty when a
Taiwan Strait crisis or conflict might occur, having forces on-station at the start of
the crisis or conflict is a goal that would most reliably be met by maintaining a
standing forward deployment of U.S. Navy forces in the area. Maintaining a standing
forward deployment of U.S. Navy forces in the area while also maintaining U.S.
Navy forward deployments in other regions, such as the Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean
region and the Mediterranean Sea, would require a Navy with a certain minimum
number of ships.
Although it is sometimes said that it takes three U.S. Navy ships to keep one
ship forward deployed in an overseas location, the actual ratio traditionally has been
higher. For example, if U.S. Navy ships are operated in the traditional manner —
with a single crew for each ship and deployments lasting six months — then
maintaining one U.S. Navy cruiser or destroyer continuously forward-deployed to the
Western Pacific might require a total of about five San Diego-based cruisers or
Stationkeeping multipliers like these can be reduced by homeporting U.S. Navy
ships at locations closer to Taiwan (such as Japan, Guam, Hawaii, or perhaps
Singapore) or by deploying ships for longer periods of time and operating them with
multiple crews that are rotated out to each ship. The Navy has an aircraft carrier
strike group and other ships86 homeported in Japan, and three attack submarines
homeported in Guam. 87 The Navy reportedly may transfer an additional aircraft
carrier from the continental United States to Hawaii or Guam, and is studying options
for transferring perhaps a few additional SSNs to Hawaii or Guam. The Navy is also
experimenting with the concept of deploying certain Navy ships (particularly surface
combatants) for 12, 18, or 24 months and rotating multiple crews out to each ship. 88
For a discussion, see archived CRS Report 92-803, Naval Forward Deployments and the
Size of the Navy, by Ronald O’Rourke. See Table 1. (Out of print and available directly
from the author.)
The other ships include amphibious ships and mine countermeasures ships.
One of these SSNs, the San Francisco, was significantly damaged in a collision with an
undersea mountain near Guam in January 2005. The ship was transferred to the Puget
Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, WA, for repairs. The San Francisco reportedly will
be replaced at Guam by another SSN, the Buffalo, in September 2006. (David V.
Crisostomo, “Guam To Receive Third Home-Ported Submarine In 2006,” Pacific Daily
News (Guam), November 1, 2005.)
For a discussion see CRS Report RS21338, Navy Ship Deployments: New Approaches
— Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
Early-Arriving Forces. Having early-arriving U.S. Navy forces could mean
having forces based in locations Western Pacific locations such as Japan, Guam,
Singapore, or perhaps Hawaii, rather than on the U.S. West Coast.89 Table 4 shows
potential ship travel times to the Taiwan Strait area from various ports in the Pacific,
based on average ship travel speeds. All the ports shown in the table except
Singapore are current U.S. Navy home ports.90 U.S. Navy submarines, aircraft
carriers, cruisers, and destroyers have maximum sustained speeds of more than 30
knots, but their average speeds over longer transits in some cases might be closer to
25 knots or less due rough sea conditions or, in the case of the cruisers or destroyers,
which are conventionally powered, the need slow down for at-sea refueling. The
Navy’s planned Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is to have a maximum sustained speed
of about 45 knots, but its average speed over long transits would likely be less than
Table 4. Potential Ship Travel Times to Taiwan Strait Area
Minimum travel time in days,
based on average speeds belowb
Straight-line distance to
Taiwan Strait areaa
Source: Table prepared by CRS using straight-line distances calculated by the “how far is it”
calculator, available at [http://www.indo.com/distance/].
a. Defined as a position in the sea at 24oN, 124oE, which is roughly 130 nautical miles east of Taiwan,
i.e., on the other side of Taiwan from the Taiwan Strait.
b. Actual travel times may be greater due to the possible need for ships to depart from a straight-line
course so as to avoid land barriers, remain within port-area shipping channels, etc.
c. Distance calculated from Tokyo, which is about 25 nautical miles north of Yokosuka.
d. No U.S. Navy ships are currently homeported at Singapore.
e. Distance calculated from Honolulu, which is about 6 nautical miles southeast of Pearl Harbor.
Other potential Western Pacific locations, at least in theory, include South Korea (where
other U.S. forces have been based for years), the Philippines (where the U.S. Navy ships
used as a major repair port until the early 1990s), and Australia.
U.S. Navy ships visit Singapore, and there is a U.S. Navy logistic group there, but no U.S.
Navy ships are currently homeported at Singapore.
One version of the LCS has a sprint (i.e., high-speed) range of roughly 1,150 miles, while
the other has a sprint range of about 1,940 miles.
As can be seen in the table, Yokosuka, Guam, and Singapore are less than half
as far from the Taiwan Strait area as are Pearl Harbor, Everett, WA, 92 and San Diego.
Depending on their average travel speeds, ships homeported in Yokosuka, Guam, and
Singapore could arrive in the Taiwan Strait area roughly two to four days after
leaving port, ships homeported in Pearl Harbor might arrive about six to nine days
after leaving port, and ships homeported on the U.S. West Coast might arrive about
seven to twelve days after leaving port. The time needed to get a ship and its crew
ready to leave port would add to their total response times. Depending on a ship’s
status at the moment it was ordered to the Taiwan Strait area, preparing it for rapid
departure might require anywhere from less than one day to a few days.
Regarding the possible transfer of a carrier from the continental United States
to Hawaii or Guam, one observer states:
Currently the United States maintains one aircraft carrier full-time in the Western
Pacific. In the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan, however, particularly
given the various [PLA] threats to land-based air outlined above, having more
aircraft carriers on the scene will be extremely valuable. Other than any carriers
that might be transiting through the region, however, currently the closest
additional carriers would be those based on the west coast of the United States.
Given that a conflict with China could begin with little warning, this means that
as much as two weeks could elapse before additional aircraft carriers reached the
area of combat operations. The Department of Defense has already
recommended forward-deploying an additional aircraft carrier in the Pacific, but
it is important to note that precisely where this carrier is forward-deployed is
significant. In particular, an aircraft carrier based in Hawaii would still take at
least a week to reach waters near Taiwan. An aircraft carrier based in Guam,
Singapore, or elsewhere in the Western Pacific, by contrast, could arrive on the
scene in about three days. 93
Basing additional forces in Japan, Guam, Singapore, or Hawaii could increase
the importance of taking actions to defend these locations against potential attack by
TBMs, LACMs, or special operations forces. 94
Defeating PLA Anti-Access Forces. Defeating PLA maritime anti-access
forces would require capabilities for countering:
large numbers of TBMs, including some possibly equipped with
large numbers of LACMs and ASCMs, including some advanced
ASCMs such as the SS-N-27 and SS-N-22;
Everett is located on the Puget Sound, about 23 nautical miles north of Seattle.
China’s Military Modernization and the Cross-Strait Balance, [Statement of] Roger Cliff,
September 2005, Testimony presented before the U.S.-China Economic and Security
Review Commission on September 15, 2005, pp. 9-10. (Hereafter cited as Cliff 9/15/05
For a list of recommended actions for improving the ability of bases in the Western
Pacific to defend themselves from PLA attack, see Cliff 9/15/05 testimony.
substantial numbers of land-based fighters, strike fighters, maritime
bombers, and SAMs, including some built to modern designs;
a substantial number of submarines, including a few that are nuclearpowered and a significant portion that are built to modern designs;
a substantial number of destroyers, frigates, and fast attack craft,
including some built to modern designs; and
potentially large numbers of mines of different types, including some
Countering TBMs. Countering large numbers of TBMs, including some
possibly equipped with MaRVs, could entail some or all of the following:
operating, if possible, in a way that reduces the likelihood of being
detected and tracked by PLA maritime surveillance systems;
attacking the surveillance systems that detect and track U.S. Navy
ships operating at sea, and the network that transmits this targeting
data to the TBMs;
attacking TBMs at their launch sites;
intercepting TBMs in flight, which in some cases could require
firing two or perhaps even three interceptor missiles at individual
TBMs to ensure their destruction;
decoying MaRVs away from U.S. Navy ships.
Potential implications of the above points for Navy missile-defense programs
are discussed in this next section of this report.
Countering Submarines. Countering a substantial number of submarines
would likely require a coordinated effort by an ASW network consisting of some or
all of the following: distributed sensors, unmanned vehicles, submarines, surface
ships, helicopters, and maritime patrol aircraft. Defeating torpedoes fired by PLA
submarines would require U.S. submarines and surface ships to have systems for
detecting, decoying, and perhaps destroying those torpedoes.
ASW operations against well-maintained and well-operated submarines
traditionally have often been time-consuming. Acoustic conditions in waters around
Taiwan are reportedly poor for ASW, which could make the task of countering PLA
submarines in these areas more difficult. 95 Success in an ASW operation is highly
dependent on the proficiency of the people operating the ASW equipment. ASW
See, for example, the statement of Lyle J. Goldstein in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, pp. 148,
150, and 152.
operational proficiency can take time to develop and can atrophy significantly if not
In December 2004, the Navy approved a new concept of operations (CONOPS)
a new general approach — to ASW. As described in one article,
The Navy’s new concept of operations for anti-submarine warfare calls for
the use of standoff weapons, networked sensor fields and unmanned vehicles to
detect and attack diesel submarines in littoral waters, rather than a reliance on
“force on force” engagements.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark approved the CONOPS Dec.
20, according to a Navy spokesman. The five-page document will guide the
development of a comprehensive ASW master plan that is expected to be
classified, though it might have an unclassified version.
The CONOPS envisions hundreds or thousands of small sensors that would
“permeate the operating environment, yielding unprecedented situational
awareness and highly detailed pictures of the battlespace.” Attack submarines
that today carry sensors and weapons could in the future provide logistical
support to and serve as command and control bases for off-board sensors and
“kill vehicles,” the CONOPS states. The networking of autonomous sensor
fields with manned and unmanned vehicles will change ASW from a
“platform-intensive” to a “sensor-rich” operation, it adds. 96
At a June 20, 2005, conference on the future of the Navy organized by the
American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Admiral Vernon Clark, who was the Chief of
Naval Operations until July 22, 2005, stated:
[The Chinese are] building submarines at a rapid rate. They’re buying them
from other countries. They’re building their own capabilities. And let me just
to make a long story short, I published a new ASW concept [of operations] a
Jason Ma, “ASW Concept Of Operations Sees ‘Sensor Rich Way Of Fighting Subs,”
Inside the Navy, February 7, 2005. A January 2005 article stated:
The Navy cannot fight diesel subs with “force on force,” such as sending
one sub to defeat another sub, because that is not cost effective, [Rear Admiral
John Waickwicz, chief of Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Command] told Inside
the Navy. For example, the new Virginia-class subs cost about $2 billion each,
while advanced diesel subs cost hundreds of millions of dollars each.
Instead of force on force, ASW tactics will emphasize using networked
sensors and communications to allow one platform — like a sub, Littoral Combat
Ship, or aircraft — to defeat multiple diesel subs, he said. “You have to be able
to destroy them at a very large rate, because potential enemies may have a large
number” of subs, he explained.
“We don’t have that luxury to go one against one anymore,” he added,
noting that individual ASW platforms will rely on their greater capability to take
on multiple subs. (Jason Ma, “Admiral: Navy’s ASW Tactics To Be Aggressive
And Offense-Minded,” Inside the Navy, January 17, 2005.)
couple of months ago. I fundamentally don’t believe that the old attrition
warfare[,] force on force anti-submarine warfare[,] construct is the right way to
go in the 21st century. [The questioner] mentioned that I had spent part of my
past life in the submarine warfare business. I have. I trailed the Soviets around.
I know what that’s about. And what I really believe is going to happen in the
future is that when we apply the netted force construct in anti-submarine warfare,
it will change the calculus in that area of warfighting forever. And it will be a
courageous commander who decides that he’s going to come waltzing into our
Implementing this new ASW concept of operations reportedly will require
overcoming some technical challenges, particularly with regard to linking together
large numbers of distributed sensors, some of which might be sonobuoys as small as
soda cans. 98
Countering Mines. Countering naval mines is a notoriously time-consuming
task that can require meticulous operations by participating surface ships,
submarines, and helicopters. The Navy’s mine countermeasures (MCM) capabilities
Transcript of conference, as posted on the Internet by AEI at [http://www.aei.org/events/
An October 2004 article stated:
more than just improving antisubmarine operations, Clark’s goal is to
“fundamentally change” ASW operations away from individual platforms —
ship, submarine or aircraft — to a system with the attributes of “pervasive
awareness, persistence and speed, all enabled by technological agility.”
To meet this goal, “we think we’re going to have to go offboard of our
platforms,” using unmanned aerial, surface and underwater vehicles, and a
network of distributed sensors to provide the identification and localization that
would allow quick transition to the attack, [Rear Admiral Mark W. Kenny, the
flag officer in charge of Task Force ASW] said. “That’s what we’re focused on:
(finding) a high number of quiet contacts in a demanding environment with a
timeline that requires us to gain access quickly.”
The task force has tested those concepts in at-sea experiments focused on
distributive systems, which could be an array of easily deployed underwater
sensors, passive and active, networked together and linked to manned platforms,
Among them is the Advanced Deployable System, which the Program
Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems currently is studying, along
with such other ASW-related concepts as a multisensor Torpedo Recognition and
Alertment Function Segment (previously known as Torpedo Recognition and
Alertment Function Processor) and the Multifunction Towed Array to improve
detection and tracking capability. (Otto Kreisher, “As Underwater Threat ReEmerges, Navy Renews Emphasis On ASW,” Seapower, October 2004, p. 15.)
Jason Ma, “Autonomous ASW Sensor Field Seen As High-Risk Technical Hurdle,” Inside
the Navy, June 6, 2005. See also Jason Ma, “Navy’s Surface Warfare Chief Cites Progress
In ASW Development,” Inside the Navy, January 17, 2005.
have been an area of concern in Congress and elsewhere for a number of years.99 The
Navy for the last several years has been developing several new MCM systems that
are scheduled to enter service over the next few years.100 Unmanned surface vehicles
(USVs) and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) are playing an increasing role
in MCM operations.
Operating Amidst IW/IO, EMP, And Nuclear Weapons. Operating
effectively in an environment that could be characterized by IW/IO and possibly
EMP or the use of nuclear weapons directly against Navy ships could require, among
measures to achieve and maintain strong computer network security;
hardening of ships, aircraft, and their various systems against EMP;
hardening of ships against the overpressure, thermal, and radiation
effects of a nuclear weapon that is detonated somewhat close to the
ship, but not close enough to destroy the ship outright.
Forces Ready by About 2010, or by a Later Date. As mentioned earlier,
some analysts speculate that China may attain (or believe that is has attained) a
capable maritime anti-access capability, or important elements of it, by about 2010,
while other observers believe this will happen some time after 2010. The issue of
whether or when China might attain such a capability can influence the kinds of
options that are available to U.S. policymakers for addressing the situation.
Options for a Conflict Between Now and 2010. Options that could enhance
U.S. Navy capabilities for a crisis or conflict in the Taiwan Strait area between now
and 2010 include, among others, the following:
increasing currently planned activities for physically surveying the
physical environment around Taiwan, so as to more quickly update
older data that might unreliable, and to fill in any gaps in
See, for example, General Accounting Office, Navy Acquisitions[:] Improved Littoral
War-Fighting Capabilities Needed, GAO-01-493, May 2001; and General Accounting
Office, Navy Mine Warfare[:] Plans to Improve Countermeasures Capabilities Unclear,
GAO/NSIAD-98-135, June 1998.
The Navy’s mine warfare plan is available on the Internet at [http://www.exwar.org/
Htm/4000.htm]. For additional discussions of the Navy’s mine warfare programs, see
Department of the Navy, Highlights of the Department of the Navy FY2006/FY2007 Budget,
Washington, 2005. (Office of Budget, February 2005) pp. 5-9; Richard R. Burgess, “New
Mine Countermeasure System Designs Are Hitting the Water,” Seapower, August 2005, p.
46, 48; Jason Ma, “Fielding Of Organic Mine Warfare Systems Slips At Least Two Years,”
Inside the Navy, March 21, 2005; William E. Landay III and Hunter C. Keeter, “Breaking
the Mold,” Seapower, March 2005, pp. 42, 44, 46; Scott C. Truver, “Mine Countermeasures
And Destruction,” Naval Forces, No. 3, 2004, pp. 63-64, 66-71; Glenn W. Goodman, Jr.,
“Organic Mine Countermeasures To Clear Path For Navy,” Armed Forces Journal, January
2004, p. 36.
understanding regarding how local atmospheric and water conditions
might affect the performance of radars and sonars;
increasing currently planned levels of monitoring and surveillance
of PLA forces that are likely to participate in a crisis or conflict in
the Taiwan Strait area;
increasing currently planned levels of contact between the U.S. Navy
and Taiwan military forces, so as to maintain a fully up-to-date U.S.
understanding of Taiwan military capabilities, plans, and doctrine
(and vice versa);
increasing currently planned military exercises that are tailored to
the potential requirements of a crisis or conflict in the Taiwan Strait
increasing the number of ships that are assigned to the Pacific Fleet,
or the number that are forward-homeported at locations such as
Japan, Guam, Hawaii, and perhaps Singapore, or the numbers of
deferring current plans for retiring existing ships or aircraft before
2010, particularly ships and aircraft whose nominal service lives
would otherwise extend to 2010 or beyond;
modernizing ships and aircraft now in service;
reactivating recently retired ships and aircraft; 101 and
procuring new items that can be completed between now and 2010,
such as weapons, aircraft, and Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs).
Options For A Conflict After 2010. Options that could enhance U.S. Navy
capabilities for a crisis or conflict in the Taiwan Strait area some time after 2010
include items from the above list, plus the procurement of larger ships that take
several years to build (e.g., SSNs, aircraft carriers, destroyers, and cruisers), and the
development and procurement of aircraft and weapons that are not currently ready
Capabilities for Maintaining Regional Presence and Influence. For
the U.S. Navy, maintaining regional presence and military influence in the Western
Pacific could place a premium on the following, among other things:
Potential candidates include, among others, Spruance (DD-963) class destroyers, which
could be reactivated as ASW platforms or missile shooters, Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)
class frigates and TAGOS-type ocean surveillance (i.e., towed-array sonar) ships, both of
which could be reactivated as ASW platforms, and ASW-capable aircraft such as S-3
carrier-based airplanes and P-3 land-based maritime patrol aircraft.
maintaining a substantial U.S. Navy ship presence throughout the
making frequent port calls in the region;
conducting frequent exercises with other navies in the region;
taking actions to ensure system compatibility between U.S. Navy
ships and ships of allied and friendly nations in the region; and
conducting frequent exchanges between U.S. Navy personnel and
military and political leaders of other countries in the region.
Factors influencing the Navy’s ability to maintain a substantial U.S. Navy ship
presence throughout the region include the total number of ships in the Navy’s
Pacific Fleet, the number of Navy ships forward-homeported at locations such as
Japan, Guam, Hawaii, and perhaps Singapore, and ship-crewing and -deployment
approaches (e.g., six-month deployments and single crews vs. longer deployments
with crew rotation).
Capabilities for Tracking and Countering PLA SSBNs. Detecting,
tracking, and if necessary countering PLA Navy SSBNs equipped with long-range
SLBMs could require some or all of the following:
a seabed-based sensor network analogous to the Sound Surveillance
System (SOSUS) that the U.S. Navy used during the Cold War to
detect and track Soviet nuclear-powered submarines;
ocean surveillance ships with additional sonars, which would be
similar to the TAGOS-type ocean-surveillance ships that the Navy
also used during the Cold War to help detect and track Soviet
nuclear-powered submarines; and
enough SSNs so that some can be assigned to tracking and if
necessary attacking PLA SSBNs. 102
Potential Oversight Issues For Congress
Potential oversight questions for Congress arising from China’s military
modernization and its potential implications for required U.S. Navy capabilities can
be organized into three groups:
questions relating to China’s military modernization as a defenseplanning priority;
Additional measures that could assist in tracking PLA SSBNs include satellite
surveillance (particularly when the SSBNs are in port or if they surface during their
deployments) and human intelligence.
questions relating to U.S. Navy force structure and basing
questions relating to Navy warfare areas and programs.
Each of these is discussed below.
China as a Defense-Planning Priority
DOD Planning. Is DOD giving adequate weight in the 2005 Quadrennial
Defense Review (QDR) and other planning activities to China’s military
modernization as opposed to other concerns, such as current operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism (GWOT) generally? Is DOD giving
adequate weight in its planning to the funding needs of the Navy as opposed to those
of the other services, such as the Army?
Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to increased focus on the funding
needs of the Army and Marine Corps, since these two services are heavily committed
to those operations. Placing increasing emphasis on China in DOD planning, on the
other hand, would likely lead to increased focus on the funding needs of the Navy
and Air Force, since these two services are generally viewed as the ones most likely
to be of the most importance for a crisis or conflict in the Taiwan Strait area. In a
situation of finite DOD resources, striking the correct planning balance between
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the GWOT generally, and China’s military
modernization is viewed by some observers as a key DOD planning challenge.
Navy Planning. Is the Navy is giving adequate weight in its planning to
China’s military modernization as opposed to other concerns, such as the GWOT?
Required Navy capabilities for participating in the GWOT overlap with, but are
not identical to, required Navy capabilities for responding to China’s naval
modernization. In a situation of finite Navy resources, striking the correct balance
between investments for participating in the GWOT and those for responding to
China’s naval modernization is viewed by some observers as a key Navy planning
The Navy in recent months has taken some actions that reflect an interest in
increasing the Navy’s role in the GWOT. In June 2005, for example, Admiral
Vernon Clark, who was the Chief of Naval Operations until July 22, 2005, directed
the Navy to take nine “actions to expand the Navy’s capabilities to prosecute the
GWOT...” Among these are the establishment of a Navy riverine force, the
establishment of a reserve civil affairs battalion, the establishment of a Foreign Area
Office (FAO) community in the Navy, and concept development work for a potential
Navy expeditionary combat battalion composed of sailors rather than Marines. “To
the extent possible,” the Navy wants to implement these actions without increasing
Navy active and reserve end strength. 103 In October 2005, Admiral Clark’s successor
as CNO, Admiral Michael Mullen, issued a guidance statement for the Navy for 2006
that contained follow-on initiatives intended to strengthen the Navy’s role in the
GWOT. 104 The Navy has also commissioned a study from the Naval Studies Board
(an arm of the National Academy of Sciences) on the adequacy of the role of naval
forces in the GWOT and options for enhancing that role. 105
At the same time, the Navy has affirmed the importance of China’s military
modernization in its budget planning. At a June 20, 2005 conference on the future
of the Navy organized by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), for example,
Admiral Clark was asked to comment on China. He stated in part:
Well, I think that, you know, we’re always quick to point out that China’s
not our enemy, but China is building a very capable maritime capability, and so
we should not be blind to that.
So what does it mean? Well, here’s what I believe that it means. I believe
that if you study the Chinese, you see that there’s been some change in their
thinking over the course of the last number of years. Here’s this mammoth land,
continent; here’s — you know, it would be easy to think about this country as
being land-centric in terms of its national security focus, but what we’re seeing
is that that really isn’t where they’re putting their money. They’re putting their
investments in, and what it looks like, if you interpret their actions, is that their
primary concerns are in the area of aviation and maritime capability that other
nations would bring to bear in their area, in their region of the world. And so
they’re trying to build a capability to make sure that they’re not pushed into a
corner in their own part of the world.
I understand that this morning there was conjecture about their ability to
build missile systems that will threaten long-range land bases and moving targets
in the future, like ships at sea. And I will tell you that whether they’re going to
do that or not, I guarantee you that I believe that it is my duty and responsibility
to expect that, based on what I understand about what they’re doing, to expect
that they’re trying to do that. And I will tell you that the budget submit that’s on
the Hill is providing the kind of capability to make sure that the United States
See July 12, 2005 memorandum for distribution from Director, Navy Staff on
implementation of Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) guidance — global war on terrorism
(GWOT) capabilities, posted in the “Defense Plus” section of
[http://www.insidedefense.com]. See also, Andrew Scutro, “Navy To Establish
Expeditionary And Riverine Forces,” NavyTimes.com, July 7, 2005; Jason Sherman, “Navy
To Establish Ground Combat Units, River Force For Terror War,” Inside the Navy, July 11,
2005; Jason Ma, “For War On Terror, Navy Could Field New ‘SOF-Lite Ground Troops,”
July 18, 2005; Christian Lowe, “U.S. Navy Considers New Combat Battalion,” Defense
News, July 25, 2005; “Navy Creates Riverines, Landing Unit To Lighten Marine, Army
Force Load,” Seapower, August 2005, pp. 6-7.
M. G. Mullen, CNO Guidance for 2006, Meeting the Challenge of a New Era.
Washington, 2005. 9 pp.
Christopher J. Castelli, “Navy Commissions Study On ‘Adequacy’ Of Naval Role In
War On Terror,” Inside the Navy, July 11, 2005.
Navy can fight in that theater or exist in that theater, understanding the kind of
capability that they’re trying to bring to bear. 106
Navy Force Structure and Basing Arrangements
Size of the Fleet. Is the Navy planning a fleet with enough ships to address
potential challenges posed by China’s naval modernization while also meeting other
As of November 2005, the Navy included a total of about 280 ships of various
kinds. In early 2005, the Navy stated that it wanted the fleet in the future to include
a total of 260 to 325 ships.107 The Navy has stated that it will announce a successor
ship force structure plan by early 2006. A key potential issue for Congress in
assessing the adequacy of the Navy’s ship force structure plan is whether it includes
enough ships to address potential challenges posed by China’s naval modernization
while also meeting other responsibilities, including maintaining forward deployments
of Navy ships in the Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean region and the Mediterranean Sea and
conducting less-frequent operations in other parts of the world, such as the
Caribbean, the waters around South America, and the waters off West Africa. If
increased numbers of Navy ships are needed to address potential challenges posed
by China’s naval modernization, fewer ships might be available for meeting other
Some Members of Congress have expressed concern in recent years that the
declining total number of ships in the Navy may make it difficult for the Navy to
perform all if its various missions, at least not without putting undue stress on Navy
personnel and equipment. In response, Navy officials in recent years have argued
that the total number of ships in the Navy is no longer, by itself, a very good measure
of total Navy capability over time, because of the significant increase in individual
Navy ship and aircraft capabilities in recent years and the effect that computer
networking technology has on further increasing the collective capability of Navy
ships and aircraft. Navy officials acknowledge, however, that ship numbers are one
factor in understanding Navy capabilities, particularly for conducting simultaneous
operations of different kinds in multiple locations around the world.
Division of Fleet Between Atlantic and Pacific. Should a greater
percentage of the Navy be assigned to the Pacific Fleet? The division of the Navy’s
ships between the Atlantic and Pacific fleets is a longstanding question in U.S. Navy
planning. Atlantic Fleet ships conduct operations in the North and South Atlantic,
the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean Sea, while Pacific Fleet ships conduct
operations in the Pacific Ocean, including the Western Pacific. Ships from both
fleets are used to conduct operations in the Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean area. Atlantic
Fleet ships homeported on the U.S. East Coast that use the Suez Canal have a shorter
Transcript of conference, as posted on the Internet by AEI at [http://www.aei.org/events/
For a discussion, see CRS Report RL32665, Potential Navy Force Structure and
Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
transit distance to the Persian Gulf than do Pacific Fleet ships homeported on the
U.S. West Coast.
In recent years, roughly 45% to 47% of the Navy’s ships have been assigned to
the Pacific Fleet, including 46% to 50% of the Navy’s SSNs and 45% to 48% of the
Navy’s cruisers, destroyers, and frigates. Increasing the share of the Navy assigned
to the Pacific Fleet could, other things held equal, permit the Navy to maintain a
larger number of ships forward deployed to the Western Pacific. Using the size of
the Navy as of the end of FY2005 (282 ships, including 54 SSNs and 99 cruisers,
destroyers, and frigates), increasing the Pacific Fleet’s share by 5 or 10 percentage
points would result in the Pacific fleet having an additional 14 to 28 ships, including
roughly 3 to 5 SSNs and roughly 5 to 10 to cruisers, destroyers, and frigates.
In recent years, 7 of the Navy’s 12 aircraft carriers have been assigned to the
Atlantic Fleet and 5 have been assigned to the Pacific Fleet. This division reflects
in part a program currently underway to conduct a mid-life nuclear refueling complex
overhaul (RCOH) on each of the Navy’s nuclear-powered carriers. This program
results, at any given moment, in one nuclear-powered carrier being homeported at
Newport News, VA, the location of the shipyard where the work is conducted.
Absent the nuclear carrier RCOH program, the division of carriers between the
Atlantic and Pacific might be 6 and 6, respectively, rather than 7 and 5. Whether the
division of carriers between the two fleets is 7 and 5 or 6 and 6, shifting one carrier
from the Atlantic to the Pacific would increase the Pacific Fleet’s share of the carrier
force by about 8 percentage points.
Supporters of shifting a greater share of the Navy to the Pacific Fleet could
argue that responding to China’s naval modernization requires, among other things,
maintaining an increased number of ships forward deployed to the Western Pacific,
and that the low likelihood of war in Europe and the ability of U.S. allies in Europe
to deploy their own ships to the Mediterranean reduces the number of ships that the
Navy needs to maintain there. Opponents of this option could argue that shifting
Navy ships from the U.S. East Coast to the U.S. West Coast could make it harder to
maintain deployments of a given number of ships to the Persian Gulf (due to the
increase in transit distance to the Gulf for ships transferred from the East Coast to the
West Coast) and could make it more difficult for the Navy to balance the
maintenance demands of the fleet against the locations of repair and overhaul yards,
many of which are located on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Forward Homeporting in the Western Pacific. Is the Navy moving
quickly enough to forward-homeport additional ships in the Western Pacific? Should
the Navy expand the number of additional ships it is thinking of homeporting in the
Increasing the number of ships forward homeported in the Western Pacific can
increase both the number of ships that the Navy can maintain forward-deployed to
that area on a day to day basis, and the number that can arrive in the early stages of
a conflict in the Western Pacific, including the Taiwan Strait area. As mentioned
earlier, the Navy may transfer an additional aircraft carrier from the continental
United States to Hawaii or Guam, and is studying options for transferring perhaps a
few additional SSNs to Hawaii or Guam. Observers who are concerned about
deterring or responding to a conflict in the Taiwan Strait area by 2010 might
emphasize the importance of implementing these actions as quickly as possible.
In addition, observers concerned about China’s military modernization might
argue in favor of expanding the number of ships to be transferred to Western Pacific
home ports. These additional ships could include SSNs, converted Trident cruise
missile submarines (SSGNs), surface combatants, and perhaps one more aircraft
carrier. The final report of the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) stated that
“The Secretary of the Navy will increase aircraft carrier battlegroup presence in the
Western Pacific and will explore options for homeporting an additional three to four
surface combatants, and guided missile submarines (SSGNs), in that area. 108 A 2002
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report discussed the option of homeporting a
total of up to 11 SSNs at Guam. 109 Expanding the number of ships to be homeported
in the Western Pacific could require construction of additional homeporting facilities,
particularly in locations such as Guam. Transferring ships from the U.S. West Coast
to the Western Pacific can also have implications for crew training and ship
maintenance for those ships.
Number of Aircraft Carriers. Should the Navy maintain a force of 12
carriers, or a smaller number? As part of its FY2006 budget submission, the Navy
proposed accelerating the retirement of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CV-67)
to FY2006 and reducing the size of the carrier force from 12 ships to 11. The issue
is discussed at some length in another CRS report. 110 Advocates of maintaining a
force of not less than 12 carriers could argue that, in light of China’s naval
modernization, including the introduction of new land-based fighters and strike
fighters and the possibility that the PLA might, as part of a conflict in the Taiwan
Strait area, use TBMs, LACMs, or special operations forces to attack U.S. land bases
in the Western Pacific, a force of at least 12 carriers is needed to deter or prevail in
such a conflict. Those supporting a reduction in the carrier force to 11 or fewer ships
could argue that such a reduction is acceptable in light of the increasing capabilities
of individual Navy carrier air wings, the Navy’s plan to transfer an additional carrier
to the Western Pacific, and options for improving the defenses of U.S. bases in the
Western Pacific against attack from TBMs, LACMs, and special operations forces.
Number of Attack Submarines (SSNs). Should the number of nuclearpowered attack submarines be about 40, about 55, or some other number? The Navy
at the end of FY2005 operated a total of 54 SSNs. The Navy’s early-2005 plan for
a fleet of 260 to 325 ships includes a total of 37 to 41 SSNs plus four converted
Trident cruise missile submarines, or SSGNs. The number of SSNs that will be
included in the new force structure plan that the Navy is expected to announce by
early 2006 is not clear. Supporters of SSNs argue that the Navy needs to maintain
U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, Washington, 2001
(September 30, 2001) p. 27.
U.S. Congressional Budget Office, Increasing the Mission Capability of the Attack
Submarine Force, Washington, CBO, 2002. (A CBO Study, March 2002), 41 pp.
CRS Report RL32731, Navy Aircraft Carriers: Proposed Retirement of USS John F.
Kennedy — Issues and Options for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
a force of at least 55 boats, if not more. The issue of the SSN force-level goal is
discussed at length in another CRS report. 111
Supporters of SSNs have argued in recent months that China’s naval
modernization, and in particular China’s submarine modernization, is a significant
reason for supporting a force of 55 or more SSNs rather than a lower number such
as 40. The argument was an element of the successful campaign in 2005 by
supporters of the New London, CT, submarine base to convince the Base
Realignment and Closure (BRAC) to reject DOD’s recommendation to close the
Although the discussion is sometimes cast in terms of U.S. SSNs fighting PLA
Navy submarines, this captures only a part of how U.S. SSNs would fit into potential
U.S. Navy operations against PLA forces. On the one hand, ASW is conducted by
platforms other than SSNs, and an SSN is not always the best platform for countering
an enemy submarine. On the other hand, SSNs perform a number of potentially
significant missions other than ASW.
Supporters of maintaining a larger number of SSNs in light of China’s naval
modernization could argue that, in addition to participating in operations against PLA
Navy submarines, U.S. SSNs could do the following:
Conduct pre-crisis covert intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance (ISR) of PLA Navy forces and bases. Such
operations could improve U.S. understanding PLA capabilities and
Covertly lay mines around China’s naval bases. In light of the
PLA Navy’s limited mine countermeasures capabilities, the presence
of mines around PLA Navy bases could significantly delay the
deployment of PLA Navy forces at the outset of a crisis or conflict.
Attack or threaten PLA Navy surface ships. In light of the PLA
Navy’s limitations in ASW, a threat from U.S. SSNs could
substantially complicate PLA military planning, particularly for an
intended short-duration conflict.
Fire Tomahawk cruise missiles from unexpected locations.
Tomahawks could be used to attack on PLA command and control
nodes, air bases, and TBM, LACM, ASCM, and SAM launch sites.
CRS Report RL32418, Navy Attack Submarine Force-Level Goal and Procurement Rate:
Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
See, for example, Chris Johnson, “Lawmaker Points To China Buildup In Effort To
Protect Sub Base,” Inside the Navy, August 1, 2005; Anthony Cronin, “Hunter Says China
Bolsters Case To Keep Sub Base Open,” New London (CT) Day, June 28, 2005; William
Yardley, “If Bases Aren’t Needed, Some Fear Fleet Is Next,” New York Times, August 22,
Covertly insert and recover special operations forces (SOF).
SOF can be used to attack PLA Navy bases or other PLA coastal
Supporters of maintaining a larger number of SSNs could also argue that
submerged U.S. SSNs cannot be attacked by conventionally armed TBMs and
ASCMs and are less vulnerable than are U.S. Navy surface ships to EMP effects and
to certain other nuclear weapon effects.
Supporters of maintaining a smaller number of SSNs could argue that U.S.
SSNs, though very capable in certain respects, are less capable in others. U.S. SSNs,
they can argue, cannot shoot down enemy missiles or aircraft, nor can they act as
platforms for operating manned aircraft. U.S. cruisers and destroyers, they could
argue, carry substantial numbers of Tomahawks. In light of the complementary
capabilities of Navy platforms and the need for an array of U.S. Navy capabilities in
operations against PLA forces, they could argue, the need for SSNs needs to be
balanced against the need for aircraft carriers and surface combatants.
ASW-Capable Ships and Aircraft. Will the Navy have enough ASWcapable ships and aircraft between now and 2010? Should recently deactivated
ASW-capable ships and aircraft be returned to service? The Navy in recent years
has deactivated a substantial number of ASW-capable ships and aircraft, including
Spruance (DD-963) class destroyers, Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7) class frigates,
TAGOS-type ocean surveillance ships, carrier-based S-3 airplanes, and land-based
P-3 maritime patrol aircraft. Since ASW traditionally has been a platform-intensive
undertaking — meaning that a significant number of platforms (e.g., ships and
aircraft) traditionally has been required to conduct an effective ASW operation
against a small number of enemy submarines, or even a single submarine — some
observers have expressed concern about the resulting decline in numbers of U.S.
Navy ASW-capable platforms. 113
As discussed earlier, the Navy plans to shift to a new, less platform-intensive
ASW concept of operations. The Navy also plans to introduce new ASW-capable
platforms in coming years, including a substantial number of Littoral Combat Ships
(LCSs). Fully realizing the new ASW concept of operations, however, may take
some time, particularly in light of the technical challenges involved, and LCSs will
not be available in large numbers until after 2010. This raises a potential question
of whether the Navy will have enough ASW-capable ships and aircraft between now
and 2010, and whether the Navy should reactivate recently retired ASW-capable
platforms and keep them in service until the new ASW concept is substantially
implemented and larger numbers of LCSs and other new ASW-capable platforms
join the fleet.
Advocates of this option could argue that the recent retirements of ASWcapable platforms occurred before the dimensions of the PLA Navy submarine
See, for example, John R. Benedict, “The Unraveling And Revitalization Of U.S. Navy
Antisubmarine Warfare,” Naval War College Review, spring 2005, pp. 93-120, particularly
pp. 104-106; and the statement by Lyle J. Goldstein in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, pp. 149-150.
modernization effort were fully understood. Opponents could argue that even with
these recent retirements, the Navy retains a substantial number of such platforms,
including SSNs, Aegis cruisers and destroyers, remaining Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG7) class frigates, carrier- and surface combatant-based SH-60 helicopters, and
remaining P-3s. They could also argue that there are more cost-effective ways to
improve the Navy’s ASW capabilities between now and 2010, such as increased
ASW training and exercises (see discussion below).
Navy Warfare Areas and Programs
Replacement for NAD Program. 114 Should the canceled Navy Area
Defense (NAD) program be replaced with a new sea-based terminal missile defense
In December 2001, DOD announced that it had canceled the Navy Area Defense
(NAD) program, the program that was being pursued as the Sea-Based Terminal
portion of the Administration’s overall missile-defense effort. (The NAD program
was also sometimes called the Navy Lower Tier program.) In announcing its
decision, DOD cited poor performance, significant cost overruns, and substantial
The NAD system was to have been deployed on Navy Aegis cruisers and
destroyers. It was designed to intercept short- and medium-range theater ballistic
missiles in the final, or descent, phase of flight, so as to provide local-area defense
of U.S. ships and friendly forces, ports, airfields, and other critical assets ashore. The
program involved modifying both the Aegis ships’ radar capabilities and the Standard
SM-2 Block IV air-defense missile fired by Aegis ships. The missile, as modified,
was called the Block IVA version. The system was designed to intercept descending
missiles within the Earth’s atmosphere (endoatmospheric intercept) and destroy them
with the Block IVA missile’s blast-fragmentation warhead.
Following cancellation of the program, DOD officials stated that the
requirement for a sea-based terminal system remained intact. This led some
observers to believe that a replacement for the NAD program might be initiated. In
May 2002, however, DOD announced that instead of starting a replacement program,
MDA had instead decided on a two-part strategy to (1) modify the Standard SM-3
missile — the missile to be used in the sea-based midcourse (i.e., Upper Tier)
program — to intercept ballistic missiles at somewhat lower altitudes, and (2)
modify the SM-2 Block four air defense missile (i.e., a missile designed to shoot
down aircraft and cruise missiles) to cover some of the remaining portion of the
sea-based terminal defense requirement. DOD officials said the two modified
missiles could together provide much (but not all) of the capability that was to have
been provided by the NAD program. One aim of the modification strategy, DOD
This section includes material adapted from the discussion of the NAD program in CRS
Report RL31111, Missile Defense: The Current Debate, coordinated by Steven A. Hildreth.
officials suggested, was to avoid the added costs to the missile defense program of
starting a replacement sea-based terminal defense program.
In October 2002, it was reported that
Senior navy officials, however, continue to speak of the need for a
sea-based terminal BMD capability “sooner rather than later” and have proposed
a path to get there. “The cancellation of the Navy Area missile defence
programme left a huge hole in our developing basket of missile-defence
capabilities,” said Adm. [Michael] Mullen. “Cancelling the programme didn’t
eliminate the warfighting requirement.”
“The nation, not just the navy, needs a sea-based area missile defence
capability, not to protect our ships as much as to protect our forces ashore,
airports and seaports of debarkation” and critical overseas infrastructure
including protection of friends and allies. 115
The above-quoted Admiral Mullen became the Chief of Naval Operations
(CNO) on July 22, 2005.
In light of PLA TBM modernization efforts, including the possibility of TBMs
equipped with MaRVs capable of hitting moving ships at sea, one issue is whether
a new sea-based terminal-defense procurement program should be started to replace
all (not just most) of the capability that was to have been provided by the NAD
program, and perhaps even improve on the NAD’s planned capability. In July 2004
it was reported that
The Navy’s senior leadership is rebuilding the case for a sea-based terminal
missile defense requirement that would protect U.S. forces flowing through
foreign ports and Navy ships from short-range missiles, according to Vice Adm.
John Nathman, the Navy’s top requirements advocate.
The new requirement, Nathman said, would fill the gap left when the
Pentagon terminated the Navy Area missile defense program in December 2001.
... However, he emphasized the Navy is not looking to reinstate the old [NAD]
system. “That’s exactly what we are not talking about,” he said March 24....
The need to bring back a terminal missile defense program was made clear
after reviewing the “analytic case” for the requirement, he said. Though
Nathman could only talk in general terms about the analysis, due to its classified
nature, he said its primary focus was “pacing the threat” issues. Such issues
involve threats that are not a concern today, but could be in the future, he said.
Part of the purpose of the study was to look at the potential time line for those
threats and the regions where they could emerge. 116
Michael Sirak, “Sea-Based Ballistic Missile Defence: The ‘Standard’ Response,” Jane’s
Defence Weekly, October 30, 2002.
Malina Brown, “Navy Rebuilding Case For Terminal Missile Defense Requirement,”
Inside the Navy, April 19, 2004.
Reported options for a NAD-replacement program include a system using a
modified version of the Army’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptor
or a system using a modified version of the Navy’s new Standard Missile 6 Extended
Range Active Missile (SM-6 ERAM) air defense missile. 117
Aegis Radar Upgrades. Should the radar capabilities of the Navy’s Aegis
cruisers and destroyers be upgraded more quickly or extensively than now planned?
Current plans for upgrading the radar capabilities of the Navy’s Aegis cruisers
and destroyers include the Aegis ballistic missile defense signal processor (BSP),
which forms part of the planned Block 06 version of the Navy’s Aegis ballistic
missile defense capability. Installing the Aegis BSP improves the ballistic missile
target-discrimination performance of the Aegis ship’s SPY-1 phased array radar.
In light of PLA TBM modernization efforts, including the possibility of TBMs
equipped with MaRVs capable of hitting moving ships at sea, one issue is whether
current plans for developing and installing the Aegis BSP are adequate, and whether
those plans are sufficiently funded. A second issue is whether there are other
opportunities for improving the radar capabilities of the Navy’s Aegis cruisers and
destroyers that are not currently being pursued or are funded at limited levels, and if
so, whether funding for these efforts should be increased.
Ships with DD(X)/CG(X) Radar Capabilities. Should planned annual
procurement rates for ships with DD(X)/CG(X) radar capabilities be increased?
The Navy plans to procure a new kind of destroyer called the DD(X) and a new
kind of cruiser called the CG(X). The Navy plans to begin DD(X) procurement in
FY2007, and CG(X) procurement in FY2011. The Navy had earlier planned to begin
CG(X) procurement in FY2018, but accelerated the planned start of procurement to
FY2011 as part of its FY2006-FY2011 Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP). DD(X)s
and CG(X)s would take about five years to build, so the first DD(X), if procured in
FY2007, might enter service in 2012, and the first CG(X), if procured in FY2011,
might enter service in 2016.
The Navy states that the DD(X)’s radar capabilities will be greater in certain
respects than those of Navy Aegis ships. The radar capabilities of the CG(X) are to
be greater still, and the CG(X) has been justified primarily in connection with future
air and missile defense operations.
Estimated DD(X)/CG(X) procurement costs increased substantially between
2004 and 2005. Apparently as a consequence of these increased costs, the FY2006FY2011 FYDP submitted to Congress in early 2005 reduced planned DD(X)
procurement to one ship per year . The reduction in the planned DD(X) procurement
See, for example, Jason Ma and Christopher J. Castelli, “Adaptation Of PAC-3 For SeaBased Terminal Missile Defense Examined,” Inside the Navy, July 19, 2004; Malina Brown,
“Navy Rebuilding Case For Terminal Missile Defense Requirement,” Inside the Navy, April
rate suggests that, unless budget conditions change, the combined DD(X)/CG(X)
procurement rate might remain at one ship per year beyond FY2011.118
If improvements to Aegis radar capabilities are not sufficient to achieve the
Navy’s desired radar capability for countering modernized PLA TBMs, then
DD(X)/CG(X) radar capabilities could become important to achieving this desired
capability. If so, then a potential additional issue raised by PLA TBM modernization
efforts is whether a combined DD(X)/CG(X) procurement rate of one ship per year
would be sufficient to achieve this desired capability in a timely manner. If the Navy
in the future maintains a total of 11 or 12 carrier strike groups (CSGs), and if
DD(X)/CG(X) procurement proceeds at a rate of one ship per year, the Navy would
not have 11 or 12 DD(X)s and CG(X)s — one DD(X) or CG(X) for each of 11 or 12
CSGs — until 2022 or 2023. If CG(X)s are considered preferable to DD(X)s for
missile defense operations, then the earliest the Navy could have 11 or 12 CG(X)s
would be 2026 or 2027.
DD(X)/CG(X) radar technologies could be introduced into the fleet more
quickly by procuring DD(X)s and CG(X)s at a higher rate, such as two ships per year ,
which is the rate the Navy envisaged in a report the Navy provided to Congress in
2003. A DD(X)/CG(X) procurement rate of two ships per year, however, could make
it more difficult for the Navy to procure other kinds of ships or meet other funding
needs , particularly in light of the recent growth in estimated DD(X)/CG(X)
A potential alternative strategy would be to design a reduced-cost alternative to
the DD(X)/CG(X) that preserves DD(X)/CG(X) radar capabilities while reducing
other DD(X)/CG(X) payload elements. Such a ship could more easily be procured
at a rate of two ships per year within available resources. The option of a reducedcost alternative to the DD(X)/CG(X) that preserves certain DD(X)/CG(X)
capabilities while reducing others is discussed in more detail in another CRS
Block II/Block IIA Version of SM-3 Interceptor. If feasible, should the
effort to develop the Block II/Block IIA version of the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3)
interceptor missile be accelerated?
The Navy plans to use the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) interceptor for
intercepting TBMs during the midcourse portion of their flight. As part of the Aegis
ballistic missile defense block upgrade strategy, the United States and Japan are
cooperating in developing technologies for a more-capable version of the SM-3
missile called the SM-3 Block II/Block IIA. In contrast to the current version of the
SM-3, which has a 21-inch-diameter booster stage but is 13.5 inches in diameter
along the remainder of its length, the Block II/Block IIA version would have a 21-
For more on the DD(X) and CG(X), see CRS Report RS20159, Navy DD(X) and CG(X)
Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke; and CRS Report
RL32109, Navy DD(X), CG(X), and LCS Ship Acquisition Programs: Oversight Issues and
Options for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
See the “Options For Congress” section of CRS Report RL32109, op cit.
inch diameter along its entire length. The increase in diameter to a uniform 21 inches
would give the missile a burnout velocity (a maximum velocity, reached at the time
the propulsion stack burns out) that is 45% to 60% greater than that of the current
13.5-inch version of the SM-3. 120 The Block IIA version would also include a
improved kinetic warhead. 121 The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) states that the
Block II/Block IIA version of the missile could “engage many [ballistic missile]
targets that would outpace, fly over, or be beyond the engagement range” of earlier
versions of the SM-3, and that
the net result, when coupled with enhanced discrimination capability, is more
types and ranges of engageable [ballistic missile] targets; with greater probability
of kill, and a large increase in defenses “footprint” or geography predicted....
The SM-3 Blk II/IIA missile with it[s] full 21-inch propulsion stack provides the
necessary fly out acceleration to engage IRBM and certain ICBM threats.122
Regarding the status of the program, MDA states that “The Block II/IIA
development plan is undergoing refinement. MDA plans to proceed with the
development of the SM-3 Blk II/IIA missile variant if an agreeable cost share with
Japan can be reached.... [The currently envisaged development plan] may have to be
tempered by budget realities for the agency.”123
In March 2005, the estimated total development cost for the Block II/Block IIA
missile was reportedly $1.4 billion.124 In September 2005, it was reported that this
estimate had more than doubled, to about $3 billion.125 MDA had estimated that the
The 13.5-inch version has a reported burnout velocity of 3.0 to 3.5 kilometers per second
(kps). See, for example, J. D. Marshall, The Future Of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense,
point paper dated October 15, 2004, available at
[http://www.marshall.org/pdf/materials/259.pdf]; “STANDARD Missile-3 Destroyers a
Ballistic Missile Target in Test of Sea-based Missile Defense System,” Raytheon news
release c i r c a J anuary 26, 2002, available on the Internet at
STORY=/www/story/01-26-2002/0001655926&EDATE=Jan+26,+2002]; and Hans Mark,
“A White Paper on the Defense Against Ballistic Missiles,” The Bridge, summer 2001, pp.
17-26, available on the Internet at [http://www.nae.edu/nae/bridgecom.nsf/weblinks/
NAEW-63BM86/$FILE/BrSum01.pdf?OpenElement]. See also the section on “Sea-Based
Midcourse” in CRS Report RL31111, Missile Defense: The Current Debate, coordinated
by Steven A. Hildreth.
Source for information on SM-3: Missile Defense Agency, “Aegis Ballistic Missile
Defense SM-3 Block IIA (21-Inch) Missile Plan (U), August 2005,” a 9-page point paper
provided by MDA to CRS, August 24, 2005.
“Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense SM-3 Block IIA (21-Inch) Missile Plan (U), August
2005,” op cit, pp. 3-4.
Ibid., p. 3.
Aarti Shah, “U.S. Navy Working With Japanese On Billion-Dollar Missile Upgrade,”
Inside the Navy, March 14, 2005.
“Cost Of Joint Japan-U.S. Interceptor System Triples,” Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan),
September 25, 2005.
missile could enter service in 2013 or 2014,126 but this date reportedly has now
slipped to 2015.127
In light of PLA TBM modernization efforts, a potential question is whether, if
feasible, the effort to develop the Block II/Block IIA missile should be accelerated,
and if so, whether this should be done even if this requires the United States to
assume a greater share of the development cost. A key factor in this issue could be
assessments of potential PLA deployments of longer-ranged PLA TBMs.
Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI). Should funding for development of the
Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) be increased?
The Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) is a proposed new ballistic missile
interceptor that, if developed, would be used as a ground-based interceptor and
perhaps subsequently as a sea-based interceptor. Compared to the SM-3, the KEI
would be much larger (perhaps 40 inches in diameter and 36 feet in length) and
would have a much higher burnout velocity. Basing the KEI on a ship would require
the ship to have missile-launch tubes that are bigger than those currently installed on
Navy cruisers, destroyers, and attack submarines. The Missile Defense Agency
(MDA), which has been studying possibilities for basing the KEI at sea, plans to
select a preferred platform in May 2006. 128 Because of its much higher burnout
velocity, the KEI could be used to intercept longer-ranged ballistic missiles,
including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) during the boost and early
ascent phases of their flights. Development funding for the KEI has been reduced in
recent budgets, slowing the missile’s development schedule. Under current plans,
the missile could become available for Navy use in 2014-2015. 129
Although the KEI is often discussed in connection with intercepting ICBMs, it
might also be of value as a missile for intercepting TBMs, particularly longer-range
TBMs, which are called Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs). If so, then
in the context of this report, one potential question is whether the Navy should use
the KEI as a complement to the SM-3 for countering PLA TBMs, and if so, whether
development funding for the KEI should be increased so as to make the missile
available for Navy use before 2014-2015.
Ships with Missile-Launch Tubes. Should the planned number of Navy
missile-launch tubes be increased, and if so, how might this be done?
“Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense SM-3 Block IIA (21-Inch) Missile Plan (U), August
2005,” op cit, p. 7.
“Cost Of Joint Japan-U.S. Interceptor System Triples,” Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan),
September 25, 2005.
Marc Selinger, “MDA TO Pick Platform For Sea-Based KEI in May,” Aerospace Daily
& Defense Report,” August 19, 2005: 2.
Government Accountability Office, Defense Acquisitions[:] Assessments of Selected
Major Weapon Programs, GAO-05-301, March 2005, pp. 89-90. See also Thomas Duffy,
“Northrop, MDA Working On KEI Changes Spurred By $800 Million Cut,” Inside Missile
Defense, March 30, 2005: p. 1.
Missile-launch tubes on U.S. Navy surface combatants, which are installed in
batteries called vertical launch systems (VLSs), are used for storing and firing various
weapons, including Tomahawk cruise missiles, antisubmarine rockets, air defense
missiles, and SM-3 ballistic missile defense interceptors. The potential need to
counter hundreds of PLA TBMs raises a potential question of whether U.S. Navy
forces involved in a conflict in the Taiwan Strait area would have enough missile
launch tubes to store and fire required numbers of SM-3s while also meeting needs
for storing adequate numbers of other types of weapons.
Options for increasing the planned number of missile-launch tubes in the fleet
include reactivating VLS-equipped Spruance (DD-963) class destroyers (61 tubes per
ship), building additional Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class Aegis destroyers (96 tubes
per ship), building additional DD(X)s (80 tubes per ship), building additional CG(X)s
(more than 80 tubes per ship), or designing and procuring a new and perhaps lowcost missile-tube ship of some kind. Options for a new-design ship include, among
a large ship equipped with hundreds of missile-launch tubes, 130
an intermediate size ship with several dozen tubes,
a small and possibly fast ship equipped with a few dozen tubes, and
a submarine equipped with perhaps several dozen tubes.
Mix of F/A-18E/Fs and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs). Should the
Navy’s planned mix of carrier-based F/A-18E/F strike fighters and F-35 Joint Strike
Fighters (JSFs) be changed to include more JSFs and fewer F/A-18E/Fs?
The Department of the Navy, which includes the Navy and the Marine Corps,
currently plans to procure a total of 462 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighters and
a total of 680 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs). The F/A-18E/Fs would be operated
by the Navy, and the JSFs would be operated by both services. The division of JSFs
between the Navy and Marine Corps is under review, but earlier plans showed the
Navy procuring a total of about 300 JSFs. Marine Corps JSFs could be operated
from Navy carriers to perform Navy missions. The F/A-18E/F incorporates a few
stealth features and is believed to be very capable in air-to-air combat. Compared to
the F/A-18E/F, the JSF is much more stealthy and is believed to be more capable in
Such a ship might be similar in some respects to the arsenal ship concept that the Navy
pursued in 1996-1997. For more on the arsenal ship, see archived CRS Report 97-455,
Navy/DARPA Arsenal Ship Program: Issues and Options for Congress; and archived CRS
Report 97-1044, Navy/DARPA Maritime Fire Support Demonstrator (Arsenal Ship)
Program: Issues Arising From Its Termination, both by Ronald O’Rourke. Both reports are
out of print and are available directly from the author.
The growing number of fourth-generation fighters and strike-fighters in the PLA
Air Force and the PLA Naval Air Force, and the growing number of modern PLA
SAM systems, raises a potential question of whether the Navy should change its
planned mix of carrier-based strike fighters to include more Navy JSFs and fewer
F/A-18E/Fs. Such a change would produce a force with a better ability to avoid PLA
SAM systems and more total air-to-air combat capability than the currently planned
The Department of the Navy’s planned mix of F/A-18E/Fs and JSFs can be
compared to the Air Force’s strike fighter procurement plans. The Air Force plans
to replace its current force of F-15 and F-16 fighters with a mix of 179 F/A-22 Raptor
strike fighters and 1,763 JSFs. The F-22 is more stealthy and capable in air-to-air
combat than the JSF. The Navy does not have an equivalent to the F-22. The Air
Force argues that a mix of F/A-22s and JSFs will be needed in the future in part to
counter fourth-generation fighters and strike fighters operated by other countries,
including China. Supporters of the F/A-22 argue that the challenge posed by fourthgeneration fighters in combination with modern integrated air defenses, is a key
reason for procuring 381 or more F/A-22s, rather than 179. 131 Potential oversight
questions include the following:
If the Air Force is correct in its belief that a combination of F/A-22s
and JSFs will be needed in part to counter fourth-generation fighters
and modern SAM systems operated by other countries, including
China, would the Department of the Navy’s planned mix of JSFs and
F/A-18E/Fs be sufficient to counter a PLA force of fighters and
strike fighters that includes fourth-generation designs?
If PLA attacks on U.S. air bases in the Western Pacific reduce the
number of Air Force F/A-22s and JSFs that can participate in a
conflict in the Taiwan Strait area, would the Department of the
Navy’s planned mix of F/A-18E/Fs and JSFs have sufficient air-toair combat capability to counter the PLA’s force of fighters and
Long-Range Air-To-Air Missile (Phoenix Successor). Should the Navy
acquire a long-range air-to-air missile analogous to the now-retired Phoenix
During the Cold War, when the U.S. Navy prepared to confront a Soviet seadenial force that included land-based aircraft armed with long-range ASCMs, Navy
carrier air wings included F-14 Tomcat fighters armed with Phoenix long-range (60
nautical miles to 110 nautical miles) air-to-air missiles. A key purpose of the F14/Phoenix combination was to enable the Navy to shoot down approaching Soviet
For more on the F-22, JSF, and F/A-18E/F, see CRS Issue Brief IB92115, Tactical
Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress; CRS Report RL31673, F/A-22 Raptor, by
Christopher Bolkcom; CRS Report RL30563, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program:
Background, Status, and Issues; and CRS Report RL30624, Military Aircraft, the F/A-18E/F
Super Hornet Program: Background and Issues for Congress, all by Christopher Bolkcom.
land-based aircraft flying toward U.S. Navy forces before they got close enough to
launch their multiple long-range ASCMs. The strategy of shooting down the aircraft
before they could launch their ASCMs was viewed as preferable because the aircraft
were larger and less numerous than the ASCMs. This strategy of “shooting the
archer rather than its arrows” formed part of a long-range air-to-air combat effort that
was referred to as the Outer Air Battle.
Following the end of the Cold War 1989-1991, the need for waging an Outer Air
Battle receded. Procurement of new Phoenixes ended in FY1990, and a planned
successor to the Phoenix called the Advanced Air-To-Air Missile (AAAM) was
canceled. The Phoenix was removed from service at the end of FY2004, and the F14 is currently being phased out of service , with the last aircraft scheduled to be
removed by mid-FY2007. Without the Phoenix, Navy strike fighters, like Air Force
strike fighters, rely on a combination of medium- and short-range air-to-air missiles
with ranges of roughly 10 nautical miles to 40 nautical miles.
In light of a potential need to counter PLA land-based strike fighters and
maritime bombers protected by long-range SAMs, one question is whether a new
program for acquiring a successor to the Phoenix should be initiated. The Air Force
during the Cold War did not operate the Phoenix because it did not face a scenario
equivalent to the Navy’s scenario of shooting down a Soviet aircraft armed with
multiple long-range ASCMs. In a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, however, the United
States might benefit from having both Navy and Air Force strike fighters equipped
with a long-range air-to-air missile for shooting down PLA strike fighters and
maritime bombers equipped with ASCMs. If so, then the cost of developing a new
long-range air-to-air missile could be amortized over a combined Navy-Air Force
purchase of the missile.
Anti-Air Warfare (AAW).
Surface Ship AAW Upgrades. Are current Navy plans for upgrading
surface ship anti-air warfare (AAW) capabilities adequate?
The PLA’s acquisition of advanced and highly capable ASCMs such as the SSN-27 Sizzler and the SS-N-22 Sunburn raises the question of whether current plans
for modernizing Navy surface ship AAW capabilities are adequate. The Government
Accountability Office (GAO) in previous years has expressed concerns regarding the
Navy’s ability to counter ASCMs. 132 Potential areas for modernization include,
among other things, the following:
ship radars, such as the SPY-1 radar on Aegis ships or the radars
now planned for the DD(X) destroyer and CG(X) cruiser;
General Accounting Office, Navy Acquisitions[:] Improved Littoral War-Fighting
Capabilities Needed, GAO-01-493, May 2001; and General Accounting Office, Defense
Acquisitions[:] Comprehensive Strategy Needed to Improve Ship Cruise Missile Defense,
GAO/NSIAD-00-149, July 2000.
AAW-related computer networking capabilities, such as the
Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC); 133
air defense missiles such as the Standard Missile, 134 the Evolved Sea
Sparrow Missile (ESSM), and the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM);
close-in weapon systems, such as the Phalanx radar-directed gun;
potential directed-energy weapons, such as solid state or freeelectron lasers;
decoys, such as the U.S-Australian Nulka active electronic decoy;
aerial targets for AAW tests and exercises, particularly targets for
emulating supersonic ASCMs. 135
For more on CEC, see CRS Report RS20557, Navy Network-Centric Warfare Concept:
Key Programs and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
The Navy is currently developing a new version of the Standard Missile called the SM-6
Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM) that will have a considerably longer range than the
current SM-2 air defense missile. The SM-6 will also have an active seeker that will permit
the missile to home in on the target on its own, without being illuminated by a ship-based
radar, as is the case with the SM-2.
An October 2005 report from the Defense Science Board (DSB) highlights “The dire
need for several types of supersonic targets to represent existing anti-ship cruise missile
threats.” (Page 1) The report states:
The Russians have produced and deployed a variety of supersonic, anti-ship
cruise missiles. Some of these missiles are sea-skimming vehicles; others attack
from high altitudes. At the time of the Task Force, the United States had zero
capability to test its air defense systems such as AEGIS or Improved Sea Sparrow
against supersonic targets, and the Task Force views this shortfall as the major
deficiency in our overall aerial targets enterprise. Aggressive actions are needed
to fix the problem. (Department of Defense, Report of the Defense Science
Board Task Force on Aerial Targets. Washington, 2005. (October 2005, Office
of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics)
A cover memorandum attached to the report from William P. Delaney and General Michael
Williams, USMC (Ret.), the co-chairmen of the task force, states:
The area of greatest concern to the Task Force was our gap in supersonic antiship cruise missiles for testing. The Russians have deployed at least three such
cruise missiles that involve either sea-skimming flight profiles or a high-altitude
profile involving a power dive to the target. At this time, we have no test
vehicles for either flight profile.
See also John Liang, “DSB Highlights ‘Dire’ Need For Supersonic Cruise Missile Targets,”
Inside the Navy, November 14, 2005.
Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) AAW Capability. Should the currently
planned AAW capability of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) be increased?
The Navy’s planned Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is to be armed with a 21-round
Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launcher. The ship will also be equipped with an
AAW decoy launcher. 136
The PLA’s acquisition of ASCMs that can be fired from aircraft, surface ships,
and submarines raises the possibility that LCSs participating in a conflict in the
Taiwan Strait area could come under attack by substantial numbers of ASCMs.
Other Navy ships, such as Aegis cruisers and destroyers and, in the future, DD(X)
destroyers and CG(X)s cruisers, could help defend LCSs against attacking ASCMs,
but such ships might not always be in the best position to do this, particularly if
ASCMs are launched at LCSs from undetected submarines or if the supporting U.S.
Navy ships were busy performing other duties. If LCSs were damaged or sunk by
ASCMs, the Navy’s ability to counter enemy mines, submarines, and small boats —
the LCS’s three primary missions — would be reduced.
The possibility that the LCS’s AAW system might be overwhelmed or
exhausted by attacks from multiple ASCMs raises the question of whether the AAW
capability planned for the LCS should be increased. Options for increasing the
LCS’s planned AAW capability include, among other things, adding another 21round RAM launcher or supplementing the currently planned RAM launcher with a
battery of Evolved Sea Sparrow (ESSM) missiles. In assessing such options, one
factor to consider would be whether installing additional RAMs or ESSMs would
require an increase in the planned size and cost of the LCS.
Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW).
Technologies. Are current Navy efforts for improving antisubmarine warfare
(ASW) technologies adequate?
In addition to the issue discussed earlier of whether the Navy between now and
2010 will have enough ASW-capable platforms, another potential issue raised by the
PLA submarine modernization effort is whether current Navy plans for improving
antisubmarine warfare (ASW) technologies are adequate. The Navy states that it
intends to introduce several new ASW technologies, including distributed sensors,
The lack of targets for fully emulating supersonic ASCMs has been an issue since the early
1980s, when the Navy first deployed the Aegis AAW system. See CRS Report 84-180, The
Aegis Anti-Air Warfare System: Its Principal Components, Its Installation On The CG-47
And DDG-51 Class Ships, And Its Effectiveness, by Ronald O’Rourke. (October 24, 1984)
pp. 16-17. (This report is out of print and is available directly from the author.)
For more on the LCS, see CRS Report RS21305, Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS):
Background and Issues for Congress; and CRS Report RL32109, Navy DD(X), CG(X), and
LCS Ship Acquisition Programs: Oversight Issues and Options for Congress, both by
unmanned vehicles, and technologies for networking ASW systems and platforms. 137
Admiral Michael Mullen, who became the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) on July
22, 2005, has issued a guidance statement for the Navy for 2006 which says that
Navy tasks for FY2006 will include, among other things, “Rapidly prototyp[ing]
ASW technologies that will: hold at risk adversary submarines; substantially degrade
adversary weapons effectiveness; and, compress the ASW detect-to-engage
sequences. Sensor development is key.” 138
Training And Exercises. Are current Navy plans for ASW training and
As mentioned earlier, success in an ASW operation is highly dependent on the
proficiency of the people operating the ASW equipment, and ASW operational
proficiency can take time to develop and can atrophy significantly if not regularly
exercised. At various times since the end of the Cold War, some observers have
expressed concerns about whether the Navy was placing adequate emphasis on
maintaining ASW proficiency. The Navy in April 2004 established a new Fleet
ASW Command, based in San Diego, to provide more focus to its ASW efforts, and
since then has taken steps to enhance its ASW training and exercises:
In April 2004, it was reported that carrier strike groups deploying
from the U.S. West Coast would now stop in Hawaiian waters for
three- to five-day ASW exercises before proceeding to the Western
In March 2005, the Navy reached an agreement to lease a Swedish
non-nuclear-powered submarine and its crew for a 12-month period.
The submarine, which is equipped with an air-independent
propulsion (AIP) system, arrived in San Diego in June 2005, where
For discussions of new ASW technologies, see Jennifer H. Svan, “Pacific Fleet
Commander: Sub Threats Top Priority,” Pacific Stars and Stripes, October 3, 2005; Jason
ma, “Autonomous ASW Sensor Field Seen AS High-Risk Technical Hurdle,” Inside the
Navy, June 6, 2005; John R. Benedict, “The Unraveling And Revitalization Of U.S. Navy
Antisubmarine Warfare,” Naval War College Review, spring 2005, pp. 93-120, particularly
pp. 109-110; Richard R. Burgess, “‘Awfully Slow Warfare’,” Seapower, April 2005, pp. 1214; Jason Ma, “ASW Concept Of Operations Sees ‘Sensor-Rich’ Way Of Fighting Subs,”
Inside the Navy, February 7, 2005; Jason Ma, “Navy’s Surface Warfare Chief Cites Progress
In ASW Development,” Inside the Navy, January 17, 2005; Otto Kreisher, “As Underwater
Threat Re-Emerges, Navy Renews Emphasis On ASW,” Seapower, October 2004, p. 15; and
David Wood, “U.S. Navy Confronts Growing New Submarine Threat,” Newhouse.com,
September 10, 2004.
M. G. Mullen, CNO Guidance for 2006, Meeting the Challenge of a New Era,
Washington, 2005, p. 5.
Christopher Munsey, “Fleet Anti-Sub Command Stands Up,” Navy Times, April 19, 2004,
it is being used to as a mock enemy submarine in Pacific Fleet ASW
The Navy in 2005 also reached an agreement with Colombia and
Peru under which one non-nuclear-powered submarine from each
country deployed to the Navy base at Mayport, FL, in April 2005 to
support Atlantic Fleet ASW exercises for a period of two to five
months. South American non-nuclear-powered submarines have
been integrated into U.S. Navy exercises since 2002. 141
In October 2005, the commander of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet said
that, upon assuming command earlier in the year, he made ASW his
highest priority and instituted a cyclic approach to ASW training that
includes more frequent (quarterly) assessments, as well as training
exercises with other navies. 142
In light of these actions, the potential question is whether the Navy ASW
training and exercises are now adequate, or whether they should be expanded further.
Active-Kill Torpedo Defense. If feasible, should Navy plans for acquiring
an active-kill torpedo defense system be accelerated?
Navy surface ships and submarines are equipped with decoy systems for
diverting enemy torpedoes away from their intended targets. Such decoys, however,
might not always work, particularly against wake-homing torpedoes, which can be
difficult to decoy. Under the Navy’s surface ship torpedo defense (SSTD)
development program, the U.S. Navy is developing an “active-kill” torpedo-defense
capability for surface ships and also submarines that would use a small (6.75-inch
diameter) anti-torpedo torpedo (ATT) to physically destroy incoming torpedoes.
Current Navy plans call for the ATT to enter low-rate initial procurement (LRIP) in
FY2009 and achieve initial operational capability on surface ships in FY2011. 143 In
Jose Higuera, “Sweden’s Gotland Heads For A Year With US Navy,” Jane’s Navy
International, July/August 2005; 8; S. C. Irwin, “Swedish Submarine Expected To Enhance
Navy’s Antisubmarine Warfare Primacy,” Navy Newsstand, June 20, 2005; Gidget Fuentes,
“Swedish Sub To Drill With U.S. Navy For A Year,” DefenseNews.com, May 18, 2005;
“U.S., Swedish Navies Sign Agreement To Bilaterally Train On State-Of-The-Art Sub,”
Navy Newsstand, March 23, 2005.
Christopher Munsey, “Colombian, Peruvian Subs To Take Part In Exercise,”
NavyTimes.com, April 14, 2005; Mark O. Piggott, “South American Submarines Enhance
U.S. Navy’s Fleet Readiness,” Navy Newsstand, April 14, 2005.
Jennifer H. Svan, “Pacific Fleet Commander: Sub Threats Top Priority,” Pacific Stars
and Stripes, October 3, 2005.
Sources: Department of the Navy, Department of the Navy Fiscal Year (FY)
2006/FY2007 Budget Estimates, Justification of Estimates, February 2005, Research,
Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy Budget Activity 4, entry on Surface Ship Torpedo
Defense program, PE (Program Element) 0603506N; and Pennsylvania State University
Applied Research Laboratory web page on the torpedo defense programs office, available
on the Internet at [http://www.arl.psu.edu/capabilities/td.html].
light of the modern torpedoes, including wake-homing torpedoes, that are expected
to be carried by modern PLA submarines, a potential question is whether, if feasible,
the current ATT acquisition schedule should be accelerated. Hitting an approaching
torpedo with another torpedo poses technical challenges which could affect the
potential for accelerating the ATT development schedule.
Mine Warfare. Are current Navy mine warfare plans adequate?
The PLA’s interest in modern mines may underscore the importance of the
Navy’s efforts to develop and acquire new mine countermeasures (MCM) systems,
and perhaps raise a question regarding whether they should be expanded or
accelerated. The Navy’s MCM capabilities have been a matter of concern among
members of the congressional defense committees for several years.
Conversely, the PLA Navy’s own reported vulnerability to mines (see section
on PLA Navy limitations and weaknesses) can raise a question regarding the lessfrequently-discussed topic of the U.S. Navy’s offensive mine warfare capability. To
what degree can minelaying complicate PLA plans for winning a conflict, particularly
a short-duration conflict, in the Taiwan Strait area? Do U.S. Navy plans include
sufficient mines and minelaying platforms to fully exploit the PLA Navy’s
vulnerability to mines? The Navy has various mines either in service or under
development, 144 and is exploring the option of starting development of an additional
new mine called the 2010 Mine. 145
Computer Network Security. Are Navy efforts to ensure computer network
The PLA’s published interest in IW/IO, and concerns that recent attacks on U.S.
computer networks have in some cases originated in China, underscore the
importance of U.S. military computer network security. The Navy in July 2002
established the Naval Network Warfare Command in part to prevent and respond to
attacks on Navy computer networks. 146 Another CRS report discusses computer
network security at length. 147
EMP Hardening. Are Navy efforts to harden its systems against
electromagnetic pulse (EMP) adequate?
Current information on Navy mines and mine development programs is available on the
Internet at [http://www.exwar.org/Htm/4000.htm].
Andrew Koch, “USN May Launch Offensive Naval Mining Mission,” Jane’s Defence
Weekly, December 1, 2004, p. 10.
Harold Kennedy, “Navy Command Engages In Info Warfare Campaign,” National
Defense, November 2003. See also Frank Tiboni, “DOD’s ‘Manhattan Project’,” Federal
Computer Week, August 29, 2005.
CRS Report RL32114, Computer Attack and Cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy
Issues for Congress, by Clay Wilson.
The possibility that the PLA might use nuclear weapons or high-power
microwave (HPM) weapons to generate electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects against
the electronic systems on U.S. Navy ships and aircraft raises a potential question
regarding the adequacy of the Navy’s efforts to harden its systems against EMP
effects. A 2004 commission studying the EMP issue expressed concerns about the
potential vulnerability of U.S. tactical forces to EMP. 148
2004 EMP commission report. The report of the commission stated on page 1 that “The
high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is one of a small
number of threats that has the potential to hold our society seriously at risk and might result
in defeat of our military forces.” The report stated later that
The end of the Cold War relaxed the discipline for achieving EMP
survivability within the Department of Defense, and gave rise to the perception
that an erosion of EMP survivability of military forces was an acceptable risk.
EMP simulation and test facilities have been mothballed or dismantled, and
research concerning EMP phenomena, hardening design, testing, and
maintenance has been substantially decreased. However, the emerging threat
environment, characterized by a wide spectrum of actors that include near-peers,
established nuclear powers, rogue nations, sub-national groups, and terrorist
organizations that either now have access to nuclear weapons and ballistic
missiles or may have such access over the next 15 years have combined to place
the risk of EMP attack and adverse consequences on the US to a level that is not
Current policy is to continue to provide EMP protection to strategic [i.e.,
long-range nuclear] forces and their controls; however, the end of the Cold War
has relaxed the discipline for achieving and maintaining that capability within
The situation for general-purpose forces (GPF) is more complex.... Our
increasing dependence on advanced electronics systems results in the potential
for an increased EMP vulnerability of our technologically advanced forces, and
if unaddressed makes EMP employment by an adversary an attractive
The United States must not permit an EMP attack to defeat its capability to
prevail. The Commission believes it is not practical to protect all of the tactical
forces of the US and its coalition partners from EMP in a regional conflict. A
strategy of replacement and reinforcement will be necessary. However, there is
a set of critical capabilities that is essential to tactical regional conflicts that must
be available to these reinforcements. This set includes satellite navigation
systems, satellite and airborne intelligence and targeting systems, an adequate
communications infrastructure, and missile defense.
The current capability to field a tactical force for regional conflict is
inadequate in light of this requirement. Even though it has been US policy to
create EMP-hardened tactical systems, the strategy for achieving this has been
to use the DoD acquisition process. This has provided many equipment
components that meet criteria for durability in an EMP environment, but this
does not result in confidence that fielded forces, as a system, can reliably
withstand EMP attack. Adherence to the equipment acquisition policy also has
The commission’s report was received at a July 22, 2004, hearing before the
House Armed Services Committee. At the hearing, Representative Steve Israel asked
about the role of EMP in exercises simulating operations in the Taiwan Strait:
Representative Steve Israel: [Representative Roscoe] Bartlett and I just
attended an NDU [National Defense University] tabletop [exercise] with respect
to the Straits of the Taiwan just last week. To your knowledge, has there been
any tabletop exercise, has there been any simulation, any war-game that
anticipates an EMP attack, and, if there has not been, do you believe that that
would, in fact, be a useful exercise for NDU, the Pentagon or any other relevant
entity? Dr. Graham, do you want to answer that?
Dr. William R. Graham (Commission Chairman): Thank you. Let me
poll the commission and see if they have any experience with that. General
General Richard L. Lawson, USAF (Ret.) (Commissioner): No, sir.
Graham: Dr. Wood?
Dr. Lowell L. Wood, Jr. (Commissioner): I don’t believe there’s been
any formal exercise, certainly not to my knowledge. There’s been extensive
discussion of what the impact of Chinese EMP laydowns would be, not on
Taiwan, which is, after all, considered by China to be part of its own territory,
but on U.S. forces in the region which might be involved in the active defense of
Taiwan. In particular, the consequences the EMP laydown on U.S. carrier task
forces has been explored, and while, it’s not appropriate to discuss the details in
an open session like this, the assessed consequences of such an attack, a
single-explosion attack, are very somber.
Since that is a circumstance in which the target might be considered a pure
military one in which the loss of life might be relatively small, but the loss of
military capability might be absolutely staggering, it poses a very attractive
option, at least for consideration on the part of the Chinese military.
I would also remark that Chinese nuclear explosive workers at their very
cloistered research center in northwestern China very recently published an
authoritative digest and technical commentary on EMP in English, in a Chinese
publication. It is very difficult to understand what the purpose of publishing a
lengthy, authoritative article in English in a Chinese publication would be, if it
was not to convey a very pointed message. This came not from military workers.
It came from the people who would be fielding the weapon that would conduct
Graham: Dr. Pry on our staff has made a survey of foreign writings on
EMP, and he noted that while U.S. exercises have not to our knowledge played
that scenario, Chinese military writings have discussed that scenario. So it’s
been spotty, and the huge challenge of organizing and fielding an EMP-durable
tactical force has been a disincentive to applying the rigor and discipline needed
to do so. (Pages 47-48.)
certainly something they have thought of and it is within their mind. I have
observed generally over the last 40 years that there’s a tendency in the U.S.
military not to introduce nuclear weapons in general and EMP in particular into
exercise scenarios or game scenarios because it tends to end the game, and that’s
not a good sign. I think it would be a very interesting subject for the NDU group
to take up and see and force them not to end the game. Time will not stop if such
an event happens. Let them understand what the consequences will be. 149
Later in the hearing, Representative Roscoe Bartlett returned to the topic of the
potential effects of EMP on Navy ships:
Representative Bartlett: If China were to detonate a weapon high over
our carrier task force, can we note in this [open] session what would the effects
on the carrier task force be?
Graham: Mr. Bartlett, several years ago, the Navy dismantled the one
simulator it had for exposing ships directly [to EMP]. It was the Empress
simulator located in the Chesapeake Bay. So I don’t believe any direct
experimental work has been done for quite some time.
However, the general character of modern naval forces follows the other
trends we’ve described, which is an increasing dependence upon sophisticated
electronics for its functionality, and, therefore, I believe there’s substantial
reason to be concerned.
[Would] Any other commissioners [care to comment]?
Representative Bartlett: Dr. Wood?
Wood: In open session, sir, I don’t believe it’s appropriate to go much
further than the comment that I made to [Representative] Israel that the
assessments that are made of such attacks and their impacts are very somber.
The Navy generally believes — that portion of the Navy that’s at all
cognizant of these matters — that because they operate in an extremely
radar-intensive environment, [since] they have a great deal of electromagnetic
gear on board, some of which radiates pulses — radar pulses, for instance —
because they can operate in that type of environment, that they surely must be
EMP robust. These free-floating beliefs on the part of some Navy officers are
not — repeat not — well grounded technically. 150
Source: Transcript of hearing.
Appendix A: Additional Details on China’s Naval
This appendix presents additional details and commentary on several of the
elements of China’s military modernization discussed in the Background section of
Theater-Range Ballistic Missiles (TBMs). Regarding the potential for using
TBMs against moving U.S. Navy ships at sea, DOD states that “China is exploring
the use of ballistic missiles for anti-access/sea-denial missions.” 152 ONI states that
“One of the newest innovations in TBM weapons developments involves the use of
ballistic missiles to target ships at sea. This is assessed as being very difficult
because it involves much more than just a missile.” 153 ONI continues:
The use of ballistic missiles against ships at sea has been discussed for
years. Chinese writings state China intends to develop the capability to attack
ships, including carrier strike groups, in the waters around Taiwan using
conventional theater ballistic missiles (TBMs) as part of a combined-arms
campaign. The current conventional TBM force in China consists of CSS-6 and
CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) deployed in large numbers. The
current TBM force would be modified by changing some of the current missiles’
ballistic reentry vehicles (RVs) to maneuvering reentry vehicles (MaRVs) with
radar or IR seekers to provide the accuracy needed to attack ships at sea. The
TBMs with MaRVs would have good defense penetration capabilities because
of their high reentry speed and maneuverability. Their lethality could be
increased, especially with terminally guided submunitions.
In order to attack a ship or a carrier battle group with TBMs, the target must
be tracked, and its position, direction, and speed determined. This information
would be relayed in near real time to the missile launchers. China may be
planning ultimately to use over-the-horizon (OTH) radar, satellites, and
unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to monitor the target’s position.
Reconnaissance assets would be used to detect the ship or carrier strike group
before it entered into the range of Chinese TBMs, facilitating early preparation
for the engagement, and refining the target’s position. Target information would
be relayed through communication satellites or other channels to a command
center, and then to the missile launchers. TBMs with MaRVs would then be
launched at the target’s projected position. The missiles would fly their
Unless otherwise indicated, shipbuilding program information in this section is taken
from Jane’s Fighting Ships 2005-2006. Other sources of information on these shipbuilding
programs may disagree regarding projected ship commissioning dates or other details, but
sources present similar overall pictures regarding PLA Navy shipbuilding.
2005 DOD CMP, p. 4. Page 33 similarly states that China is “researching the possibility
of using ballistic missiles and special operations forces to strike ships or their ashore support
2004 ONI WMC, p. 21. On Page 3 (Overview), ONI notes, without reference to any
specific country, that “antiship ballistic missiles could be fired at our ships at sea.”
preplanned trajectories until onboard seekers could acquire the ship and guide
the missiles to impact. 154
Another observer states:
The PLA’s historic penchant for secrecy and surprise, when combined with
known programs to develop highly advanced technologies that will lead to new
and advanced weapons, leads to the conclusion that the PLA is seeking [to] field
new weapon systems that could shock an adversary and accelerate their defeat.
In the mid-1990s former leader Jiang Zemin re-popularized an ancient Chinese
term for such weapons, “Shashaojian,” translated most frequently as “Assassin’s
Mace,” or “silver bullet” weapons.
One potential Shashoujian is identified by the [DOD’s 2005 report on
China military power]: a maneuvering ballistic missile design to target U.S. naval
forces. In 1996 a Chinese technician revealed that a “terminal guidance system”
that would confer very high accuracy was being developed for the DF-21
[intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM]. Such a system could employ a
radar similar to the defunct U.S. Pershing-2 MRBM or could employ off-board
sensors with rapid data-links to the missile tied to satellite-navigation systems.
Nevertheless, should such missiles be realized they will pose a considerable
threat as the U.S. Navy is not yet ready to deploy adequate missile defenses. 155
A separate observer states:
Land-based conventional tipped ballistic missiles with maneuverable
(MarV) warheads that can hit ships at sea.... would be a Chinese “assassin’s
mace” sort of capability — something impossible to deal with today, and very
difficult under any circumstances if one is forced to defend by shooting down
ballistic missiles. The capability is dependent on Beijing’s ability to put together
the appropriate space-based surveillance, command, and targeting architecture
necessary to make this work. 156
One more observer states:
There is yet another exceedingly important chapter being written in the
[PLA] ballistic-missile saga. China is trying to move rapidly in developing
ballistic missiles that could hit ships at sea at MRBM [medium-range ballistic
missile] ranges — in other words, to threaten carriers beyond the range at which
they could engage Chinese forces or strike China. Among its other advantages
for China, this method of attack avoids altogether the daunting prospect of
having to cope with the U.S. Navy submarine force — as anti-submarine warfare
is a big Chinese weakness. Along with these efforts to develop ballistic missiles
2004 ONI WMC, p. 22. Page 20 states: “Maneuvering reentry vehicles serve two
purposes: one to provide an unpredictable target to complicate missile defense efforts and
the other, potentially, to adjust missile flight path to achieve greater accuracy.”
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 6.
Presentation entitled “Beijing Eye View of Strategic Landscale” by Mike McDevitt at a
June 20, 2005, conference on the future of the U.S. Navy held in Washington, DC, by the
American Enterprise Institute. Quote taken from McDevitt’s notes for the presentation,
which he provided to CRS.
to hit ships, they are, of course, working diligently to perfect the means to locate
and target our carrier strike groups (CSGs). In that regard, an imperfect or
rudimentary (fishing boats with satellite phones) means of location and targeting
might be employed even earlier than the delay of several more years likely
needed to perfect more reliable and consistent targeting of ships. Chinese missile
specialists are writing openly and convincingly of MaRV’d ballistic missiles
(missiles with maneuverable reentry vehicles) that maneuver both to defeat
defenses and to follow the commands of seekers that spot the target ships. There
seems little doubt that our naval forces will face this threat long before the
Taiwan issue is resolved. 157
Land-Attack Cruise Missile (LACMs). Regarding LACMs, DOD states:
China is developing LACMs to achieve greater precision than historically
available from ballistic missiles for hard target strikes, and increased standoff.
A first- and second-generation LACM remain under development. There are no
technological bars to placing on these systems a nuclear payload, once
Land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) are available for sale from many
countries, and are marketed at arms shows around the world. Land-attack cruise
missiles are becoming a significant adjunct to theater ballistic missiles in strike
and deterrent roles. The number of countries manufacturing and purchasing
LACMs continues to grow. Some of the systems in development are derivatives
of antiship missiles, and some are dedicated designs, and a few weaponized
UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] complete the inventory....
Israel, China, Germany, and South Africa are among the countries with LACM
development programs. 159
Another observer states:
Since the 1970s the PLA has placed a high priority on developing an
indigenous strategic land attack cruise missile (LACM). This effort has been
aided by the PLA’s success in obtaining advanced cruise missile technology from
Russia, Israel, the Ukraine and the United States. In early June an Internetsource photo appeared of anew Chinese cruise missile with unmistakable LACM
characteristics. This would tend to support revelation from Taiwan earlier this
year that by 2006 the PLA will deploy 200 new land-based LACMs. With their
very high accuracy such cruise missiles allow strategic targets to be destroyed
with non-nuclear warheads. 160
McVadon 9/15/05 testimony, pp. 4-5.
2005 DOD CMP, p. 29.
2004 ONI WMC, pp. 25, 26
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 9. Comments about LACMs also appear on pp. 3, 4, 5, and
Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs). Regarding ASCMs, DOD states:
The PLA Navy and Naval Air Force have or are acquiring nearly a dozen
varieties of ASCMs, from the 1950s-era CSS-N-2/STYX to the modern
Russian-made SS-N-22/SUNBURN and SS-N-27/SIZZLER. The pace of
indigenous ASCM research, development, and production — and of foreign
procurement — has accelerated over the past decade. Objectives for current and
future ASCMs include improving closure speed (e.g., ramjet propulsion, such as
with the SS-N-22), standoff distance (e.g., longer-range assets, such as the
C-802), and stealthier launch platforms (e.g., submarines). SS-N-22 missiles may
be fitted on smaller platforms in the future (e.g., the Russian Molniya patrol boat,
which originated as a joint effort with China, or on the new stealth fast attack
patrol boat). 161
Regarding the SS-N-27s expected to be carried by the eight additional Kilo-class
submarines China has ordered, ONI states:
Russia continues to develop supersonic ASCMs. The most interesting is the
3M-54E design which has a cruise vehicle that ejects a rocket-propelled terminal
sprint vehicle approximately 10 nautical miles from its target. The sprint vehicle
accelerates to speeds as high as Mach 3 and has the potential to perform very
high-g defensive maneuvers. 162
Another observer states that “the very dangerous and lethal SS-N-27Bs [are]
said by experts to be part of the best family of ASCMs in the world....” 163
Land-Based Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs). Regarding SAM systems, DOD
In August 2004, China received the final shipment from Russia of four
S-300PMU-1/SA-20 surface-to-air missile (SAM) battalions. China has also
agreed to purchase follow-on S-300PMU-2, the first battalion of which is
expected to arrive in 2006. With an advertised intercept range of 200 km, the
S-300PMU-2 provides increased lethality against tactical ballistic missiles and
more effective electronic counter-counter measures. 164
Another observer states that “before 2010,” China could deploy more than 300
S-300 SAM systems to locations covering the Taiwan Strait. 165
Land-Based Aircraft. Regarding land-based aircraft, DOD states:
China has more than 700 aircraft within un-refueled operational range of
Taiwan. Many of these are obsolescent or upgrades of older-generation aircraft.
However, China’s air forces continue to acquire advanced fighter aircraft from
2005 DOD CMP, p. 29.
2004 ONI WMC, p. 23
McVadon 9/15/05 testimony, p. 5.
2005 DOD CMP, p. 4. See also p. 32.
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 4. See also p. 10.
Russia, including the Su-30MKK multirole and Su-30MK2 maritime strike
aircraft. New acquisitions augment previous deliveries of Su-27 fighter aircraft.
China is also producing its own version of the Su-27SK, the F-11, under a
licensed co-production agreement with Moscow. Last year, Beijing sought to
renegotiate its agreement and produce the multirole Su-27SMK for the remainder
of the production run. These later generations of aircraft make up a growing
percentage of the PLA Air Force inventory.
China’s indigenous 4th generation fighter, the F-10, completed development in
2004 and will begin fielding this year. Improvements to the FB-7 fighter program
will enable this older aircraft to perform nighttime maritime strike operations.
China has several programs underway to deploy new standoff escort jammers on
bombers, transports, tactical aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicle platforms. 166
China operates a force of 1950s vintage B-6D Badger dedicated naval strike
bombers. Today, these aircraft are armed with the C601, an air-launched
derivative of the Styx ASCM, but a program to arm them with the modern
C802K is underway....
China and Russia also are working on new tactical aircraft dedicated to the
antiship mission. China’s FB-7 Flounder has been in development since the
1970s; its production limited by engine difficulties. The C801K-armed FB-7
entered service with the Chinese Navy, and integration of the longer-range
C802K on the FB-7 is underway. 167
Another observer states that “By 2006, in my estimation, the PLA will have 400
Sukhoi [i.e., Su-27 and Su-30] fighters and fighter-bombers.” 168
Submarines. The paragraphs below discuss China’s submarine modernization
effort in more detail on a class-by-class basis.
Type 094 SSBN. China is building a new class of SSBN known as the Type
094 class. The first two Type 094 boats are expected to enter service in 2008 and
2010. The Type 094 design may be derived from the Shang-class (Type 093) SSN
design discussed below. ONI states that China “wishes to develop a credible,
survivable, sea-based deterrent with the capability to reach the United States” and
that the Type 094 design “benefits from substantial Russian technical assistance.” 169
The Type 094 SSBN is expected to be armed with 12 CSS-NX-5 nuclear-armed
submarine-launched ballistic missiles, also known as JL-2s. Observers believe these
missiles will have a range of about 8,000 kilometers to 12,000 kilometers (about
4,320 nautical miles to 6,480 nautical miles). The latter figure could permit Type
2005 DOD CMP, p. 4. See also pp. 23-24, 25, 31-32.
2004 ONI WMC, p. 27. Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, pp. 3-4, 9-10.
Statement of Richard D. Fisher, Jr., as printed in 2/6/04 USCC hearing, p. 72.
2004 ONI WMC, p. 37.
094 SSBNs to attack targets in most of the continental United States while operating
in protected bastions close to China. 170
Shang (Type 093) SSN. China is building a new class of SSN, called the
Shang (or Type 093) class. The first two Shang-class boats are expected to enter
service in 2005, and construction of a third may have begun.
Observers believe the Shang-class SSNs will likely represent a substantial
improvement over China’s five older and reportedly fairly noisy Han (Type 091)
class SSNs, which entered service between 1974 and 1990. The first Han-class boat
reportedly was decommissioned in 2003, and observers expect the others will be
decommissioned as Shang-class boats enter service.
The Shang class reportedly was designed in conjunction with Russian experts
and is derived from the Soviet Victor III-class SSN design that was first deployed by
the Soviet Union around 1978. The Victor III was the first in a series of quieter
Soviet SSN designs that, by the mid-1980s, led to substantial concern among U.S.
Navy officials that the Soviet Union was closing the U.S. lead in SSN technology and
creating what Navy officials described an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) “crisis” for
the U.S. Navy. 171
ONI states that the Shang-class “is intended primarily for antisurface warfare
at greater ranges from the Chinese coast than the current diesel force. China looks at
SSNs as a primary weapon against aircraft carrier battle groups and their associated
logistics support.” 172 Observers expect the Shang-class boats to be armed with a
modern ASCM and also with a LACM broadly similar to the U.S. Tomahawk landattack cruise missile. One observer states:
At first, [China’s LACMs] will be launched by Second Artillery units, but soon
after, they may also be used by PLA Air Force H-6 bombers and by the Navy’s
new Type 093 nuclear attack submarines. When used by the latter, the PLA will
A map published by ONI suggests that the JL-2 range is 4,300 nautical miles to 6,500
nautical miles. The caption for the map states “JL-2 range assessments extend to over 5,000
nautical miles, potentially putting all of the continental United States at risk.” The map
shows that range of 4,300 nautical miles would be sufficient to reach Alaska, Hawaii, and
northwest Canada, that a range of 5,400 nautical miles would be sufficient to reach much
or most of the continental United States, and that a range of 6,500 nautical miles would be
sufficient to reach all of the continental United States with the possible exception of
southern Florida. (2004 ONI WMC, p. 37.)
China also operates a single Xia (Type 092) class SSBN that entered service in 1987, and
a single Golf (Type 031) non-nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSB) that
entered service in the late 1960s. The Xia-class boat is armed with 12 CSS-N-3 (JL-1)
SLBMs that have a range of roughly 1,200 nautical miles. The Golf-class boat is used as
an SLBM test platform.
See, for example, Ronald O’Rourke, “Maintaining the Edge in US ASW,” Navy
International, July/August 1988, pp. 348-354.
2005 ONI WMC, p. 14.
have its first platform capable of limited but politically useful non-nuclear power
projection on a global scale....
Once there is a build-up of Type 093s it should be expected that the PLA Navy
may undertake patrols near the U.S. in order to draw U.S. SSNs back to
defensive patrols. 173
Kilo-class SS. China ordered four Kilo-class SSs from Russia in 1993; the
ships entered service in 1995-1999. The first two were of the less capable (but still
fairly capable) Project 877 variant, which Russia has exported to several countries;
the other two were of the more capable Project 636 variant that Russia had previously
reserved for its own use.
China in 2002 ordered eight additional Kilos from Russia, reportedly all of the
Project 636 design. The ships reportedly are to be delivered in 2005 (six boats) and
2006 (two boats). 174 ONI states that the delivery of these eight boats “will provide
the Chinese Navy with a significant qualitative increase in warfighting capability,” 175
while another observer states that the Kilo-class boats are “Among the most
worrisome of China’s foreign acquisitions....” 176
The eight Kilos are expected to be armed with the Russian-made SS-N-27
Sizzler ASCM, also known as the Novator Alfa Klub 3M-54E — a highly dangerous
ASCM that might as difficult to shoot down, or perhaps even more difficult to shoot
down, than the SS-N-22 Sunburn ASCM on China’s Russian-made Sovremennyclass destroyers (see discussion below on surface combatants). China’s first four
Kilos (or the two Project 636 boats, if not the two Project 877 boats) might also be
refitted with the SS-N-27.
Yuan (Type 041) Class SS. China is building a new class of SS called the
Yuan (or Type 041) class. The first Yuan-class boat, whose appearance reportedly
came as a surprise to western observers, 177 was launched (i.e., put into the water for
final construction) in 2004. Observers expect the first two Yuan-class boats to enter
service in 2006.
Some observers believe the Yuan class may incorporate technology from
Russia’s most recent SS design, known as the Lada or Amur class, including possibly
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, pp. 9, 11.
As mentioned earlier, ONI states that all eight Kilo-class boats are scheduled for delivery
by 2005 (2004 ONI WMC, p. 12), while some other sources project that the final boat or
boats will be delivered by 2007.
2004 ONI WMC, p. 12.
Tkacik 7/27/05 testimony, p. 8. See also Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, pp. 11-12.
Jane’s Fighting Ships 2005-2006, for example, states: “It is fair to say that the
intelligence community was caught completely unawares by the emergence of the Yuan
class....” Jane’s Fighting Ships 2005-2006, p. 30 (Executive Overview). See also Bill
Gertz, “Chinese Produce New Type Of Sub,” Washington Times, July 16, 2004: 1.
an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. 178 One observer says the Yuan class
strongly resembles both the Russian Amur 1650-class and French Agosta-class SS
Song (Type 039/039G) Class SS. China is also building a relatively new
SS design called the Song (or Type 039/039G) class. The first Song-class boat
entered service in 1999, and a total of 12 are expected to be in service by 2006. The
first boat reportedly experienced problems, resulting in design changes that were
incorporated into subsequent (Type 039G) boats. Some observers believe the Songclass design may have benefitted from PLA Navy experience with the Kilo class.
One report states that one Song-class boat has been equipped with an AIP system. 180
Observers are uncertain whether Song-class production will end as a result of the
start of Yuan-class production, or continue in parallel with the Yuan class.
Older Ming (Type 035) and Romeo (Type 033) Class SSs. China in
2005 also had about 20 older Ming (Type 035) class SSs and about 21 even older
Romeo (Type 033) class SSs (with an additional 10 in reserve status).
The first Ming-class boat entered service in 1971 and the 20th was launched in
2002. Production may have ended in favor of Song- and Yuan-class production. In
April 2003, a malfunction aboard one of the boats (hull number 361) killed its 70man crew. Observers believe they were killed by carbon monoxide or chlorine
poisoning. The boat was repaired and returned to service in 2004.
The Romeo-class boats entered service between the early 1960s and the late
1980s. A total of 84 were built. Of the 21 still in service, one is a modified boat that
has been used as a cruise missile test ship. The 10 boats in reserve status may be of
dubious operational condition. The total number of Romeos in service and reserve
status has been declining over time.
If China decides that Ming- and Romeo-class boats have continued value as
minelayers or as bait or decoy submarines that can be used to draw out enemy
submarines (such as U.S. SSNs), it may elect to keep some of these older submarines
in service even as new submarines enter service.
Aircraft carriers. An August 2005 press report states:
Chinese shipyard workers have been repairing a badly damaged ex-Russian
aircraft carrier and have repainted it with the country’s military markings, raising
the question once again of whether China is pursuing longer-term plans to field
its first carrier.
An AIP system, such as a fuel cell system or a closed-cycle diesel engine, extends the
stationary or low-speed submerged endurance of a non-nuclear-powered submarine from a
few days to perhaps two or three weeks. AIP technology does not extend the high-speed
submerged endurance of a non-nuclear-powered submarine, which remains limited, due to
battery capacity, to about 1 to 3 hours of high-speed operations.
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 11.
“CHINA — Submarine Force Moving Forward,” Submarine Review, April 2005: 106.
In the latest developments, images show that workers at the Chinese Dalian
Shipyard have repainted the ex-Russian Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Varyag
with the markings and colour scheme of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
Navy (PLAN). Additional new photographs show that other work, the specifics
of which could not be determined, appears to be continuing and that the
condition of the vessel is being improved....
Still, China’s ultimate intentions for the Varyag remain unclear. One
possibility is that Beijing intends to eventually have it enter into some level of
service. A military strategist from a Chinese military university has commented
publicly that the Varyag “would be China’s first aircraft carrier.”
It is possible that the PLAN will modify the Varyag into a training aircraft
carrier. A US intelligence official said the vessel could be made seaworthy again
with enough time, effort and resources. However, US defence officials said that
repairing the Varyag to become fully operational would be an extraordinarily
large task. The carrier was about 70 per cent complete at the time of transfer and
sensitive portions were destroyed, including damage to the core structure, before
China was permitted to take possession. Given the difficulty and expense, it is
questionable whether Beijing would pursue the effort only to use the Varyag as
a training platform; such a move could, however, mark a transitional phase en
route to a fully operational capability.
Another possibility is that China does, indeed, plan to repair the vessel to
become its first seagoing aircraft carrier or use knowledge gained from it for an
indigenously built carrier programme. The US intelligence official said such an
outcome “is certainly a possibility” if China is seeking a blue- water navy
capable of protecting long-range national interests far from its shores such as sea
lanes in the Strait of Malacca. If this strategy were to be followed, China would
have to reinstate the structural integrity degraded before delivery and study the
structural design of the carrier’s deck. These two activities, along with the
blueprints and the ship itself, could be used to design an indigenous carrier. Such
a plan would very likely be a long-term project preceded by the development of
smaller vessels such as amphibious landing ships. 181
Surface Combatants. One observer states that by 2010, China’s surface
could exceed 31 destroyers and 50 frigates, backed up by 30 ocean-capable
stealthy fast attack craft. Such a force could then be used in conjunction with
submarines and attack aircraft to impose a naval blockade around Taiwan.
Surface ships could also defend the airspace around Taiwan from U.S. Naval
forces, especially its P-3 anti-submarine warfare aircraft which would play a
critical role in defeating a blockade.182
Yihong Chang and Andrew Koch, “Is China Building A Carrier?,” Jane’s Defence
Weekly, August 17, 2005. See also Ian Storey and You Ji, “China’s Aircraft Carrier
Ambitions, Seeking Truth from Rumors,” Naval War College Review, winter 2004, pp. 7793.
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 12.
Regarding the HQ-9 SAM believed to be carried by the Luyang II-class
destroyers, ONI states:
The most challenging threat to aircraft and cruise missiles comes from
high-performance, long-range [SAM] systems like the Russian SA-10/SA-20
family. The system combines very powerful three-dimensional radar and a highperformance missile with engagement ranges in excess of 100 nautical miles
against a conventional target. The SA-10/SA-20 has been marketed widely and
has enjoyed some success in the export market, but its high cost has limited its
proliferation. Technology from the SA-10 is being incorporated into China’s
50-nautical mile range HQ-9 SAM, which is intended for use on the new
LUYANG destroyer. The HQ-9 will provide China’s navy with its first true area
air defense capability when the SAM becomes operational in the next few
Amphibious Ships. The three new classes of amphibious ships and craft now
under construction in China, all of which began construction in 2003, are as follows:
Yuting II-class helicopter-capable tank landing ships (LSTs).
Three of these ships entered service in 2003 and another six in 2004.
Each ship can transport 10 tanks and 250 soldiers, and has a
helicopter landing platform for two medium-sized helicopters. The
ships were built at three shipyards, and additional units are expected.
Yunshu-class landing ships (LSMs). Ten of these ships entered
service in 2004. Each ship can transport 6 tanks or 12 trucks or 250
tons of supplies. The ships were built at four shipyards, and
additional units are expected.
Yubei-class utility landing craft (LCUs). Eight of these landing
craft entered service in 2004. Each craft can transport 10 tanks and
150 soldiers. The ships were built at four shipyards, and additional
units are expected.
The PLA recently increased amphibious ship production to address its lift
deficiencies — although the intelligence community believes these increases will
be inadequate to meet requirements — and is organizing its civilian merchant
fleet and militia, which, given adequate notification, could augment the PLA’s
organic lift in amphibious operations. 184
Information Warfare/Information Operations (IW/IO). Regarding IW/IO
capabilities, ONI states, without reference to any specific country:
IO is the combination of computer network attack, electronic warfare, denial and
deception (D&D), and psychological operations (PSYOP)....
2004 ONI WMC, p. 29.
2005 DOD CMP, p. 31. See also Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 13.
Outside attack on Navy networks can take different forms depending on the
attacker’s goals and sophistication. Navy networks have been targeted for denial
of service attacks from the Internet. More sophisticated operations, perhaps
conducted by foreign military or intelligence services, might include covertly
mapping Navy networks, installing backdoors to facilitate future intrusions,
stealing data, and leaving behind destructive code packages to be activated in
time of conflict. Malicious codes like the Melissa virus have appeared in
classified networks, demonstrating that an external attack on ostensibly protected
networks could succeed. Attacks could selectively alter information in Navy
databases and files, introducing errors into the system. When discovered or
revealed, this corruption of trusted data could cause us to lose confidence in the
integrity of the entire database. 185
Nuclear Weapons. Regarding the potential use of nuclear weapons against
U.S. Navy forces, one study states that
there is some evidence the PLA considers nuclear weapons to be a useful element
of an anti-access strategy. In addition to the nuclear-capable [ballistic] missiles...
China has nuclear bombs and aircraft to carry them, and is reported to have
nuclear mines for use at sea and nuclear anti-ship missiles. At the very least,
China would expect the presence of these weapons and the threat to use them to
be a significant deterrent to American action. 186
Regarding the possibility of China using a high-altitude nuclear detonation to
create an EMP effect, DOD states:
Some PLA theorists are aware of the electromagnetic effects of using a
high-altitude nuclear burst to generate high-altitude electromagnetic pulse
(HEMP), and might consider using HEMP as an unconventional attack, believing
the United States and other nations would not interpret it as a use of force and as
crossing the nuclear threshold. This capability would most likely be used as part
of a larger campaign to intimidate, if not decapitate, the Taiwan leadership.
HEMP causes a substantial change in the ionization of the upper atmosphere,
including the ionosphere and magnetosphere. These effects likely would result
in the degradation of important war fighting capabilities, such as key
communication links, radar transmissions, and the full spectrum of electro-optic
sensors. Additional effects could include severe disruptions to civil
electric/power and transportation. These effects cannot easily be localized to
Taiwan and would likely affect the mainland, Japan, the Philippines, and
commercial shipping and air routes in the region. 187
Whether China would agree with the above view that EMP effects could not
easily be localized to Taiwan and surrounding waters is not clear. The effective
radius of a high-altitude EMP burst is dependent to a strong degree on the altitude at
2004 ONI WMC, p. 38.
The Chinese Military, An Emerging Maritime Challenge, Washington, Lexington
Institute, 2004, pp. 13-14.
2005 DOD CMP, p. 40.
which the warhead is exploded (the higher the altitude, the greater the radius). 188
China might therefore believe that it could detonate a nuclear warhead somewhere
east of Taiwan at a relatively low altitude, so that the resulting EMP radius would be
sufficient to affect systems in Taiwan and on surface ships in surrounding waters, but
not great enough to reach systems on China’s mainland. 189 Following the detonation,
China could attempt to confuse the issue in the public arena of whose nuclear
warhead had detonated. Alternatively, China could claim that the missile launch was
an accident, and that China command-detonated the warhead at altitude as a failsafe
measure, to prevent it from detonating closer to the surface and destroying any nearby
High-Power Microwave (HPM) Weapons.
weapons, ONI states:
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (a congressional support agency that
was closed in 1995), states: “The size of the area that could be affected by EMP is primarily
determined by the height of burst and is only very weakly dependent on the yield.” (MX
Missile Basing. Washington, Office of Technology Assessment, 1981. (September 1981)
p. 297. The document is available on the Internet at [http://www.wws.princeton.edu/ota/
CRS Report RL32544, op cit, states that “creating a HEMP [high-altitude EMP] effect
over an area 250 miles in diameter [i.e., a radius of 125 miles], an example size for a
battlefield, might only require a rocket with a modest altitude and payload capability that
could loft a relatively small nuclear device.”
One observer states that a detonation height of 200 kilometers (108 nautical miles) would
produce an EMP effect out to a radius of about 1,600 kilometers (864 nautical miles), while
a detonation height of 50 kilometers would produce an EMP effect out to a radius of about
800 kilometers (432 nautical miles). (Written Statement by Dr. Michael Bernardin, Provost
for the Theoretical Institute for Thermonuclear and Nuclear Studies, Applied Theoretical
and Computational Physics Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, before the Military
Research and Development Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee,
October 7, 1999.)
A map presented by another observer shows that a detonation height of 100 kilometers (54
nautical miles) would produce an EMP effect out to a radius of about 1,000 kilometers (540
nautical miles). (Statement of Dr. Gary Smith, Director, The Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory, before Military Research and Development Subcommittee of
the House Armed Services Committee, July 16, 1996.)
Another published map states that a detonation height of 30 miles would produce an EMP
effect out to a radius of 480 miles. A source note attached to the map attributes it to the
above-cited July 16, 1997 testimony of Gary Smith. (See page 3 of Jack Spencer, America’s
Vulnerability To A Different Nuclear Threat: An Electromagnetic Pulse. Washington,
Heritage Foundation, 2000. 7 pp. (Backgrounder No. 1372, May 26, 2000) The document
is available on the Internet at [http://www.heritage.org/Research/MissileDefense/
Even if China does not have the capability to command the early detonation of a warhead
on a ballistic missile in flight, it could claim afterward that it did.
Radio-frequency weapons (RFW) could be used against military networks
since they transmit high power radio/microwave energy to damage/disrupt
electronic components. RFWs fall into two categories, beam and warhead. A
beam weapon is a multiple use system that can repeatedly send directional RF
energy at different targets. An RF warhead is a single-use explosive device that
can be delivered to the target by multiple means, including missiles or artillery
shells. RFWs can be assembled with little technical knowledge from commercial
off-the-shelf components, such as surplus military radars.191
One observer states that, “at least one U.S. source indicates the PLA has
developed” non-nuclear radio frequency warheads for ballistic missiles.192 When
asked at a hearing about the possibility of China using a nuclear weapon to generate
an EMP effect against Taiwan and U.S. naval forces, this observer stated:
What worries me more, Congressman, is non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse
weapons. Non-nuclear explosive propelled radio frequency or EMP-like devices
that could be used with far greater frequency and far more effect because they
would not run the danger for China of prompting a possible nuclear response.
Thereby it would be much more tempting to use and use effectively.
If you could combine a non-nuclear radio frequency weapon with a
maneuvering ballistic missile of the type that the Pentagon report describes very
briefly this year, that would constitute a real Assassin’s Mace weapon. One that,
in my opinion, we cannot defend ourselves against and would possibly
effectively deny effective military — effective American military intervention
in the event of — not just a Taiwan crisis, but other crises as well. 193
2004 ONI WMC, p. 39.
Fisher 7/27/05 testimony, p. 6. A footnote at this point in Fisher’s statement says this
information was: “Disclosed to the author by a U.S. source in September 2004.” See also
Spoken testimony of Richard D. Fisher, Jr., in transcript of 7/27/05 HASC hearing, in
response to a question from Representative Curt Weldon.