U.S. media: PLA Navy to top the world in 2020

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Yao Jianing
2016-07-22 18:16

The picture is a screenshot of the article published on the website of the Center for International Maritime Security on July 19, 2016.

BEIJING, July 22 (ChinaMil) -- The total PLA Navy warship/replenishment/submarine strength circa 2020 is in the range of 265-273, said a report of the Center for International Maritime Security, a U.S. think tank.

Although that's more than U.S. Navy's 260 vessels, the PLA Navy will still lag behind in overall strength.

Chinese leader said in 2012 that China wished to become a strong power on the sea and would step up naval development to make it match China's international standing. It is generally believed that this goal may be achieved in 2030.

According to the report, China will have the world's second largest navy in a few years. At the moment it is not only the world's No.1 in shipbuilding and fishing, but also ranks among the top in terms of the number of merchant ships and coastguard vessels.

The latest white paper, China's Military Strategy, showed that China's naval strategy is shifting from off-shore water defense to distant-water defense.

The article also said when one counts the number and variety of warships that the PLA Navy is likely to have in commission by around 2020, China will have both the largest navy in the world (by combatant, underway replenishment, and submarine ship count) and the second most capable “far seas” navy in the world.

The PLA Navy will have:

    1. A well balanced fleet in terms of the full range of naval capabilities— a smaller version of USN

    2. As many nuclear attack submarines (6-7) as UK and France, third behind U.S. and Russia.

    3. More SSBNs (5-7) than UK and France, third globally.

    4. As many aircraft carriers (2) as the UK and India.

    5. 18-20 AEGIS like destroyers—second globally, more than Japan’s 8.

    6. More modern multi-mission frigates (FFG) (30-32) than any other navy.

    7. A blue-water amphibious force second only to USN in large (LPD/LSD) class ships (6-7)

    8. A modern underway replenishment force, behind only the US.

    9. A “new far seas” navy; all warships built in 21st century

This shows that the PLA Navy will have 265-273 vessels in total in 2020. The total “far seas” capable warships/underway replenishment/submarines forecast to be in PLA Navy’s inventory around 2020 total between 95 and 104 major warships. In comparison, the U.S. Navy is projected to have a force structure of around 260 warship/replenishment/submarines in 2020.

    Details are as follows:

    1. 51 nuclear powered attack submarines

    2. 4 nuclear powered land–attack cruise missile submarines

    3. 14 SSBNs

    4. 11 CVNs

    5. 33 modern amphibious ships

    6. 30 odd underway replacement ships

    7. 88-91 AEGIS warships

    8. 28 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS)

The U.S. Navy and PLA Navy will be in a position of rough numeric party, but the U.S. Navy will maintain a wide qualitative advantage, according to the report.

If current plans are carried through, some 60 percent of the total U.S. Navy force structure, or around 156 warships and submarines, will be assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet by 2020.

So, while the U.S. number includes more high-end ships, the total number of combatants the PLA Navy would have at its disposal for a defensive campaign in East Asia is significant. In this sort of defensive campaign (A2/AD) one must also consider the land based aircraft of PLA Navy and the PLA Air Force as well as the Strategic Rocket Force’s anti-ship ballistic missiles, according to the report.

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