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China’s fleet advancing more quickly than anticipated

February 6, 2014

According to a new assessment, China is developing the ability to project naval power far away from its shores much more rapidly than earlier intelligence analysis had projected.

The Office of Naval Intelligence issued an assessment on the Chinese navy as part of testimony to the U.S. China Economic and Security Review. ONI leaders found that China’s navy has evolved from a littoral force to one that is capable of meeting a wide range of missions to include being “increasingly capable of striking targets hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland.” . . .The report explains that more than 50 naval ships were “laid down, launched or commissioned” in 2013 and a similar number is planned for 2014.

Among the newer ships in the the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) are a number of nuclear armed subs that will be able to hit either Alaska or Hawaii from Chinese home waters.  Should they sortie into the western Pacific, they would be able to hit the Western US mainland.  This capability will be operational this year.

Ranges for JL2 missiles from various launch points

Ranges for JL2 missiles from various launch points

Earlier this week, US National Intelligence Director James Clapper said that China’s military build up and assertive foreign policy is driven by a “sense of destiny” and that Chinese leaders believe that their claims over nearly the whole of the South and East China Seas are historically based.   Clapper did not say, but we can easily infer, that China has no intention of backing down from these claims and its military buildup will be used to enforce them, either by force or by intimidation.

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