China is Preparing a
Harbor Style Attack
China's disputes over Taiwan (which is seeking statehood) and the Sprately islands are pretexts to its
eventual expansionist aims of becoming Australia's newest next-door neighbor. And standing in the way of China's aims is the American Navy and in particular, the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk based
at the Port of Yokosuka, which is located at the entrance to Tokyo Bay. In order to prevail, China must kill the Kitty Hawk with what will be a Pearl
Harbor style sneak attack using modern Russian-supplied weapons and a Cold War Soviet naval doctrine called the "battle of the first salvo."
This article will briefly examine China's "battle of the first salvo" strategy and the ships and weapons it will use to destroy the Kitty Hawk as well as other American carriers.
At the outset is must be stated that if the Chinese could at any time use one of their nuclear ballistic missile to destroy an American carrier task
force. But that would invite similar retaliations and the question then becomes, will American flinch.
During the last decade, the Chinese had managed to purchase sufficient access to the Clinton White House to know that America would flinch in such a case and that Clinton and Gore would abandon the Taiwanese
rather than risk a nuclear exchange. However, that changed in April 2001 when an American EP-3 surveillance plane was forced to land at a military airfield at Lingshui on the southern end of Hainan.
Over the ensuing weeks, the Chinese tested the mettle of newly elected President George Bush while holding the 24 members of the crew as political hostages. What they found was that when pushed to the wall,
Bush is firm and not the kind of man to flinch. You nuke me and I nuke you — in spades.
With a first strike nuclear option off the table, the Chinese are still bent on destroying our aircraft carriers and will do so with highly advanced
conventional weapons, which is not implausible as their naval capabilities are on the rise while America's continue to wane.
The Aircraft Carrier and
the Projection of Power
Without question, the modern aircraft carrier represents the most powerful
class of warship ever created by man and America has used them to project power around the globe in a manner. When an American carrier is stationed off the shores of a troublesome nation, they get that
"reach out an touch somebody" kind of awareness. Or in the words of former President Bill Clinton, "When word of crisis breaks out in Washington, it's no accident the first question
that comes to everyone's lips is; where is the nearest carrier?"
Yet, it was Clinton who systemically stripped away much of America's sea power leaving us significantly weakened. In the case of Taiwan conflict,
President Clinton knowingly diminished our forces in response to China's expansionist aims.
The Strom Thurmond Institute, 1999
AMERICAN MILITARY OPTIONS IN A TAIWAN STRAIT CONFLICT
United States-People's Republic of China relations since 1972 have varied from warm to frigid. Of most concern to U.S. policy makers and defense planners is the PRC's military buildup absent any real threat to
her national interests in East Asia and her continued refusal to rule out the use of force to reunite Taiwan with the Mainland.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is
committed to insure that any reunification is by peaceful means. The task of insuring Taiwan's security will primarily fall on the U.S. Navy.
Given the present downsizing of the Navy and the buildup of PRC naval forces, it is questionable whether the United States would prevail should conflict come in the early 21st century.
There is no doubt that Chinese military leaders have witnessed the ability of America to project power with its aircraft carriers time-and-again. Consequently, the Chinese have embarked on a very ambitious and
expensive program to develop their aircraft carrier program.
Given the huge trade imbalance (in their favor)
with America the financing formula for their aircraft carrier program is simple. Americans buy hair dryers made in brutal Chinese labor camps by jailed political dissidents for hard
cash and then uses that money to purchase state of the art Russian ships, missiles and submarines. Consequently, Americans have great looking hair and China
has a great looking navy with which it will set out to kill hundreds of thousands of neatly coiffured Americans. To paraphrase Chairman Mao,
"All power comes from the end of an exported hair dryer,"
But how could the Chinese be so politically incorrect to be that cold-blooded?
Vengeance and History
From the American viewpoint (with the exception of actress Jane Fonda), the use of aircraft carriers has always been about projecting power for legitimate purposes.
From the Chinese communist viewpoint, it has been about the use of Anglo navies to enforce Anglo policies. In this regard, one very painful memory for the Chinese is the Anglo-Chinese War of 1839.
The Opium Wars
The Opium War, also called the Anglo-Chinese War, was
the most humiliating defeat China ever suffered.
By the 1830's, the English had become the major drug-trafficking
criminal organization in the world. Growing opium in India, the East India Company shipped tons of opium into Canton, which it traded for Chinese manufactured goods and for tea. This trade had produced, quite
literally, a country filled with drug addicts, as opium parlors proliferated all throughout China in the early part of the nineteenth century. In an effort to stem the tragedy, the
imperial government made opium illegal in 1836 and began to aggressively close down the opium dens.
War broke out when Chinese junks attempted to turn
back English merchant vessels in November of 1839; although this was a low- level conflict, it inspired the English to send warships in June of 1840. The Chinese, with old-style weapons and artillery, were no
match for the British gunships, which ranged up and down the coast shooting at forts and fighting on land. Finally, in 1842, the Chinese were forced to agree to an ignomious peace under the Treaty of Nanking.
From a Western point of view, this happened 163 years ago (or 652 cooked quarterly corporate reports ago) and the British are still suffering from a colonial drug lord guilt trip.
However, from the Eastern perspective it happened the day before yesterday and it taught the Chinese that if they ever hoped to prevail in a major battle with modern Anglo navies, they would need modern weapons
and the knowledge of how to use them with the greatest effect.
Yes, the Chinese want their own aircraft carriers and they will have them. But equally important in their eyes is the need to know how best to destroy Anglo aircraft carriers as well.
How To Kill an Anglo Aircraft Carrier
It stands to reason that aircraft carriers like everything else engineered by man, are more vulnerable to attack in some places and way than in others.
Given that China's first target is the Kitty Hawk, it is incumbent upon their military planners to find the structural weak spots of a vessel of this size.
One such vessel is the partially completed Russian aircraft carrier, the Varyag, which was originally named the Riga. Once the ship is ready for
sea, it will have a displacement of 67,000 tons versus the Kitty Hawk, with a displacement of some 80,800 tons when fully loaded. Commissioned in
April 1961, the Kitty Hawk uses 8 conventional boilers and steam turbines for propulsion as compared with the newer, Nimitz Class nuclear-powered carrier with a displacement of 97,000 tons fully loaded.
When the Varyag was first purchased, the speculation was that it would be converted to a floating amusement park or casino. The Chinese position
that the Varyag would become an amusement part was bolstered by the fact that China had purchased two other aircraft carriers from Russia, the Kiev and Minsk and turned into floating amusement parks.
However, China paid far more for the Varyag than its scrap metal value, it took a great deal of persuasion for the Chinese to convince the Turks to let
it pass through the Dardanelles strait. Now that Varyag has arrived in China after a problematic journey it has been renamed the Chinluck.
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CHINA'S CARRIER OF CHANCE
China's new ex-Soviet, ex-Ukrainian aircraft carrier is now in a Dalian navy shipyard. Could the partially completed Kuznetsov-class carrier Varyag become the first aircraft carrier of the People's Liberation Army
Since the early 1980s the PLA has been gathering actual carriers and all assorted carrier information to build a detailed database. In 1985, it purchased the Australian carrier Melbourne. In 1995, the Spanish
company Bazan pitched its large conventional carrier concept to China. In 1996, the Far Eastern Economic Review [FEER] reported that China had tried to buy the soon-to-be-retired French carrier Clemenceau. Since
then, China is reported to have purchased the engineering blueprints for the Soviet Kyiv-class carrier. Subsequently, it bought the Varyag. It might well be that the Varyag was purchased simply as a way
to expand the PLAN's carrier information database.
In the meantime, the Chinese have also purchased and licensed Sukhoi Su-27 fighters for their new aircraft carriers from Russia. China has also
purchased 40 of the more advanced Su-30MK fighter jets from Russia at a cost of roughly two billion US dollars.
Is the Varyag now renamed the Chinluck going to be the only Chinese aircraft carrier. No, and what is equally interesting is the unique manner in which China is now training its new naval air wings.
AFP, January 12, 2000
China's First Aircraft Carrier
Ready for Service in 2005
HONG KONG - China's first locally-built aircraft carrier will be in full service in 2005, with construction expected to start this year, a press report said Wednesday.
The 4.8 billion yuan (585 million dollar) aircraft carrier is slated to be in the water in 2003, but it will take another two years to have it fully ready for service, the independent Chinese-language Ming Pao
daily said citing an unidentified source.
There are plans to build further aircraft carriers every three years, the report said.
More than 100 people, mostly aviation school graduates, have undergone a two-year training period at an unnamed northern airport, using a similator based on the landing pad of the decommissioned Australian aircraft
carrier "Melbourne" which China bought for scrap, it said.
Have the Chinese purchased enough technology to build a carrier fleet without help from the Russians? According to a Chinese newspaper report this year, China as already approved the construction of two aircraft
carriers in Chinese ship years, which are to be finished by 2009.
Now that China understands aircraft carriers well enough to build their own, they also know how to destroy American aircraft carriers as well. To this
end, China has worked with equal resolve in building the first attack forces it will need to destroy the Kitty Hawk as well as other American carrier with a surprise attack.