In a recent development, it has been observed that strikes against maritime targets have become a common occurrence for US pilots. However, the Chinese military has been diligently working on strengthening its air defenses over the course of several decades. They have strategically placed an extensive network of surface-to-air missiles on both land and warships, creating a formidable challenge for US forces, according to commanders.
China has been steadily launching a series of new and technologically advanced ships, resulting in the establishment of the world’s largest navy. In addition, the ships have been deployed on increasingly intricate missions spanning a broader expanse of the Pacific. In August 2022, a larger and more capable force was showcased during exercises of unprecedented size around Taiwan. These exercises took place shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
In a recent statement, the user highlighted the potential clash between China and Taiwan, emphasizing the ships as a primary concern. The user referenced Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and the actions taken by the Taiwanese with their ships. During an Air and Space Forces Association conference in March, General Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of US Pacific Air Forces, revealed that they were placed on the east side of Taiwan as a form of blockade.
The ships possess the capability to establish an engagement zone designed to prevent access or deny areas, commonly referred to as an anti-access/area-denial engagement zone. This is made possible through the utilization of surface-to-air missiles, which can be launched from the ships. According to Wilsbach, in order to overcome these obstacles, the ships must be sunk.
In a recent statement, Wilsbach expressed apprehension regarding China’s formidable arsenal designed to counter US military operations. Brendan Mulvaney, the director of the China Aerospace Studies Institute, a division of the Department of the Air Force, highlighted that this arsenal includes what is considered to be the most densely concentrated and extensively interconnected air-defense system worldwide, situated along China’s eastern coastline.
According to a statement made by Mulvaney on a podcast in September, the air-defense system in question is a crucial component of China’s “counter-intervention” strategy. This strategy aims to prevent the United States, along with its allies and partners, from entering the region rather than engaging in a piecemeal defeat of the United States.
China’s navy has reportedly revealed plans to engage in combat operations while utilizing the protection of their defenses. It is believed that their advanced Type 052D-class destroyers and Type 055-class cruisers could potentially expand the range of this protective shield.
According to Lyle Goldstein, the director of Asia engagement at Defense Priorities, China’s military has not engaged in any warfare since 1979. However, despite this lack of combat experience, Chinese strategists have extensively studied past wars and learned from various military forces. Goldstein suggests that China’s military may have drawn lessons from the United States’ utilization of “rings of air- and missile-defense management.” These strategies encompass a range of tactics, including combat air patrols conducted by carrier aircraft and the implementation of close-in weapon systems on individual ships.
China’s naval air-defense network faces a notable weakness due to the incapability of its existing aircraft carriers, Liaoning and Shandong, to deploy airborne-early-warning-and-control aircraft. These aircraft, similar to those found on US carriers, play a crucial role in directing friendly forces and monitoring enemy ships and aircraft.
According to Goldstein, it is expected that the carriers would remain in close proximity to Taiwan in the event of a conflict. These carriers would be safeguarded by the Chinese air force, as well as the formidable air defense and missile defense capabilities offered by the Type 052D- and Type 055-class ships.
China’s latest aircraft carrier, Fujian, is equipped with an electromagnetic catapult, enabling it to launch the KJ-500 airborne-early-warning-and-control plane. This technological advancement will significantly expand China’s radar coverage and enhance its capabilities, according to Goldstein.