Author Topic: The China Thread  (Read 143303 times)

The Minsky Moment

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2055 on: October 15, 2021, 06:24:33 pm »
I think that China's new hardware is impressive in both capabilities and numbers, but I question whether they have had it long enough to work out the doctrine, training, and maintenance to make it fully effective.  The real question is whether or not the Chinese leadership thinks that they are powerful enough to win against the US-led alliance.  The USSR vastly over-estimated the effectiveness of their military when they allied with Hitler and found out how wrong they were the hard way.

It's also been a very long time since there has been a great power maritime confrontation; there has to be a some uncertainty about exactly how it plays out and how new techs and capabilities like anti-ship missiles will really work.  National militaries game out scenarios and test capabilities through exercises but history suggests real shooting wars don't always play out quite as expected.
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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2056 on: October 15, 2021, 06:29:10 pm »
Good point Joan.  The same applies to any future air war.

Or even ground war.  I don't think many people saw Armenia-Azerbaijan playing out exactly as it did.

The Minsky Moment

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2057 on: October 15, 2021, 06:38:21 pm »
You can say a lot of things about Xi but I don't think he's a wild gambler.  I don't think he would willfully roll the dice on a war in the Pacific with the US.  But I do see him using escalation to probe and test US resolve and it isn't always possible to control that process.
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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2058 on: October 15, 2021, 07:14:46 pm »
I think that China's new hardware is impressive in both capabilities and numbers, but I question whether they have had it long enough to work out the doctrine, training, and maintenance to make it fully effective.  The real question is whether or not the Chinese leadership thinks that they are powerful enough to win against the US-led alliance.  The USSR vastly over-estimated the effectiveness of their military when they allied with Hitler and found out how wrong they were the hard way.

It's also been a very long time since there has been a great power maritime confrontation; there has to be a some uncertainty about exactly how it plays out and how new techs and capabilities like anti-ship missiles will really work.  National militaries game out scenarios and test capabilities through exercises but history suggests real shooting wars don't always play out quite as expected.

Anti-ship missiles are not a new tech.  The US and its allies have both used them and been attacked by them, and so know far more about how such attacks work than the Chinese.

But that wasn't my point.  My point was not about the scenarios testing strategy, it was about the fact that the Chinese military has not had these new capabilities for long enough to know how to best use them, train others to use them, and properly maintain them.  They are in the position of, say, the Great Power militaries fighting WW1, but against an enemy that has been using WW1 tech for a decade.  Beattie's battlecruisers blew up at Jutland because the RN hadn't had enough experience in operating them to recognize the danger of the operating procedures they were using.
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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2059 on: October 15, 2021, 10:21:03 pm »
ASBMs not cruise missiles
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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2060 on: October 15, 2021, 10:53:26 pm »
ASBMs not cruise missiles

Those won't become real threats in the immediate future.  They are another example of a technology that hasn't matured to the point that they have a robust targeting system and a doctrine that would allow them to be effectively used.  Though there is a danger that the PRC will begin to believe its own propaganda and think that they've solved the problem of how to defeat a CVBG.
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Jacob

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2061 on: October 15, 2021, 11:11:46 pm »
Thanks for the perspectives grumbler and Minsky. Good food for thought.

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2062 on: October 16, 2021, 01:59:31 pm »
Beattie's battlecruisers blew up at Jutland because the RN hadn't had enough experience in operating them to recognize the danger of the operating procedures they were using.

Total aside to the thread subject, but I forgot to ask your views on this in the thread dedicated to it....

I wonder if the "story" of the BCs is as much driven by how the German BCs did not blown up, as the Brits did.

They got absolutely pummeled as well, but they didn't just blow up and sink.

I've read that was the result of

A) Luck. One of the German BCs was on the verge of a catastrophic explosion and some quick action at the very last moment saved it. No quick action, or the guy doing it was a bit more injured, and its likely at least on the German BCs would have had a catastrophic result as well.
B) The Germans had smaller guns, but much better armor and overall survivability. The Brits counted on heavier guns and better gunnery to take out the enemy BCs before they were badly damaged. Turns out, in this case, better armor won out over bigger/better guns
C) In regards to B, it would seem that the British ammunition was actually flawed? The fuses did not work right, and their heavier guns shells simply exploded on initial contact, causing a lot of external but superficial (to the integrity of the ship anyway) damage. So maybe this is actually kind of part of B - maybe B would have worked had the guns actually performed as expected?
D) The engagement itself. Beatty had a job to do, to pull in the HSF into range of the GF, and he did it, but that meant subjecting his ships to fire far longer then they were designed.

Any thoughts on those? Some of them, all of them, some more then others?
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Berkut

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2063 on: October 16, 2021, 02:02:41 pm »
Thanks for the perspectives grumbler and Minsky. Good food for thought.

I think we've touched on this before.

The concern here is at least as much about the fear of war as the actual outcome of that war.

I am not worried about a shooting war with China so much because I am afraid we might lose, as I think the consequences of the war itself are going to be horrific, even if the "good guys" win.

So I don't find analysis of the actual capabilities, even when that analysis comes down on the side of the good guys, all that encouraging.

The number of examples of wars started by an objectively weaker, and in hindsight actually doomed, power is not trivial, and in fact both of the really bad wars were "started" by the sides that were objectively weaker.
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Jacob

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2064 on: October 16, 2021, 02:28:09 pm »
Thanks for the perspectives grumbler and Minsky. Good food for thought.

I think we've touched on this before.

The concern here is at least as much about the fear of war as the actual outcome of that war.

I am not worried about a shooting war with China so much because I am afraid we might lose, as I think the consequences of the war itself are going to be horrific, even if the "good guys" win.

Yup.

If it was a strategy game, I'd be tempted to flip the switch to resolve the tension; probably at what my analysis suggested is the optimal point in terms of relative strength. But in reality there are lives and welfare of hundreds of millions of people on the line so I'm very much against pulling any triggers.

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So I don't find analysis of the actual capabilities, even when that analysis comes down on the side of the good guys, all that encouraging.

The number of examples of wars started by an objectively weaker, and in hindsight actually doomed, power is not trivial, and in fact both of the really bad wars were "started" by the sides that were objectively weaker.

Yeah which brings it back to the arguments in the article I shared. It says that China was on a trajectory of increasing power and lessening the gap to the US, but now that trajectory looks is slowing down and may potentially reverse. The article postulates that that moment is a much greater risk as China may be inclined to strike "before it's too late" so to speak.

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2065 on: October 16, 2021, 03:19:09 pm »
I think the big danger is that internal economics and politics will eventually get so bad that Xi will consider escalation of tensions (which then he may not be able to control) or even war to he his only way to save his power. That lone of thinking had already caused at least one world wars.

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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2066 on: October 16, 2021, 05:11:58 pm »
Total aside to the thread subject, but I forgot to ask your views on this in the thread dedicated to it....

I wonder if the "story" of the BCs is as much driven by how the German BCs did not blown up, as the Brits did.

That, and the myth that the RN battlecruiser blew up because of their thin belt armor.  That was Beatty's position, and he had the authority to push his own agenda, thereby disguising the fact that his own orders doomed at least two of the three BCs lost.

Quote
They got absolutely pummeled as well, but they didn't just blow up and sink.

I've read that was the result of

A) Luck. One of the German BCs was on the verge of a catastrophic explosion and some quick action at the very last moment saved it. No quick action, or the guy doing it was a bit more injured, and its likely at least on the German BCs would have had a catastrophic result as well.
B) The Germans had smaller guns, but much better armor and overall survivability. The Brits counted on heavier guns and better gunnery to take out the enemy BCs before they were badly damaged. Turns out, in this case, better armor won out over bigger/better guns
C) In regards to B, it would seem that the British ammunition was actually flawed? The fuses did not work right, and their heavier guns shells simply exploded on initial contact, causing a lot of external but superficial (to the integrity of the ship anyway) damage. So maybe this is actually kind of part of B - maybe B would have worked had the guns actually performed as expected?
D) The engagement itself. Beatty had a job to do, to pull in the HSF into range of the GF, and he did it, but that meant subjecting his ships to fire far longer then they were designed.

Any thoughts on those? Some of them, all of them, some more then others?

A) The German BC that almost had a "magazine explosion" was the Seydlitz at the battle of Dogger Bank.  Instead, it had a propellant fire that took out both after turrets when the magazines were flooded.  The Germans realized that the flaw had been excessive accumulation of ready powder charges, and changed procedures after the battle to reduce the flow of charges to the rate at which they were used.  The British did the opposite, as Beatty had concluded that only increasing his ships rate of fire would allow them to defeat the German First Scouting Group before the Germans could get away.  Their slowest ships were several knots faster than his slowest ships, and if he left his slowest ships behind they would outnumber him.  This would come back to haunt the British at Jutland, as three ships (and almost a another, with Beatty aboard) were lost to turret hits that travelled down the excess powder accumulation and into the magazines.

 B) The German battlecruiser designs were derived from their battleship designs, not armored cruiser designs like the British ones.  They thus had a lot more compartmentalization, which increased survivability at the cost of habitability and a bit of range.  In addition, they had effective shells and their powder came in cases, not bags.  The latter took much more effort to burn, and, with magazine venting (again, the British didn't have) meant that their magazines were much less a danger to the ship.  They'd have fires, not explosions.  Plus, of course, much better armor (though it wasn't lack of armor that doomed the British battlecruisers).

C)  Yes, in a situation weirdly like the US WW2 torpedo fiasco, the British discovered too late that their Cordite B shell charges were actually detonating on contact with German armor (due to the compression of the shell as it hit the armor) rather than detonating when the fuse went off.  By 1918, they had replaced their entire stock of shells with the Greenboy shell, which used the much less volatile Cordite D.  The Germans would likely have been far worse hurt had the British shells performed as advertised.  British gunnery was as good as German, and they had a lot more guns.

D)  Yes, sort of.  Remember that Invincible was not with Beatty, but with Jellicoe, and it also suffered the turret-hit-travels-to-magazine catastrophe.  Beatty lost the two ships he lost quite early in the action (Indefatigable fourteen minutes in and Queen Mary 42 minutes in).  The whole action until the Grand Fleet arrived last about two-and-one-half hours.  You could certainly argue that the early British battlecruisers were not designed to be used the way Beatty had to use them (they were, after all, designed to fight nothing larger than a cruiser and were initially called "Dreadnought Armored Cruisers").  That they were misused was largely a factor of the decision to call them (as well as the better-armored "Cats") "battlecruisers," which allowed the RN to completely fool itself as to the adequacy of its battlecruiser numbers.  Beatty took three battlecruisers and six dreadnought armored cruisers to hunt the five German battlecruisers, for the most part, and was probably lucky that he never found them.  At Jutland he was fortunate to have three battlecruisers three dreadnought armored cruisers, and four fast battleships.
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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2067 on: October 16, 2021, 07:12:50 pm »
Four battlecruisers, 2 dreadnought armoured cruisers,  and 4 fast battleships.

Lion, Princess Royal,  Queen Mary, Tiger.

Indefatigable, New Zealand.

Warspite, Valiant, Barham, Malaya.

I also thought that the prevailing theory was that while Indefatigable and Invincible succumbed to turret hits and inadequate flash protection, Queen Mary was unlucky enough to take a direct hit to a magazine.
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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2068 on: October 16, 2021, 07:54:17 pm »
Four battlecruisers, 2 dreadnought armoured cruisers,  and 4 fast battleships.

Lion, Princess Royal,  Queen Mary, Tiger.

Indefatigable, New Zealand.

Warspite, Valiant, Barham, Malaya.

Correct.

Quote
I also thought that the prevailing theory was that while Indefatigable and Invincible succumbed to turret hits and inadequate flash protection, Queen Mary was unlucky enough to take a direct hit to a magazine.

We don't know because the blast destroyed any evidence, but the Derflinger's shell shouldn't have been able to penetrate the belt at that target angle and in any case shouldn't have had enough of an angle to reach the magazine.  Range was about 13,000m.  Warfare is random, though.
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Re: The China Thread
« Reply #2069 on: October 16, 2021, 11:10:08 pm »
DOOM

https://www.ft.com/content/ba0a3cde-719b-4040-93cb-a486e1f843fb

Quote
   China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile
Launch in August of nuclear-capable rocket that circled the globe took US intelligence by surprise

China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.

Five people familiar with the test said the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew through low-orbit space before cruising down towards its target.

The missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence. But two said the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised.

The test has raised new questions about why the US often underestimated China’s military modernisation.

“We have no idea how they did this,” said a fourth person.

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The US, Russia and China are all developing hypersonic weapons, including glide vehicles that are launched into space on a rocket but orbit the earth under their own momentum. They fly at five times the speed of sound, slower than a ballistic missile. But they do not follow the fixed parabolic trajectory of a ballistic missile and are manoeuvrable, making them harder to track.

Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese nuclear weapons policy who was unaware of the test, said a hypersonic glide vehicle armed with a nuclear warhead could help China “negate” US missile defence systems which are designed to destroy incoming ballistic missiles.

“Hypersonic glide vehicles . . . fly at lower trajectories and can manoeuvre in flight, which makes them hard to track and destroy,” said Fravel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Fravel added that it would be “destabilising” if China fully developed and deployed such a weapon, but he cautioned that a test did not necessarily mean that Beijing would deploy the capability.

Mounting concern about China’s nuclear capabilities comes as Beijing continues to build up its conventional military forces and engages in increasingly assertive military activity near Taiwan.

Tensions between the US and China have risen as the Biden administration has taken a tough tack on Beijing, which has accused Washington of being overly hostile.

US military officials in recent months have warned about China’s growing nuclear capabilities, particularly after the release of satellite imagery that showed it was building more than 200 intercontinental missile silos. China is not bound by any arms-control deals and has been unwilling to engage the US in talks about its nuclear arsenal and policy.

Last month, Frank Kendall, US air force secretary, hinted that Beijing was developing a new weapon. He said China had made huge advances, including the “potential for global strikes . . . from space”. He declined to provide details, but suggested that China was developing something akin to the “Fractional Orbital Bombardment System” that the USSR deployed for part of the Cold War, before abandoning it.

“If you use that kind of an approach, you don’t have to use a traditional ICBM trajectory. It’s a way to avoid defences and missile warning systems,” said Kendall.

In August, General Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command, told a conference that China had “recently demonstrated very advanced hypersonic glide vehicle capabilities”. He warned that the Chinese capability would “provide significant challenges to my Norad capability to provide threat warning and attack assessment”.

Two of the people familiar with the Chinese test said the weapon could, in theory, fly over the South Pole. That would pose a big challenge for the US military because its missiles defence systems are focused on the northern polar route.

The revelation comes as the Biden administration undertakes the Nuclear Posture Review, an analysis of policy and capabilities mandated by Congress that has pitted arms-control advocates against those who believe the US must do more to modernise its nuclear arsenal because of China.

The Pentagon did not comment on the report but expressed concern about China. “We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond,” said John Kirby, spokesperson. “That is one reason why we hold China as our number one pacing challenge.”

The Chinese embassy declined to comment on the test, but Liu Pengyu, spokesperson, said China always pursued a military policy that was “defensive in nature” and its military development did not target any country.

“We don’t have a global strategy and plans of military operations like the US does. And we are not at all interested in having an arms race with other countries,” Liu said. “In contrast, the US has in recent years been fabricating excuses like ‘the China threat’ to justify its arms expansion and development of hypersonic weapons. This has directly intensified arms race in this category and severely undermined global strategic stability.”

One Asian national security official said the Chinese military conducted the test in August. China generally announces the launch of Long March rockets — the type used to launch the hypersonic glide vehicle into orbit — but it conspicuously concealed the August launch.

The security official, and another Chinese security expert close to the People’s Liberation Army, said the weapon was being developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics. CAAA is a research institute under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the main state-owned firm that makes missile systems and rockets for China’s space programme. Both sources said the hypersonic glide vehicle was launched on a Long March rocket, which is used for the space programme.

The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, which oversees launches, on July 19 said on an official social media account that it had launched a Long March 2C rocket, which it added was the 77th launch of that rocket. On August 24, it announced that it had conducted a 79th flight. But there was no announcement of a 78th launch, which sparked speculation among observers of its space programme about a secret launch. CAAA did not respond to requests for comment.

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