Tagged: advanced

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China Shows Off Air Force in Direct Challenge to India Military Power in Asia

The Chinese military has published photos of recent air force drills that at least one expert quoted in ruling party media identified Tuesday as a direct message to neighboring India.

Tensions between the two Asian powers have once again risen after they threatened to come to blows[1] over a border dispute last summer. Officials have swapped provocative words in recent months, reigniting a potential crisis as rhetoric turned into military preparations. In the latest move, China’s armed forces, known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), published Friday rare images of Chengdu J-10 and Shenyang J-11 fighter jets landing in Tibet, the western region that borders India, after exercises that Chinese military expert and commentator Song Zhongping linked to recent escalations.

Related: Russia and China could soon become more powerful than the U.S., and Valentine’s Day is to blame[2]

Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now[3]

“Strengthening the 3.5-generation fighter jets or even stationing more advanced fighters in the Western Theater Command has been urgent for the PLA,” Song told Chinese Communist Party organ The Global Times[4] in an article then posted to the official China Military Online[5].

“With India importing new jets, China will continue strengthening its fighter jets in the Western Theater Command,” he added.

ChinaJ10Tibet

A Chengdu J-10 fighter jet attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the People’s Liberation Army Western Theater Command taxies on the runway during an aerial combat training exercise in western China on February 13. Chen Qingshun/China Military Online

Song noted that such upgrades to China’s defenses have often been first implemented in its southern and eastern commands. The western command, however, has received more attention as the rivalry with India heated up.

China and India have long quarreled over stretches of territory along their shared border and this even exploded into a war between the two in the early 1960s. One region, known as Doklam or Donglang, which borders India’s Sikkim State, Chinese Tibet and the Ha Valley of the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, revived hostilities last summer[6]. India argued that Chinese construction near the trilateral border area last June threatened Bhutan’s claim to the region and deployed troops to confront the Chinese military in the area.

The standoff lasted nearly a month and a half and was believed to have resolved after both sides withdrew. Chinese President Xi Jinping was seen shaking hands with his Indian counterpart Nehru Modi on the sidelines of the September 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China. This detente, however, has been undermined by recent statements from both sides claiming they won last summer’s dispute and could take on the other in a future fight.

During a regular press[7] conference[8] Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang criticized a visit earlier that day by Modu to the nearby disputed Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claimed as part of southern Tibet. Geng said China was “firmly opposed to the Indian leader’s visit to the disputed area” and would “lodge stern representations with the Indian side.”

ChinaSpringFestivalSoldiers

Soldiers assigned to a brigade of the People’s Liberation Army 78th Group Army conduct a combat readiness training exercise in full battle gear during the 2018 spring festival holiday, in northeastern China, on February 15. China and India have long quarreled over stretches of territory along their shared border. Liu Yishan/China Military Online

The Chinese military has also used recent remarks from Indian generals to justify its own urgent transformation into a force fully prepared to fight a war between states[9]. Xi’s ongoing, massive bid to revolutionize his armed forces had the dual purpose of modernizing China’s military power and streamlining it to make it capable of protecting not only Chinese borders but also Chinese interests abroad[10]. Xi has also sought tight ties with Pakistan[11], a crucial Chinese economic ally—and India’s longtime foe.

Following last week’s air force drills in Tibet, the Chinese military continued training through the week-long Chinese New Year, or spring festival, holiday. The Chinese navy and army were also pictured conducting maneuvers aimed toward realizing Xi’s goal of preparing his armed forces to handle any external threat.

References

  1. ^ threatened to come to blows (www.newsweek.com)
  2. ^ Russia and China could soon become more powerful than the U.S., and Valentine’s Day is to blame (www.newsweek.com)
  3. ^ Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now (subscription.newsweek.com)
  4. ^ The Global Times (www.globaltimes.cn)
  5. ^ China Military Online (english.chinamil.com.cn)
  6. ^ revived hostilities last summer (www.newsweek.com)
  7. ^ a regular press (www.fmprc.gov.cn)
  8. ^ conference (www.fmprc.gov.cn)
  9. ^ prepared to fight a war between states (www.newsweek.com)
  10. ^ Chinese interests abroad (www.newsweek.com)
  11. ^ tight ties with Pakistan (www.newsweek.com)
0

A Japanese-American WWII Vet Remembers What It Was Like To 'Go All Out'

Henry Sakaguchi wearing the cap of his World War II unit: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

(Stephanie Wolf/CPR News)

Henry Sakaguchi arrived at Colorado Public Radio recently wearing the cap of his World War II unit: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The hat hasd the words “go for broke” on the front.

“That was the combat team’s motto,” Sakaguchi told Colorado Matters. “It means to go all out.” It’s a motto Sakaguchi said his unit lived and died by while fighting the Axis powers in Europe during the war.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team[1] became the most decorated U.S. military unit of its size. It was made up of almost entirely of second-generation Japanese-Americans. The exception was the leadership, who were mostly white. Sakaguchi said that led to some tension. But one commander had this advice: “He told us if somebody ever calls you a Jap or something, don’t back down. Fight for your rights.”  

Sakaguchi, who is 97 and lives in Denver, spoke to CPR News as part of our ongoing series documenting the lives of World War II veterans[2] and survivors[3] living in Colorado. His parents immigrated from Japan, and Sakaguchi grew up on a farm near Brighton.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 by Japan, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war during his famous “a date which will live in infamy” speech. The following February, Roosevelt ordered the relocation of people of Japanese ancestry. They were rumored to be spies,plotting to sabotage the U.S. war effort. So, with Executive[4] Order 9066[5], more than 100,000 people were forced into internment camps, many of them American citizens.

Sakaguchi said his family was lucky to have been living in Colorado.

“In our community, there wasn’t too much prejudice,” said Sakaguchi. “Most of our neighbors were German descent, and [at] the elementary school where we went there were about 15 or 20 of us Japanese-Americans.”

Colorado’s then-governor Ralph Carr called the president’s order unconstitutional[6]: “An American citizen of Japanese descent has the same rights as any other citizen… If you harm them, you must first harm me.” This position cost Carr his political career.

There was an internment camp in Colorado — the Granada War Relocation Center, also known as Camp Amache[7]. But Sakaguchi and his family were able to stay on their farm. Then, in 1943, at the age of 22 and despite the nation’s mistrust of Japanese-Americans, Sakaguchi joined the U.S. Army.

“I felt patriotism and also I wanted to prove my loyalty to America because America didn’t believe that we were loyal citizens,” said Sakaguchi.

After basic training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, Sakaguchi’s unit went off to Europe, Italy specifically, in 1944. Sakaguchi was assigned to the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion[8] as a radio mechanic and operator. He’d fight in both Italy and France, and he was grateful he never had to be in the infantry.

“Being in the artillery, I didn’t know how lucky I was until we got in actual battle and I saw what the infantry was going through,” he said.

Eventually, Sakaguchi’s battalion advanced into Germany, where they liberated a sub-camp of the Dachau concentration camp in May 1945. He recalled stopping for lunch near a shed as his unit approached the death camp.

“Just on the other side of the shed,” he said, “we found about 150 bodies just stacked up like cordwood in their prison stripped [uniforms], and they were just skin and bone.”

In January 1946, the Army discharged Sakaguchi. He got married soon after and went to technical school to study radio and TV repair. He did that work for most of his life, including running his own repair shop. He also had four children.

In 2011, Sakaguchi and his unit received the Congressional Medal of Honor[9]. And he earned the French Legion of Honour in 2013.

Sakaguchi said he thinks about the war “every once in awhile,” most particularly he wonders “how the buddies I knew… [are] doing.”

Related:

References

  1. ^ 442nd Regimental Combat Team (encyclopedia.densho.org)
  2. ^ World War II veterans (www.cpr.org)
  3. ^ survivors (www.cpr.org)
  4. ^ Executive (www.archives.gov)
  5. ^ Order 9066 (www.archives.gov)
  6. ^ Ralph Carr called the president’s order unconstitutional (www.denverpost.com)
  7. ^ Camp Amache (www.cpr.org)
  8. ^ 522nd Field Artillery Battalion (encyclopedia.densho.org)
  9. ^ Sakaguchi and his unit received the Congressional Medal of Honor (nationalveteransnetwork.com)
0

A Japanese-American WWII Vet Remembers What It Was Like To 'Go All Out'

Henry Sakaguchi wearing the cap of his World War II unit: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

(Stephanie Wolf/CPR News)

Henry Sakaguchi arrived at Colorado Public Radio recently wearing the cap of his World War II unit: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The hat hasd the words “go for broke” on the front.

“That was the combat team’s motto,” Sakaguchi told Colorado Matters. “It means to go all out.” It’s a motto Sakaguchi said his unit lived and died by while fighting the Axis powers in Europe during the war.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team[1] became the most decorated U.S. military unit of its size. It was made up of almost entirely of second-generation Japanese-Americans. The exception was the leadership, who were mostly white. Sakaguchi said that led to some tension. But one commander had this advice: “He told us if somebody ever calls you a Jap or something, don’t back down. Fight for your rights.”  

Sakaguchi, who is 97 and lives in Denver, spoke to CPR News as part of our ongoing series documenting the lives of World War II veterans[2] and survivors[3] living in Colorado. His parents immigrated from Japan, and Sakaguchi grew up on a farm near Brighton.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 by Japan, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war during his famous “a date which will live in infamy” speech. The following February, Roosevelt ordered the relocation of people of Japanese ancestry. They were rumored to be spies,plotting to sabotage the U.S. war effort. So, with Executive[4] Order 9066[5], more than 100,000 people were forced into internment camps, many of them American citizens.

Sakaguchi said his family was lucky to have been living in Colorado.

“In our community, there wasn’t too much prejudice,” said Sakaguchi. “Most of our neighbors were German descent, and [at] the elementary school where we went there were about 15 or 20 of us Japanese-Americans.”

Colorado’s then-governor Ralph Carr called the president’s order unconstitutional[6]: “An American citizen of Japanese descent has the same rights as any other citizen… If you harm them, you must first harm me.” This position cost Carr his political career.

There was an internment camp in Colorado — the Granada War Relocation Center, also known as Camp Amache[7]. But Sakaguchi and his family were able to stay on their farm. Then, in 1943, at the age of 22 and despite the nation’s mistrust of Japanese-Americans, Sakaguchi joined the U.S. Army.

“I felt patriotism and also I wanted to prove my loyalty to America because America didn’t believe that we were loyal citizens,” said Sakaguchi.

After basic training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, Sakaguchi’s unit went off to Europe, Italy specifically, in 1944. Sakaguchi was assigned to the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion[8] as a radio mechanic and operator. He’d fight in both Italy and France, and he was grateful he never had to be in the infantry.

“Being in the artillery, I didn’t know how lucky I was until we got in actual battle and I saw what the infantry was going through,” he said.

Eventually, Sakaguchi’s battalion advanced into Germany, where they liberated a sub-camp of the Dachau concentration camp in May 1945. He recalled stopping for lunch near a shed as his unit approached the death camp.

“Just on the other side of the shed,” he said, “we found about 150 bodies just stacked up like cordwood in their prison stripped [uniforms], and they were just skin and bone.”

In January 1946, the Army discharged Sakaguchi. He got married soon after and went to technical school to study radio and TV repair. He did that work for most of his life, including running his own repair shop. He also had four children.

In 2011, Sakaguchi and his unit received the Congressional Medal of Honor[9]. And he earned the French Legion of Honour in 2013.

Sakaguchi said he thinks about the war “every once in awhile,” most particularly he wonders “how the buddies I knew… [are] doing.”

Related:

References

  1. ^ 442nd Regimental Combat Team (encyclopedia.densho.org)
  2. ^ World War II veterans (www.cpr.org)
  3. ^ survivors (www.cpr.org)
  4. ^ Executive (www.archives.gov)
  5. ^ Order 9066 (www.archives.gov)
  6. ^ Ralph Carr called the president’s order unconstitutional (www.denverpost.com)
  7. ^ Camp Amache (www.cpr.org)
  8. ^ 522nd Field Artillery Battalion (encyclopedia.densho.org)
  9. ^ Sakaguchi and his unit received the Congressional Medal of Honor (nationalveteransnetwork.com)
0

A Japanese-American WWII Vet Remembers What It Was Like To 'Go All Out'

Henry Sakaguchi wearing the cap of his World War II unit: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

(Stephanie Wolf/CPR News)

Henry Sakaguchi arrived at Colorado Public Radio recently wearing the cap of his World War II unit: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The hat hasd the words “go for broke” on the front.

“That was the combat team’s motto,” Sakaguchi told Colorado Matters. “It means to go all out.” It’s a motto Sakaguchi said his unit lived and died by while fighting the Axis powers in Europe during the war.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team[1] became the most decorated U.S. military unit of its size. It was made up of almost entirely of second-generation Japanese-Americans. The exception was the leadership, who were mostly white. Sakaguchi said that led to some tension. But one commander had this advice: “He told us if somebody ever calls you a Jap or something, don’t back down. Fight for your rights.”  

Sakaguchi, who is 97 and lives in Denver, spoke to CPR News as part of our ongoing series documenting the lives of World War II veterans[2] and survivors[3] living in Colorado. His parents immigrated from Japan, and Sakaguchi grew up on a farm near Brighton.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 by Japan, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war during his famous “a date which will live in infamy” speech. The following February, Roosevelt ordered the relocation of people of Japanese ancestry. They were rumored to be spies,plotting to sabotage the U.S. war effort. So, with Executive[4] Order 9066[5], more than 100,000 people were forced into internment camps, many of them American citizens.

Sakaguchi said his family was lucky to have been living in Colorado.

“In our community, there wasn’t too much prejudice,” said Sakaguchi. “Most of our neighbors were German descent, and [at] the elementary school where we went there were about 15 or 20 of us Japanese-Americans.”

Colorado’s then-governor Ralph Carr called the president’s order unconstitutional[6]: “An American citizen of Japanese descent has the same rights as any other citizen… If you harm them, you must first harm me.” This position cost Carr his political career.

There was an internment camp in Colorado — the Granada War Relocation Center, also known as Camp Amache[7]. But Sakaguchi and his family were able to stay on their farm. Then, in 1943, at the age of 22 and despite the nation’s mistrust of Japanese-Americans, Sakaguchi joined the U.S. Army.

“I felt patriotism and also I wanted to prove my loyalty to America because America didn’t believe that we were loyal citizens,” said Sakaguchi.

After basic training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, Sakaguchi’s unit went off to Europe, Italy specifically, in 1944. Sakaguchi was assigned to the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion[8] as a radio mechanic and operator. He’d fight in both Italy and France, and he was grateful he never had to be in the infantry.

“Being in the artillery, I didn’t know how lucky I was until we got in actual battle and I saw what the infantry was going through,” he said.

Eventually, Sakaguchi’s battalion advanced into Germany, where they liberated a sub-camp of the Dachau concentration camp in May 1945. He recalled stopping for lunch near a shed as his unit approached the death camp.

“Just on the other side of the shed,” he said, “we found about 150 bodies just stacked up like cordwood in their prison stripped [uniforms], and they were just skin and bone.”

In January 1946, the Army discharged Sakaguchi. He got married soon after and went to technical school to study radio and TV repair. He did that work for most of his life, including running his own repair shop. He also had four children.

In 2011, Sakaguchi and his unit received the Congressional Medal of Honor[9]. And he earned the French Legion of Honour in 2013.

Sakaguchi said he thinks about the war “every once in awhile,” most particularly he wonders “how the buddies I knew… [are] doing.”

Related:

References

  1. ^ 442nd Regimental Combat Team (encyclopedia.densho.org)
  2. ^ World War II veterans (www.cpr.org)
  3. ^ survivors (www.cpr.org)
  4. ^ Executive (www.archives.gov)
  5. ^ Order 9066 (www.archives.gov)
  6. ^ Ralph Carr called the president’s order unconstitutional (www.denverpost.com)
  7. ^ Camp Amache (www.cpr.org)
  8. ^ 522nd Field Artillery Battalion (encyclopedia.densho.org)
  9. ^ Sakaguchi and his unit received the Congressional Medal of Honor (nationalveteransnetwork.com)
0

A Japanese-American WWII Vet Remembers What It Was Like To 'Go All Out'

Henry Sakaguchi wearing the cap of his World War II unit: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

(Stephanie Wolf/CPR News)

Henry Sakaguchi arrived at Colorado Public Radio recently wearing the cap of his World War II unit: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The hat hasd the words “go for broke” on the front.

“That was the combat team’s motto,” Sakaguchi told Colorado Matters. “It means to go all out.” It’s a motto Sakaguchi said his unit lived and died by while fighting the Axis powers in Europe during the war.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team[1] became the most decorated U.S. military unit of its size. It was made up of almost entirely of second-generation Japanese-Americans. The exception was the leadership, who were mostly white. Sakaguchi said that led to some tension. But one commander had this advice: “He told us if somebody ever calls you a Jap or something, don’t back down. Fight for your rights.”  

Sakaguchi, who is 97 and lives in Denver, spoke to CPR News as part of our ongoing series documenting the lives of World War II veterans[2] and survivors[3] living in Colorado. His parents immigrated from Japan, and Sakaguchi grew up on a farm near Brighton.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 by Japan, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war during his famous “a date which will live in infamy” speech. The following February, Roosevelt ordered the relocation of people of Japanese ancestry. They were rumored to be spies,plotting to sabotage the U.S. war effort. So, with Executive[4] Order 9066[5], more than 100,000 people were forced into internment camps, many of them American citizens.

Sakaguchi said his family was lucky to have been living in Colorado.

“In our community, there wasn’t too much prejudice,” said Sakaguchi. “Most of our neighbors were German descent, and [at] the elementary school where we went there were about 15 or 20 of us Japanese-Americans.”

Colorado’s then-governor Ralph Carr called the president’s order unconstitutional[6]: “An American citizen of Japanese descent has the same rights as any other citizen… If you harm them, you must first harm me.” This position cost Carr his political career.

There was an internment camp in Colorado — the Granada War Relocation Center, also known as Camp Amache[7]. But Sakaguchi and his family were able to stay on their farm. Then, in 1943, at the age of 22 and despite the nation’s mistrust of Japanese-Americans, Sakaguchi joined the U.S. Army.

“I felt patriotism and also I wanted to prove my loyalty to America because America didn’t believe that we were loyal citizens,” said Sakaguchi.

After basic training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, Sakaguchi’s unit went off to Europe, Italy specifically, in 1944. Sakaguchi was assigned to the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion[8] as a radio mechanic and operator. He’d fight in both Italy and France, and he was grateful he never had to be in the infantry.

“Being in the artillery, I didn’t know how lucky I was until we got in actual battle and I saw what the infantry was going through,” he said.

Eventually, Sakaguchi’s battalion advanced into Germany, where they liberated a sub-camp of the Dachau concentration camp in May 1945. He recalled stopping for lunch near a shed as his unit approached the death camp.

“Just on the other side of the shed,” he said, “we found about 150 bodies just stacked up like cordwood in their prison stripped [uniforms], and they were just skin and bone.”

In January 1946, the Army discharged Sakaguchi. He got married soon after and went to technical school to study radio and TV repair. He did that work for most of his life, including running his own repair shop. He also had four children.

In 2011, Sakaguchi and his unit received the Congressional Medal of Honor[9]. And he earned the French Legion of Honour in 2013.

Sakaguchi said he thinks about the war “every once in awhile,” most particularly he wonders “how the buddies I knew… [are] doing.”

Related:

References

  1. ^ 442nd Regimental Combat Team (encyclopedia.densho.org)
  2. ^ World War II veterans (www.cpr.org)
  3. ^ survivors (www.cpr.org)
  4. ^ Executive (www.archives.gov)
  5. ^ Order 9066 (www.archives.gov)
  6. ^ Ralph Carr called the president’s order unconstitutional (www.denverpost.com)
  7. ^ Camp Amache (www.cpr.org)
  8. ^ 522nd Field Artillery Battalion (encyclopedia.densho.org)
  9. ^ Sakaguchi and his unit received the Congressional Medal of Honor (nationalveteransnetwork.com)
0

Bigger, faster, stronger: China's ever-evolving military tech

Just ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, Chinese president Xi Jinping visited a satellite launch site[1] in the southwest Sichuan province, where he cheered the modernization and technological advances of China’s military. The setting was appropriate: Beidou 3 satellites were about to be sent into orbit, part of an effort to boost the satellite navigation system used by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)—one goal being the ability to strike enemy targets with millimeter-level accuracy.

China’s military upgrade goes beyond space-based navigation. Last May, Quartz highlighted notable advances[2] like stealth fighter jets, high-tech reconnaissance ships, and long-range air-to-air missiles. The world’s largest operational amphibious aircraft, the AG600, had recently completed a taxiing test. (Update: It completed a successful maiden flight[3] in December.)

China's domestically developed AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft, is seen during its maiden flight in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China December 24, 2017.
The AG600 swoops in. (Reuters/Stringer)

Many PLA projects, including the AG600, are designed to help China assert itself as an emerging maritime power. That’s especially the case in the contested South China Sea, where China has been fortifying remote outposts[4] with military facilities including missile shelters, sensor arrays, and radar systems. The country is also building a testing facility in the sea for unmanned vehicles. Located near the coastal city of Zhuhai, it’s slated to become the biggest of its kind in the world[5].

Meanwhile China has been diving deep into scientific research. It recently gathered 120 experts in the fields of artificial intelligence and quantum computing to form a top research institute focused on military applications, state media reported last month[6]. One area of interest is the use of AI to assist the decision-making[7] of commanders of nuclear submarines.

The PLA also wants to use quantum computers, vastly more powerful than today’s machines, to help it crack encrypted enemy codes and track targets now invisible from space, such as stealth bombers taking off at night. The technology could also lead to completely secure methods of communication, which is one reason China has been experimenting with a quantum satellite launched into space in August 2016[8]. By 2020, China plans to open[9] quantum research supercenter, with military applications very much in mind.

China’s progress in military technology hasn’t gone unnoticed. On Feb. 14, admiral Harry Harris, head of US Pacific Command, warned lawmakers[10] that “China’s impressive military buildup could soon challenge the United States across almost every domain.” He mentioned Beijing’s investments in the AI and hypersonic missiles (see more below). If the US does not keep pace, he added, it “will struggle to compete with the People’s Liberation Army on future battlefields.”

Here are the latest examples of Chinese military technology that have caught attention:

Aircraft carrier complement

Last year China celebrated its first homegrown aircraft carrier[11]. It’s now working on a second one that will include an electromagnetic catapult[12] for launching fighter jets—a big improvement over the current ski-jump design. But to be effective, carriers need the support of surveillance aircraft to detect threats and help manage aerial operations. With that in mind, China is developing the Shaanxi KJ-600[13], its first carrier-borne early-warning plane. Likely to be compatible with the electromagnetic catapult, it will pack active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, meaning it can spot enemy aircraft at long range,[14] and, at some angles, even stealth fighter jets like the hugely expensive F-35s the US deployed to Japan[15] last year. Of course, China already has various shipborne and land-based radars, along with less-advanced[16] surveillance planes. Still, the development of the KJ-600 shows Beijing is thinking about distant sea operations—and the need for truly combat-ready carrier groups.

Electromagnetic railgun

China’s interest in electromagnetic technology goes beyond catapults[17]. Late last month, images surfaced of what appeared to be an electromagnetic railgun installed on the bow of a Chinese warship docked in a Hubei province shipyard, as reported by the Drive[18]. Though the PLA stayed mum, a consensus soon emerged[19] among military observers that the system was in all likelihood such a railgun. If true, China is the first nation to install such a weapon on a ship. The US Navy has tested experimental railguns[20] from land, with projectiles reaching speeds of[21] up to 7,800 km/h (4,847 mph), with a range of about 185 km (115 miles). The idea behind such guns is to use powerful magnetic fields[22] to sling projectiles much faster and farther than existing systems can. Because they don’t require propelling charges, the relatively cheap projectiles can be stored in greater quantity in the same amount of space, making the system ideal for both sea control and amphibious operations. Given China’s vast maritime claims—and the historic threat of a possible invasion of Taiwan—it’s easy to see why the technology would appeal to Beijing’s military planners.

Hypersonic missiles

Hypersonic missiles are considered so disruptive that some experts want treaties in place to prevent their proliferation[23]. China, naturally, is busy working on its own (as are Russia and the US). As reported by the Diplomat[24], in November China tested the DF-17, which combines a ballistic missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV). The Diplomat’s source described it as “the first HGV test in the world using a system intended to be fielded operationally.” HGVs stop short of entering space[25], then skip back down to Earth at hypersonic speeds. By not reentering the atmosphere from a much higher apogee, they pose challenges for the early-warning satellites and missile-defense systems that watch for such things. What’s more, they’re nimble and can disguise their true targets until the final seconds. The medium-range DF-17 could be operational by 2020[26], and observers expect it will be capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional warheads. Improved versions of the technology will likely follow from the PLA.

Deep-sea reconnaissance

Given its maritime ambitions, China needs to detect enemy movements not just in the air, but also in the sea. To do that effectively, it needs to collect deep-sea data. The South China Morning Post reported in January that China has launched an underwater surveillance network—including buoys, surface vessels, satellites, and underwater gliders—designed to do just that. It gathers information about the underwater environment, such as water temperature and salinity—factors that affect the speed and direction of sound waves. Since submarines use sonar to track and target enemy vessels, that matters to the military. With such a system, China can monitor the waters in the South China Sea and elsewhere with greater precision—which could give other nations’ submarines pause before entering China-claimed areas. In January, China’s state-run media insisted the underwater research is for scientific research only—but then, Beijing once insisted that its construction at Mischief Reef in the South China Sea was for a fishermen’s shelter, while it is now clearly a military base.[27][28][29]

Drone swarms

China is also working on using swarms of small drones as a new method of attack. The idea is that such drones would respond in unison to commands yet avoid hitting one another. In December the country’s National University of Defense Technology conducted a test[30] involving a few dozen tiny unmanned aircraft used for a simulated reconnaissance mission. Future experiments could involve hundreds of drones, and the potential uses of the swarms are numerous. Carrying electronic warfare jammers, they could be used to confuse and overwhelm an enemy’s defenses before a more complex operation. Or they could simply be flown into the intakes of fighter jets to disable them. More uses for drone swarms will likely emerge in the future.

Evolving exoskeletons

This month, Norinco—a state-owned maker of armored vehicles—introduced a second-generation exoskeleton[31] designed for China’s infantry. Wearing the battery-powered body brace, a soldier can carry around about 100 lbs (45 kg) of weapons, ammo, and supplies. Compared to an earlier version introduced in 2015, this upgrade has a better battery, a streamlined harness, and stronger hydraulic and pneumatic actuators. It’s also lighter, which further improves battery performance. Future versions could include body armor. Meanwhile, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation has been showing off its own exoskeleton to naval military leaders: Supporting China’s maritime ambitions, after all, will entail loading plenty of cargo onto ships and planes.

References

  1. ^ visited a satellite launch site (www.xinhuanet.com)
  2. ^ highlighted notable advances (qz.com)
  3. ^ successful maiden flight (newatlas.com)
  4. ^ fortifying remote outposts (www.theguardian.com)
  5. ^ biggest of its kind in the world (www.scmp.com)
  6. ^ reported last month (www.scmp.com)
  7. ^ assist the decision-making (www.scmp.com)
  8. ^ in August 2016 (www.theguardian.com)
  9. ^ plans to open (www.popsci.com)
  10. ^ warned lawmakers (www.channelnewsasia.com)
  11. ^ first homegrown aircraft carrier (www.scmp.com)
  12. ^ electromagnetic catapult (www.scmp.com)
  13. ^ developing the Shaanxi KJ-600 (www.scmp.com)
  14. ^ at long range, (www.popsci.com)
  15. ^ deployed to Japan (edition.cnn.com)
  16. ^ less-advanced (www.defensenews.com)
  17. ^ goes beyond catapults (www.popsci.com)
  18. ^ reported by the Drive (www.thedrive.com)
  19. ^ soon emerged (www.thedrive.com)
  20. ^ tested experimental railguns (www.thedrive.com)
  21. ^ reaching speeds of (news.usni.org)
  22. ^ use powerful magnetic fields (www.popsci.com)
  23. ^ prevent their proliferation (www.rand.org)
  24. ^ reported by the Diplomat (thediplomat.com)
  25. ^ stop short of entering space (www.popularmechanics.com)
  26. ^ operational by 2020 (www.scmp.com)
  27. ^ reported in January (www.scmp.com)
  28. ^ scientific research only (www.ecns.cn)
  29. ^ clearly a military base. (qz.com)
  30. ^ conducted a test (www.thedrive.com)
  31. ^ second-generation exoskeleton (www.popsci.com)
0

Bigger, faster, stronger: China's ever-evolving military tech

Just ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, Chinese president Xi Jinping visited a satellite launch site[1] in the southwest Sichuan province, where he cheered the modernization and technological advances of China’s military. The setting was appropriate: Beidou 3 satellites were about to be sent into orbit, part of an effort to boost the satellite navigation system used by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)—one goal being the ability to strike enemy targets with millimeter-level accuracy.

China’s military upgrade goes beyond space-based navigation. Last May, Quartz highlighted notable advances[2] like stealth fighter jets, high-tech reconnaissance ships, and long-range air-to-air missiles. The world’s largest operational amphibious aircraft, the AG600, had recently completed a taxiing test. (Update: It completed a successful maiden flight[3] in December.)

China's domestically developed AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft, is seen during its maiden flight in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China December 24, 2017.
The AG600 swoops in. (Reuters/Stringer)

Many PLA projects, including the AG600, are designed to help China assert itself as an emerging maritime power. That’s especially the case in the contested South China Sea, where China has been fortifying remote outposts[4] with military facilities including missile shelters, sensor arrays, and radar systems. The country is also building a testing facility in the sea for unmanned vehicles. Located near the coastal city of Zhuhai, it’s slated to become the biggest of its kind in the world[5].

Meanwhile China has been diving deep into scientific research. It recently gathered 120 experts in the fields of artificial intelligence and quantum computing to form a top research institute focused on military applications, state media reported last month[6]. One area of interest is the use of AI to assist the decision-making[7] of commanders of nuclear submarines.

The PLA also wants to use quantum computers, vastly more powerful than today’s machines, to help it crack encrypted enemy codes and track targets now invisible from space, such as stealth bombers taking off at night. The technology could also lead to completely secure methods of communication, which is one reason China has been experimenting with a quantum satellite launched into space in August 2016[8]. By 2020, China plans to open[9] quantum research supercenter, with military applications very much in mind.

China’s progress in military technology hasn’t gone unnoticed. On Feb. 14, admiral Harry Harris, head of US Pacific Command, warned lawmakers[10] that “China’s impressive military buildup could soon challenge the United States across almost every domain.” He mentioned Beijing’s investments in the AI and hypersonic missiles (see more below). If the US does not keep pace, he added, it “will struggle to compete with the People’s Liberation Army on future battlefields.”

Here are the latest examples of Chinese military technology that have caught attention:

Aircraft carrier complement

Last year China celebrated its first homegrown aircraft carrier[11]. It’s now working on a second one that will include an electromagnetic catapult[12] for launching fighter jets—a big improvement over the current ski-jump design. But to be effective, carriers need the support of surveillance aircraft to detect threats and help manage aerial operations. With that in mind, China is developing the Shaanxi KJ-600[13], its first carrier-borne early-warning plane. Likely to be compatible with the electromagnetic catapult, it will pack active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, meaning it can spot enemy aircraft at long range,[14] and, at some angles, even stealth fighter jets like the hugely expensive F-35s the US deployed to Japan[15] last year. Of course, China already has various shipborne and land-based radars, along with less-advanced[16] surveillance planes. Still, the development of the KJ-600 shows Beijing is thinking about distant sea operations—and the need for truly combat-ready carrier groups.

Electromagnetic railgun

China’s interest in electromagnetic technology goes beyond catapults[17]. Late last month, images surfaced of what appeared to be an electromagnetic railgun installed on the bow of a Chinese warship docked in a Hubei province shipyard, as reported by the Drive[18]. Though the PLA stayed mum, a consensus soon emerged[19] among military observers that the system was in all likelihood such a railgun. If true, China is the first nation to install such a weapon on a ship. The US Navy has tested experimental railguns[20] from land, with projectiles reaching speeds of[21] up to 7,800 km/h (4,847 mph), with a range of about 185 km (115 miles). The idea behind such guns is to use powerful magnetic fields[22] to sling projectiles much faster and farther than existing systems can. Because they don’t require propelling charges, the relatively cheap projectiles can be stored in greater quantity in the same amount of space, making the system ideal for both sea control and amphibious operations. Given China’s vast maritime claims—and the historic threat of a possible invasion of Taiwan—it’s easy to see why the technology would appeal to Beijing’s military planners.

Hypersonic missiles

Hypersonic missiles are considered so disruptive that some experts want treaties in place to prevent their proliferation[23]. China, naturally, is busy working on its own (as are Russia and the US). As reported by the Diplomat[24], in November China tested the DF-17, which combines a ballistic missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV). The Diplomat’s source described it as “the first HGV test in the world using a system intended to be fielded operationally.” HGVs stop short of entering space[25], then skip back down to Earth at hypersonic speeds. By not reentering the atmosphere from a much higher apogee, they pose challenges for the early-warning satellites and missile-defense systems that watch for such things. What’s more, they’re nimble and can disguise their true targets until the final seconds. The medium-range DF-17 could be operational by 2020[26], and observers expect it will be capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional warheads. Improved versions of the technology will likely follow from the PLA.

Deep-sea reconnaissance

Given its maritime ambitions, China needs to detect enemy movements not just in the air, but also in the sea. To do that effectively, it needs to collect deep-sea data. The South China Morning Post reported in January that China has launched an underwater surveillance network—including buoys, surface vessels, satellites, and underwater gliders—designed to do just that. It gathers information about the underwater environment, such as water temperature and salinity—factors that affect the speed and direction of sound waves. Since submarines use sonar to track and target enemy vessels, that matters to the military. With such a system, China can monitor the waters in the South China Sea and elsewhere with greater precision—which could give other nations’ submarines pause before entering China-claimed areas. In January, China’s state-run media insisted the underwater research is for scientific research only—but then, Beijing once insisted that its construction at Mischief Reef in the South China Sea was for a fishermen’s shelter, while it is now clearly a military base.[27][28][29]

Drone swarms

China is also working on using swarms of small drones as a new method of attack. The idea is that such drones would respond in unison to commands yet avoid hitting one another. In December the country’s National University of Defense Technology conducted a test[30] involving a few dozen tiny unmanned aircraft used for a simulated reconnaissance mission. Future experiments could involve hundreds of drones, and the potential uses of the swarms are numerous. Carrying electronic warfare jammers, they could be used to confuse and overwhelm an enemy’s defenses before a more complex operation. Or they could simply be flown into the intakes of fighter jets to disable them. More uses for drone swarms will likely emerge in the future.

Evolving exoskeletons

This month, Norinco—a state-owned maker of armored vehicles—introduced a second-generation exoskeleton[31] designed for China’s infantry. Wearing the battery-powered body brace, a soldier can carry around about 100 lbs (45 kg) of weapons, ammo, and supplies. Compared to an earlier version introduced in 2015, this upgrade has a better battery, a streamlined harness, and stronger hydraulic and pneumatic actuators. It’s also lighter, which further improves battery performance. Future versions could include body armor. Meanwhile, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation has been showing off its own exoskeleton to naval military leaders: Supporting China’s maritime ambitions, after all, will entail loading plenty of cargo onto ships and planes.

References

  1. ^ visited a satellite launch site (www.xinhuanet.com)
  2. ^ highlighted notable advances (qz.com)
  3. ^ successful maiden flight (newatlas.com)
  4. ^ fortifying remote outposts (www.theguardian.com)
  5. ^ biggest of its kind in the world (www.scmp.com)
  6. ^ reported last month (www.scmp.com)
  7. ^ assist the decision-making (www.scmp.com)
  8. ^ in August 2016 (www.theguardian.com)
  9. ^ plans to open (www.popsci.com)
  10. ^ warned lawmakers (www.channelnewsasia.com)
  11. ^ first homegrown aircraft carrier (www.scmp.com)
  12. ^ electromagnetic catapult (www.scmp.com)
  13. ^ developing the Shaanxi KJ-600 (www.scmp.com)
  14. ^ at long range, (www.popsci.com)
  15. ^ deployed to Japan (edition.cnn.com)
  16. ^ less-advanced (www.defensenews.com)
  17. ^ goes beyond catapults (www.popsci.com)
  18. ^ reported by the Drive (www.thedrive.com)
  19. ^ soon emerged (www.thedrive.com)
  20. ^ tested experimental railguns (www.thedrive.com)
  21. ^ reaching speeds of (news.usni.org)
  22. ^ use powerful magnetic fields (www.popsci.com)
  23. ^ prevent their proliferation (www.rand.org)
  24. ^ reported by the Diplomat (thediplomat.com)
  25. ^ stop short of entering space (www.popularmechanics.com)
  26. ^ operational by 2020 (www.scmp.com)
  27. ^ reported in January (www.scmp.com)
  28. ^ scientific research only (www.ecns.cn)
  29. ^ clearly a military base. (qz.com)
  30. ^ conducted a test (www.thedrive.com)
  31. ^ second-generation exoskeleton (www.popsci.com)
0

These Chinese military innovations threaten US superiority, experts say

BEIJING — The Chinese New Year began with the traditional lighting of firecrackers on Friday, but the country’s military has been working on incendiaries on an entirely different scale.

Over the past year, the nation that invented gunpowder has been rolling out an array of high-tech weapons that some experts say could threaten the global superiority of the United States.

“The U.S. no longer possesses clear military-technical dominance, and China is rapidly emerging as a would-be superpower in science and technology,” said Elsa B. Kania, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army “might even cut ahead of the U.S. in new frontiers of military power,” she added.

Image: China's J-20 stealth fighter aircraft

Image: China's J-20 stealth fighter aircraft

The J-20 is China’s first homemade stealth jet. CCP/ColorChinaPhoto / AP file

Despite the recent sharp rhetoric[1] from President Donald Trump, analysts say an open conflict between Beijing and Washing is unlikely. Others dismiss the idea that China might soon outpace the U.S. in military power.

“There is serious self-congratulation and boastfulness about China’s real military ability,” according to Wu Ge, a military analyst and columnist for China’s liberal-leaning Southern Weekly newspaper.

Still, it is clear that significant milestones have been reached by a country that, alongside Russia, is categorized in Trump’s national security strategy as a “revisionist power”[2] — a nation seeking to redefine the world along values contrary to America’s.

Here are five of China’s most eye-grabbing innovations:

1. An electromagnetic railgun

Earlier this month, pictures emerged showing what some experts believed was an electromagnetic railgun mounted on a ship. A Chinese military analyst, Cheng Shuoren, was quoted by the state media as saying it was an engineering feat of “epoch-making significance.”

Instead of explosives, railguns use powerful electromagnets to fire projectiles as far as 100 nautical miles (115 miles) at seven times the speed of sound. This dwarfs the range and speed of conventional guns, whose ammunition can travel only 10 to 20 nautical miles.

That allows a railgun to attack ships, aircraft and land targets with the range and accuracy normally expected from missiles.

The U.S. has tested similar technology but never at sea. If confirmed, the Chinese variant would be the first time such a weapon had been deployed on water.

2. High-tech warships

A potential flashpoint between China and the U.S. lies in the South China Sea[3]. A web of overlapping territorial claims in the energy-rich region has not stopped Beijing from building military facilities on small islands and reefs.

This has coincided with China making serious upgrades to its naval ability. Last summer, it launched its most modern military vessel, the Type 055.

The 12,000-ton stealth guided-missile destroyer, given the code name “Renhai” by NATO, is expected to go into full service this year. It has been built for anti-aircraft, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare and is expected to play an instrumental role in China’s future aircraft-carrier battle formations.

China launches first domestically built aircraft carrier

China launches first domestically built aircraft carrier

China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, takes water at Dalian Port in northeast China’s Liaoning province in April 2017. Bei piao / AP

It follows the launch last year of China’s second aircraft carrier[4], Type 001A. This 65,000-ton vessel is a domestically produced variant of its first carrier, the Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet model built in 1985. The Type 001A can host 35 aircraft compared to only 24 on the Liaoning, and could enter service by the end of the year according to some analysts.

China is now working on a third carrier, an 80,000-ton vessel dubbed Type 002, that will be able to host more than 40 aircraft and is expected to feature an advanced catapult that can launch heavier jets more quickly.

Some local experts predict China’s strategy of regional strength means it will eventually need four to five carrier battle groups, smaller than the U.S. global strategy that requires 10 to 11 groups.

“China’s naval modernization covers all areas of the fleet, and the speed and scale of it is impressive,” the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank, noted in July.[5]

3. Familiar fighter jets

China last week announced that the Chengdu J-20, its first homemade stealth jet dubbed Black Eagle, had entered combat service, breaking the stealth fighter monopoly of the U.S. and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

An answer to America’s F-22 and F-35, the J-20 is a fifth-generation fighter that can engage targets 120 miles away and deliver precision strikes.

But the similarities between the Chinese aircraft and its American counterparts may not be coincidental. U.S. officials have accused the Chinese military of hacking into their computer systems[6] and stealing information relating to their cutting-edge equipment.

Some experts say that the striking similarities are clear evidence that this stolen know-how has allowed Beijing to play catch-up.

Undeterred, China is now developing its second stealth fighter, the Shenyang J-31 Falcon, which experts say could eventually be deployed on China’s aircraft carriers and compete in the global export market.

Boosting the Chinese Air Force further was the recent successful flight of the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the AG600 Kunlong, which was designed for maritime rescue but, with a range of 2,800 miles, can play a potentially important role in the South China Sea.

China is also improving its Y-20, the world’s largest military transporter currently in production, by replacing its Russian engines with ones produced at home. With a cargo capacity of 70 tons, it could serve as a carrier of China’s air-launched rocket system.

4. A hypersonic glide vehicle

China carried out the first tests in November of a “hypersonic glide vehicle” named the DF-17, according to The Diplomat[7], an online magazine covering the Asia-Pacific region.

This medium-range weapon differs from a regular ballistic missile by gliding back to Earth on a slower, flatter trajectory that evades the gaze of radar-enabled U.S. missile defenses.

Neither the U.S. nor Russia are believed to have test-flown this type of technology but both are developing it.

Once deployed, the DF-17 could supplement the DF-21D, a medium-range ballistic missile known as China’s “carrier killer.”

Last year, China also brought into service its latest generation of intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-41, which can carry 10 maneuverable warheads and has a range of 7,500 to 9,300 miles. That capability puts the entire U.S. within range.

5. Artificial Intelligence

Chinese researchers have revealed plans to upgrade the country’s nuclear submarines with artificial intelligence, signaling efforts to tap into military uses for AI.

China unveiled an ambitious plan in July to “lead the world” in this field, with a goal of creating a $150-billion AI industry by 2030.

In the same month, swarm intelligence — the coordinated deployment of autonomous machines — was demonstrated when a state-owned company successfully launched 119 drones[8] that performed formations in the sky.

For the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said Kania of the Center for a New American Security, effective military applications of artificial intelligence will include cyber and electronic warfare as well as “swarms of drones that might be used to target high-value U.S. weapons platforms, such as aircraft carriers.”

She added that China’s armed forces could also use AI to help them make better decisions on the battlefield.

References

  1. ^ the recent sharp rhetoric (www.nbcnews.com)
  2. ^ Trump’s national security strategy as a “revisionist power” (www.nbcnews.com)
  3. ^ lies in the South China Sea (www.nbcnews.com)
  4. ^ second aircraft carrier (www.nbcnews.com)
  5. ^ noted in July. (www.iiss.org)
  6. ^ hacking into their computer systems (www.nbcnews.com)
  7. ^ according to The Diplomat (thediplomat.com)
  8. ^ successfully launched 119 drones (www.chinadaily.com.cn)
0

These Chinese military innovations threaten US superiority, experts say

BEIJING — The Chinese New Year began with the traditional lighting of firecrackers on Friday, but the country’s military has been working on incendiaries on an entirely different scale.

Over the past year, the nation that invented gunpowder has been rolling out an array of high-tech weapons that some experts say could threaten the global superiority of the United States.

“The U.S. no longer possesses clear military-technical dominance, and China is rapidly emerging as a would-be superpower in science and technology,” said Elsa B. Kania, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army “might even cut ahead of the U.S. in new frontiers of military power,” she added.

Image: China's J-20 stealth fighter aircraft

Image: China's J-20 stealth fighter aircraft

The J-20 is China’s first homemade stealth jet. CCP/ColorChinaPhoto / AP file

Despite the recent sharp rhetoric[1] from President Donald Trump, analysts say an open conflict between Beijing and Washing is unlikely. Others dismiss the idea that China might soon outpace the U.S. in military power.

“There is serious self-congratulation and boastfulness about China’s real military ability,” according to Wu Ge, a military analyst and columnist for China’s liberal-leaning Southern Weekly newspaper.

Still, it is clear that significant milestones have been reached by a country that, alongside Russia, is categorized in Trump’s national security strategy as a “revisionist power”[2] — a nation seeking to redefine the world along values contrary to America’s.

Here are five of China’s most eye-grabbing innovations:

1. An electromagnetic railgun

Earlier this month, pictures emerged showing what some experts believed was an electromagnetic railgun mounted on a ship. A Chinese military analyst, Cheng Shuoren, was quoted by the state media as saying it was an engineering feat of “epoch-making significance.”

Instead of explosives, railguns use powerful electromagnets to fire projectiles as far as 100 nautical miles (115 miles) at seven times the speed of sound. This dwarfs the range and speed of conventional guns, whose ammunition can travel only 10 to 20 nautical miles.

That allows a railgun to attack ships, aircraft and land targets with the range and accuracy normally expected from missiles.

The U.S. has tested similar technology but never at sea. If confirmed, the Chinese variant would be the first time such a weapon had been deployed on water.

2. High-tech warships

A potential flashpoint between China and the U.S. lies in the South China Sea[3]. A web of overlapping territorial claims in the energy-rich region has not stopped Beijing from building military facilities on small islands and reefs.

This has coincided with China making serious upgrades to its naval ability. Last summer, it launched its most modern military vessel, the Type 055.

The 12,000-ton stealth guided-missile destroyer, given the code name “Renhai” by NATO, is expected to go into full service this year. It has been built for anti-aircraft, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare and is expected to play an instrumental role in China’s future aircraft-carrier battle formations.

China launches first domestically built aircraft carrier

China launches first domestically built aircraft carrier

China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, takes water at Dalian Port in northeast China’s Liaoning province in April 2017. Bei piao / AP

It follows the launch last year of China’s second aircraft carrier[4], Type 001A. This 65,000-ton vessel is a domestically produced variant of its first carrier, the Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet model built in 1985. The Type 001A can host 35 aircraft compared to only 24 on the Liaoning, and could enter service by the end of the year according to some analysts.

China is now working on a third carrier, an 80,000-ton vessel dubbed Type 002, that will be able to host more than 40 aircraft and is expected to feature an advanced catapult that can launch heavier jets more quickly.

Some local experts predict China’s strategy of regional strength means it will eventually need four to five carrier battle groups, smaller than the U.S. global strategy that requires 10 to 11 groups.

“China’s naval modernization covers all areas of the fleet, and the speed and scale of it is impressive,” the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank, noted in July.[5]

3. Familiar fighter jets

China last week announced that the Chengdu J-20, its first homemade stealth jet dubbed Black Eagle, had entered combat service, breaking the stealth fighter monopoly of the U.S. and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

An answer to America’s F-22 and F-35, the J-20 is a fifth-generation fighter that can engage targets 120 miles away and deliver precision strikes.

But the similarities between the Chinese aircraft and its American counterparts may not be coincidental. U.S. officials have accused the Chinese military of hacking into their computer systems[6] and stealing information relating to their cutting-edge equipment.

Some experts say that the striking similarities are clear evidence that this stolen know-how has allowed Beijing to play catch-up.

Undeterred, China is now developing its second stealth fighter, the Shenyang J-31 Falcon, which experts say could eventually be deployed on China’s aircraft carriers and compete in the global export market.

Boosting the Chinese Air Force further was the recent successful flight of the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the AG600 Kunlong, which was designed for maritime rescue but, with a range of 2,800 miles, can play a potentially important role in the South China Sea.

China is also improving its Y-20, the world’s largest military transporter, by replacing its Russian engines with ones produced at home. With a cargo capacity of 70 tons, it could serve as a carrier of China’s air-launched rocket system.

4. A hypersonic glide vehicle

China carried out the first tests in November of a “hypersonic glide vehicle” named the DF-17, according to The Diplomat[7], an online magazine covering the Asia-Pacific region.

This medium-range weapon differs from a regular ballistic missile by gliding back to Earth on a slower, flatter trajectory that evades the gaze of radar-enabled U.S. missile defenses.

Neither the U.S. nor Russia are believed to have test-flown this type of technology but both are developing it.

Once deployed, the DF-17 could supplement the DF-21D, a medium-range ballistic missile known as China’s “carrier killer.”

Last year, China also brought into service its latest generation of intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-41, which can carry 10 maneuverable warheads and has a range of 7,500 to 9,300 miles. That capability puts the entire U.S. within range.

5. Artificial Intelligence

Chinese researchers have revealed plans to upgrade the country’s nuclear submarines with artificial intelligence, signaling efforts to tap into military uses for AI.

China unveiled an ambitious plan in July to “lead the world” in this field, with a goal of creating a $150-billion AI industry by 2030.

In the same month, swarm intelligence — the coordinated deployment of autonomous machines — was demonstrated when a state-owned company successfully launched 119 drones[8] that performed formations in the sky.

For the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said Kania of the Center for a New American Security, effective military applications of artificial intelligence will include cyber and electronic warfare as well as “swarms of drones that might be used to target high-value U.S. weapons platforms, such as aircraft carriers.”

She added that China’s armed forces could also use AI to help them make better decisions on the battlefield.

References

  1. ^ the recent sharp rhetoric (www.nbcnews.com)
  2. ^ Trump’s national security strategy as a “revisionist power” (www.nbcnews.com)
  3. ^ lies in the South China Sea (www.nbcnews.com)
  4. ^ second aircraft carrier (www.nbcnews.com)
  5. ^ noted in July. (www.iiss.org)
  6. ^ hacking into their computer systems (www.nbcnews.com)
  7. ^ according to The Diplomat (thediplomat.com)
  8. ^ successfully launched 119 drones (www.chinadaily.com.cn)
0

These Chinese military innovations threaten US superiority, experts say

BEIJING — The Chinese New Year began with the traditional lighting of firecrackers on Friday, but the country’s military has been working on incendiaries on an entirely different scale.

Over the past year, the nation that invented gunpowder has been rolling out an array of high-tech weapons that some experts say could threaten the global superiority of the United States.

“The U.S. no longer possesses clear military-technical dominance, and China is rapidly emerging as a would-be superpower in science and technology,” said Elsa B. Kania, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army “might even cut ahead of the U.S. in new frontiers of military power,” she added.

Image: China's J-20 stealth fighter aircraft

Image: China's J-20 stealth fighter aircraft

The J-20 is China’s first homemade stealth jet. CCP/ColorChinaPhoto / AP file

Despite the recent sharp rhetoric[1] from President Donald Trump, analysts say an open conflict between Beijing and Washing is unlikely. Others dismiss the idea that China might soon outpace the U.S. in military power.

“There is serious self-congratulation and boastfulness about China’s real military ability,” according to Wu Ge, a military analyst and columnist for China’s liberal-leaning Southern Weekly newspaper.

Still, it is clear that significant milestones have been reached by a country that, alongside Russia, is categorized in Trump’s national security strategy as a “revisionist power”[2] — a nation seeking to redefine the world along values contrary to America’s.

Here are five of China’s most eye-grabbing innovations:

1. An electromagnetic railgun

Earlier this month, pictures emerged showing what some experts believed was an electromagnetic railgun mounted on a ship. A Chinese military analyst, Cheng Shuoren, was quoted by the state media as saying it was an engineering feat of “epoch-making significance.”

Instead of explosives, railguns use powerful electromagnets to fire projectiles as far as 100 nautical miles (115 miles) at seven times the speed of sound. This dwarfs the range and speed of conventional guns, whose ammunition can travel only 10 to 20 nautical miles.

That allows a railgun to attack ships, aircraft and land targets with the range and accuracy normally expected from missiles.

The U.S. has tested similar technology but never at sea. If confirmed, the Chinese variant would be the first time such a weapon had been deployed on water.

2. High-tech warships

A potential flashpoint between China and the U.S. lies in the South China Sea[3]. A web of overlapping territorial claims in the energy-rich region has not stopped Beijing from building military facilities on small islands and reefs.

This has coincided with China making serious upgrades to its naval ability. Last summer, it launched its most modern military vessel, the Type 055.

The 12,000-ton stealth guided-missile destroyer, given the code name “Renhai” by NATO, is expected to go into full service this year. It has been built for anti-aircraft, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare and is expected to play an instrumental role in China’s future aircraft-carrier battle formations.

China launches first domestically built aircraft carrier

China launches first domestically built aircraft carrier

China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, takes water at Dalian Port in northeast China’s Liaoning province in April 2017. Bei piao / AP

It follows the launch last year of China’s second aircraft carrier[4], Type 001A. This 65,000-ton vessel is a domestically produced variant of its first carrier, the Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet model built in 1985. The Type 001A can host 35 aircraft compared to only 24 on the Liaoning, and could enter service by the end of the year according to some analysts.

China is now working on a third carrier, an 80,000-ton vessel dubbed Type 002, that will be able to host more than 40 aircraft and is expected to feature an advanced catapult that can launch heavier jets more quickly.

Some local experts predict China’s strategy of regional strength means it will eventually need four to five carrier battle groups, smaller than the U.S. global strategy that requires 10 to 11 groups.

“China’s naval modernization covers all areas of the fleet, and the speed and scale of it is impressive,” the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank, noted in July.[5]

3. Familiar fighter jets

China last week announced that the Chengdu J-20, its first homemade stealth jet dubbed Black Eagle, had entered combat service, breaking the stealth fighter monopoly of the U.S. and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

An answer to America’s F-22 and F-35, the J-20 is a fifth-generation fighter that can engage targets 120 miles away and deliver precision strikes.

But the similarities between the Chinese aircraft and its American counterparts may not be coincidental. U.S. officials have accused the Chinese military of hacking into their computer systems[6] and stealing information relating to their cutting-edge equipment.

Some experts say that the striking similarities are clear evidence that this stolen know-how has allowed Beijing to play catch-up.

Undeterred, China is now developing its second stealth fighter, the Shenyang J-31 Falcon, which experts say could eventually be deployed on China’s aircraft carriers and compete in the global export market.

Boosting the Chinese Air Force further was the recent successful flight of the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the AG600 Kunlong, which was designed for maritime rescue but, with a range of 2,800 miles, can play a potentially important role in the South China Sea.

China is also improving its Y-20, the world’s largest military transporter, by replacing its Russian engines with ones produced at home. With a cargo capacity of 70 tons, it could serve as a carrier of China’s air-launched rocket system.

4. A hypersonic glide vehicle

China carried out the first tests in November of a “hypersonic glide vehicle” named the DF-17, according to The Diplomat[7], an online magazine covering the Asia-Pacific region.

This medium-range weapon differs from a regular ballistic missile by gliding back to Earth on a slower, flatter trajectory that evades the gaze of radar-enabled U.S. missile defenses.

Neither the U.S. nor Russia are believed to have test-flown this type of technology but both are developing it.

Once deployed, the DF-17 could supplement the DF-21D, a medium-range ballistic missile known as China’s “carrier killer.”

Last year, China also brought into service its latest generation of intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-41, which can carry 10 maneuverable warheads and has a range of 7,500 to 9,300 miles. That capability puts the entire U.S. within range.

5. Artificial Intelligence

Chinese researchers have revealed plans to upgrade the country’s nuclear submarines with artificial intelligence, signaling efforts to tap into military uses for AI.

China unveiled an ambitious plan in July to “lead the world” in this field, with a goal of creating a $150-billion AI industry by 2030.

In the same month, swarm intelligence — the coordinated deployment of autonomous machines — was demonstrated when a state-owned company successfully launched 119 drones[8] that performed formations in the sky.

For the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said Kania of the Center for a New American Security, effective military applications of artificial intelligence will include cyber and electronic warfare as well as “swarms of drones that might be used to target high-value U.S. weapons platforms, such as aircraft carriers.”

She added that China’s armed forces could also use AI to help them make better decisions on the battlefield.

References

  1. ^ the recent sharp rhetoric (www.nbcnews.com)
  2. ^ Trump’s national security strategy as a “revisionist power” (www.nbcnews.com)
  3. ^ lies in the South China Sea (www.nbcnews.com)
  4. ^ second aircraft carrier (www.nbcnews.com)
  5. ^ noted in July. (www.iiss.org)
  6. ^ hacking into their computer systems (www.nbcnews.com)
  7. ^ according to The Diplomat (thediplomat.com)
  8. ^ successfully launched 119 drones (www.chinadaily.com.cn)