China is building a powerful navy to take on the US in the Pacific - Here's what their arsenal looks like
- China's naval force is growing at an incredible rate, not just in size but also in combat capability. It's reportedly growing faster than any other great power navy.
- The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy is fielding a variety of new warships and submarines, as well as new weapons, to tip the scales in its favor in the region.
- Here are some of the vessels the PLAN is adding to its expanding arsenal.
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The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy is one of the largest naval forces in the world, and it continues to grow. More importantly, though, China is rapidly building and fielding increasingly capable naval vessels, weapons that could tip the scales in the US-dominated Pacific.
The Chinese PLAN has probably benefitted the most from the country's major military modernization plan, the goal of which is to transform the Chinese armed services into a world-class fighting force able to defeat another great power.In the mid-1990s, China's naval forces were weak, consisting of an almost entirely defenseless collection of just under 60 destroyers and frigates and 80 attack submarines, most of which were old diesel-electric Soviet models. The Chinese navy also had a few nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, but they were extremely noisy, RAND Corp. revealed in a report on the development of the PLAN over the past few decades.
But the nature of China's navy is changing, both in terms of size and capability as the PLAN equips its ever-expanding fleet with more advanced weapons and sensors.
China has been churning ships out at an incredible rate. In 2016 and 2017, China commissioned 18 and 14 ships respectively. (Some other observers have put that number even higher). The US Navy commissioned only five and eight ships during those years. As of last year, China had more than 300 ships, far more than the US Navy. The Center for Strategic and International Studies predicts that China could have as many as 430 surface ships and 100 submarines within the next 15 years, if not sooner.
Here is what China has been and is currently adding to its naval arsenal, according to the Pentagon and Reuters, citing analysts.