How America Would Be Screwed If China Invades Taiwan

The Praised Fleet of United States Navy may not be ready for a conflict with China.

One recent analysis found that the United States would likely lose a large number of ships in the war with China through Taiwan, thanks to a narrow technological advantage. And experts say the US fleet of more than 490 ships is also losing its numerical advantage over China’s 661-ship fleet.

“We are not fully prepared,” said William Toti, the head of the Navy’s anti-submarine force. China strategy before retirement. “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant. They have more ships than we do. They have more industrial capacity than we do.”

Diminished advantage

A report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies concluded that the US Navy, had a budget about $220 billion last year, it would likely suffer heavy losses if the United States sought to defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion. In the early days of the conflict, Chinese missiles were able to destroy US air bases in Japan and Guam, and sink two US aircraft carriers and about 10 to 20 destroyers, and cruiser.

“Such losses would damage the United States’ global standing for many years,” the study’s authors wrote, although they expect the United States to prevail in the end. “Although Taiwan’s military is not disrupted, it is severely degraded and must protect a damaged economy on an island without electricity and basic services.” Research shows that the US will still win using 50 attack submarines combined with Air Force bombers.

Toti said in an interview with The Daily Beast that war games are conducted for research to reflect reality at sea. The United States is facing a rapid increase in China’s military capabilities, including advanced anti-ship missiles. “Anything that floats is vulnerable, including aircraft carriers and surface ships,” Toti said.

Paul van Hooft, an analyst at the Hague Center for Strategic Studies, said that the Chinese military has been successful in trying to catch up with the US fleet by copying precise US weapon designs. However, he said, China is having a harder time closing the gap in areas like stealth fighters and has been trying to fill the gap by investing in artificial intelligence. He said that AI could help China in a future naval conflict by helping its military to more precisely target ships.

“You can think of artificial intelligence as improving a few things like jamming and other types of electronic warfare,” he added.

Brandon Tseng, a former naval officer, said another area where technology could play a role in a future conflict is the proliferation of precision-guided anti-ship missiles, which threaten even the most advanced large naval ships in the US fleet. Such missiles are relatively cheap to manufacture and capable of destroying very expensive warships.

The future of naval warfare may have played out in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Tseng, now president of Shield AI, which develops drones, aircraft and artificial intelligence-powered software for the military, pointed to the sinking of the Russian warship Moskva in April 2022. The $750 million Moskva ship, which was equipped with a modern missile defense system, was sunk by two Ukrainian anti-ship missiles, each worth about $1 million.

China will witness the sinking of the Moscow ship and is likely to use the incident as a lesson for its navy. Tseng said China’s current approach to investing heavily in smaller missile ships, each armed with eight anti-ship missiles, is an example of a strategy to intimidate carrier battle groups. much more expensive American flight with cheaper small ships armed with advanced anti-ship missiles like those that sank the ships of Moscow. Advanced technology in satellites, aircraft and submarines can locate, track and target large surface ships much more easily and provide targeting data back to the rocket ship.

Sam J. Tangredi, a retired Navy captain who now teaches at the US Naval War College, points out that technological innovations work just as well against surface ships, including aircraft carrier. He said that many assessments of missiles versus surface ships – such as claims that China’s new anti-ship ballistic missiles render aircraft carriers obsolete – are inaccurate.

“Warships do not operate individually against the enemy; they function as combat groups supporting each other or as an overall fleet (at least when the US Navy is active). Therefore, an engagement does not involve weapons against a ship, but a fleet (and joint force) against enemy forces,” he said.

Tangredi says advanced satellites and radars can detect a fleet at sea. But the same systems could see the launch of land-based anti-ship missiles to warn the fleet of impending attacks.

“Since warships are (obviously) highly maneuverable, they are much harder to target.

compared to land bases—one only needs to know the latitude/longitude or grid coordinates and calculate and control the rocket’s burn time (the amount of fuel consumed to land in a given location). specific points),” he added.

Cyber ​​threat

A war with China could involve keyboard warriors as well as missiles as ships are also vulnerable to cyber threats. Tangredi predicts that the first phase of a future naval battle will be electronic warfare, in which both sides will vie for control of the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace to blind or fool sensors and systems. enemy targeting system.

Egon Rinderer, chief technology officer at defense firm Shift5, and said: “The surface ships and the weapons systems they contain are multimillion-billion dollar floating computers, but they lack even the capabilities. the most basic digital defense for smartphones in our pocket.” a former naval systems operator. “We are starting to see the real-time impact of combining dynamic and cyber capabilities on the battlefield. These types of integrated tactics could have important implications for the future of naval warfare and for the readiness and lethality of our U.S. military.”

Rinderer said that while the Department of Defense has invested heavily to protect against threats to its IT infrastructure, efforts to protect operational technology (OT) are found in surface ships, combat vehicles and weapons systems failed.

He added: “We relied on ‘security through obscurity’ to protect the OT technology on board, but its weaknesses lead to exposure, which, if exploited, would allow enemies to quickly quickly gain an asymmetrical battlefield advantage.

Tseng said the Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) Force is having a hard time incorporating AI into acquisition processes and network infrastructure, and creating a force ready to grow. and use AI. “As always, technology is the biggest military differentiator and will ultimately determine whether large-scale global conflict can be prevented. We risk falling behind the PLA because of a lack of investment in these technologies,” he added.

Toti said that to prevail in a future conflict with China, the US needs to build more ships, especially submarines.

“Submarines are the only type of ship that can prevent an invasion through the Taiwan Strait because they can enter there with relative impunity and defeat the Chinese ships that are trying to invade Taiwan. Surface ships are at great risk of being destroyed by Chinese missiles. Submarines don’t have to take that risk.”

Tangredi argued that the American fleet needed to be large enough to sustain losses in combat. “Unlike in World War II, we couldn’t build a destroyer in three months,” he added. “To be ready, we need more than maintenance and training—we need more ships.”

But building more ships will cost time and billions of dollars if that happens. In the meantime, some experts think the US Navy may face its own limitations against a growing Chinese fleet. Erik A. Gartzke, a professor at the University of California San Diego who studies the impact of information on war, said: “The US complaint is, hey, we can no longer operate without unpunished anywhere we want. “The simplest solution to this very complex and costly problem for the US Navy is to stop pretending that it can operate with impunity anywhere in the world. There may be certain areas that are no-go zones.

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