Missiles Will Dominate Future Sea War
There’s plenty food for thought about the next war at sea, in the following article from David Axe at World Politics Review. Citing how some are taking the Chinese threat seriously, he posts ” Japan Counters China’s Naval Build-Up“:
Japan, for one, is quietly enhancing military capabilities that themselves pose a serious threat to the fast-growing Chinese navy. Indeed, for all China’s rapid naval expansion, the strategic scales in the Pacific still tilt in favor of the U.S. and Japan — and should continue to do so, provided the ruling Democratic Party of Japan maintains Japan’s current course.
This in response to a provocative buildup by the Mainland:
In the last decade, China has accelerated its production of large warships, aiming to replace hundreds of Cold War-era coastal patrol vessels with ships capable of traveling far from shore for extended periods of time. In addition to scores of destroyers, frigates and amphibious assault ships, China is also modifying the incomplete, former Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag for potential operational use. The DF-21 ballistic anti-ship missile, still in development, and associated targeting satellites round out the Chinese naval modernization.
China hasn’t shed off all her coastal ships, having produced some 40 Type 022 catamaran fast attack craft in just the past few years. What Axe is alluding to is that the nation no longer has an “all coast defense navy”, but a balanced fleet of mixed capabilities. Note what Tokyo is concentrating on, weapons which the USN also has little interest in, obsessed as they are with last-century naval airpower, for seventy years dominating the strategy and budget:
Japan, too, is testing supersonic anti-ship missiles that could sink Chinese surface ships. And the island nation already possesses the world’s most sophisticated non-nuclear submarines — a big threat to China’s surface and sub-surface forces — and is bolstering its surveillance capabilities.
Though Japan does have a small carrier and is planning another, for decades now it has possessed a more potent type of ship, which New Wars has counted among the New Battleships:
“The biggest thing that’s been on the minds of anyone is Ballistic Missile Defense and U.S. teamwork,” Wertheim said. The Japanese navy’s new Kongo-class destroyers, among the most powerful warships in Asia, are fitted with radars and missiles for tracking and shooting down ballistic missiles. The Kongos are used in part to defend the Japanese home islands. But “that BMD capability could also be used to protect U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in the event of hostilities,” (Eric Wertheim, an independent naval analyst and author of the popular “Combat Fleets of the World) pointed out.
That last statement makes me wonder “to what purpose”? If the Japanese are deploying supersonic missiles that doesn’t risk pilots or a $25 billion carrier group, why even place the giant ships in harm’s way? The next fight will be between missiles. Though they will likely still be such legacy vessels around as prestige ships, they won’t be sailing anywhere there is trouble.