Recently elected new President Xi Jinping visited the South Naval Base on April 9 this year. fleet Sanya, on the island of Hainan, famous for its resorts. The Chinese leader examined the latest PLA Navy ships: type 052C destroyers, type 054A frigates, type 022 missile boats and type 071 landing helicopter docking ship. He also visited the Great March 9 nuclear missile submarine type 094 Jin. In her central post, Xi Jinping allowed television reporters to capture themselves at the periscope’s eyepiece.
This visit added fuel to the fire of discussion in the countries of the West, the Far East and Southeast Asia about the rapidly expanding Chinese expansion into the sea. But if in government and high-ranking military circles they talk about this, as a rule, with sufficient restraint, then there are no limitations in the scientific community and among analysts. How to curb the Chinese military power, including the sea? - This is the main subject of discussion.
Opinions on this subject are quite radical. Thus, the authoritative Anglo-American journal The Journal of Strategic Studies published an article by Shona Mirsky under the very unequivocal headline "Dead Hand": context, possible actions and the need for China's American naval blockade, which caused a noticeable public outcry.
The author considers the naval blockade of the People's Republic of China to be the best way to put pressure on Beijing in order to destroy its economic potential, which will force the Celestial to recognize defeat in the war. And this is now, when the whole world is tensely following the fluctuations in the rate of industrial growth in this country, hoping that it will again become the locomotive of getting out of the global crisis. However, economic calculations do not always coincide with geostrategic - in any case, in time.
Chairman of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping at the eyepiece of the periscope of the SSBN “The Great March 9”.
If the Chinese economy actually begins to slip or worse, it will decline, indeed, in order to solve its economic, social and domestic political problems, Beijing can take up weapon. And it is a lot of it, and every year it becomes more. This is the case with Sean Mirski. He believes that the blockade is possible when “large-scale” hostilities begin between the USA, their allies and the PRC. However, they will not be in the nature of unlimited, that is, nuclear war. But it will not be a local conflict.
Doesn’t it resemble something? Yes, of course, the strategy of flexible response, inspired by US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in the 60 of the last century. His doctrine was initiated by the Caribbean crisis of 1962, which in the United States is referred to as Cuban. Then the world was put on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe, almost turning into the death of both sides. Such a disposition did not suit the military-political leadership of the United States. The flexible response was supposed to guard American interests with reliance on the military pressure of the USSR, the Warsaw Pact countries and their allies outside Europe, but, if possible, not to bring the matter to a nuclear apocalypse. To a certain extent, this doctrine managed to somewhat reduce the intensity of the confrontation between Washington and Moscow. However, the practice of rejecting communism was unsuccessful. In Vietnam, the US and the strategy of flexible response suffered a crushing defeat. As for the use of nuclear weapons, there is no doubt that the party, who was in a desperate situation, would nevertheless resort to it according to the principle “there is no reception against scrap”. Or is it a point of view, unique to the Russian mentality? I'm afraid not.
This is how the Japanese artist sees the battle between the ships of the Naval Self-Defense Forces and the PLA Navy.
Shaun Mirsky, who graduated from the University of Chicago in 2011 and received a bachelor's degree in economics and political science, as well as a master's degree in international relations, now continues his studies at Harvard University and is probably familiar with the Robert McNamara doctrine. He modernized it somewhat and “freezed” it, targeting China.
What is the theory of the sea blockade of the People's Republic of China, Sean Mirski, based on, and what concrete steps, in his opinion, should be taken to implement it? A young American scientist rightly draws attention to the dependence of the Chinese economy on maritime transport. 90% of the country's foreign trade is carried by water transport. The PRC is forced to import about 60% of oil consumed, much of which is transported by tankers. In the ten largest ports in China, more than 80% of containerized cargo is concentrated. That is why a long and even if not 100-percent blockade, according to Shaun Mirsky, will have fatal consequences for the economy of the Middle Kingdom.
In principle, the establishment of such a naval blockade is possible. Mirsky sees her consisting of two rings. External - a distant blockade - will be located behind a chain of island states surrounding China from the east and stretching from Hokkaido in the north to Singapore in the south. These states are either allied to Washington, or gravitating toward America. Therefore, in the conflict, China and the United States will take the side of the latter. In the outer ring, all cargo ships going to and from Chinese ports will be intercepted, screened and detained. This mission will be carried out by surface ships of the US Navy and their allies, who will deploy their formations in areas inaccessible to the Chinese aviation and coastal missile systems.
SSBN type 094 Jin rarely and briefly leave the Sanya naval base.
The inner, “lethal,” as Mirsky calls it, the blockade ring refers to the waters immediately adjacent to the Chinese shores. There will act a law "swamp them all!". This function is assigned to US and Japanese submarines, the number of which in the area can now be brought to 71 units, as well as coast-based aircraft and active mine operations. True, with regard to the latter type of weapon, Shaun Mirsky notes the actual "atrophy" of the capabilities of the US Navy to carry out offensive mine settings and, in particular, the absence of sea mines suitable for use by submarines as of the beginning of the 2013 fiscal year.
It must be noted that the appearance of alien submarines off the coast of the PRC is already worrying Beijing. Rear Admiral of the PLA Navy Yin Chuo said in an interview with China Central Television that there is a need to strengthen the anti-submarine defense forces in the South China Sea due to the growing activity of foreign submarines.
SSGN project 675 (Echo II). Underwater displacement - 5760 t, length - 115,4 m, maximum speed of the underwater stroke - 29 knots, maximum depth of immersion - 300 m, autonomy - 50 days.
Crew - 137 man. In addition to 8 launchers of cruise missiles that were deployed on the 4 in the light hull of each side, the boat had 4 nasal 533-mm torpedo tubes (ammunition - 16 torpedoes) and 2 stern 406-mm TA (ammunition - 4 torpedoes). Total for the Soviet Navy was built 29 such boats.
The anti-Chinese coalition can be quite broad. In recent years, Washington is increasingly “building bridges” with Vietnam. Former adversary today is seen as the closest ally. The Vietnamese Navy has a Molniya missile boat, K-300P Bastion mobile coastal missile systems, whose Yakhont missiles are capable of hitting the Sanya Chinese Navy base on Hainan Island, which was recently visited by Chairman Xi Jinping. In the near future, the Vietnamese fleet will be replenished with six 06361 submarines armed with Club-S cruise missiles designed to attack sea and coastal targets at a range of 300 km.
All this is true. But on the other hand, the Chinese fleet today is the undisputed world leader in increasing combat power. Mass batches of missile boats, frigates, corvettes, non-nuclear submarines and landing ships are being built and put into operation. Chinese specialists apparently succeeded in bringing 052-type destroyers with combat control systems similar to the American Aegis to mind, and in the near future, it seems, the serial assembly of improved 052D destroyers will be deployed in shipyards.
Appeared in the PLA Navy and aircraft carrier - Liaoning, converted from the unfinished Soviet "Varyag". This event in China and beyond is given increased attention, which, they say, testifies to a qualitative leap in the development of the Chinese fleet and to the expansion of its capabilities to gain dominance in the oceans. This agitation clearly does not correspond to the real situation. First, Liaoning will be part of the combat-ready forces no earlier than 2017, that is, relatively soon. Secondly, his air group will include the entire X-NUMX fighter-bomber J-22 - a counterfeit version of the Russian Su-15, which is incomparably small in the number of similar machines available in the fleets of American aircraft carriers. Third, and larger aircraft carriers that are planned to be built for the PLA Navy, it will be difficult, if not possible, to escape to the ocean operational space due to the fact that China, as already noted, is surrounded by a chain of "unsinkable aircraft carriers" - island nations Allied or friendly to the United States, some of which have American air bases.
It seems that the noise in the United States and countries close to them about the Chinese aircraft carriers rises on purpose in order to whet Beijing. So that he continues to invest huge financial and material resources in the construction of ships that are easy to find and destroy.
But the nuclear submarine fleet, which can pose a real threat to the United States, is still the weak link of the PLA Navy. The first generation of Chinese SSBNs and submarines almost never went to sea. And the second - for now, too. Three newest SSBNs like the 094 Jin rarely and briefly leave the Sanya naval base. These submarines have a rather high noise level, the operation of the reactors causes criticism, there is no covert communication system with the coastal command, which prevents the withdrawal of boats to distant patrols. But the most important thing is that an intercontinental ballistic missile Julang-2 (JL-2) with a firing range of up to 7400 km has not yet been fully worked out. In other words, China is still far from creating a truly effective underwater strategic system.
The reasons for the lag are many. And, probably, the tragic incident that happened in the South China Sea 22 January 1983 played a significant role here. On that day, the nuclear submarine K-10 of the 675 project (Echo II - according to NATO classification) under the command of the captain of the 1 rank Valery Medvedev, who was in military service in this water area, came to the point of communication with the coastal command. But the boat arrived a little ahead of time. Above the storm raged. Under the keel - 4500 m. But at the depth of 54 m, where the boat followed, it was not strongly felt. The commander made a decision to conduct hydroacoustic reconnaissance of the area in order to reveal the possible observation of K-10 by the probable enemy. He ordered the circulation to the left, in order to listen to the water space from the aft course corners, where there were dead zones for the hydroacoustic station of the nuclear-powered icebreaker.
The bow of the K-10 after a collision with a Chinese boat.
Here I must say a few words about the submarine of the 675 project. They were called "assassins of aircraft carriers" because they were intended to attack large American surface ships, as well as naval bases. The boats armed X-NUMX with P-8 cruise missiles, including those with nuclear warheads, or P-6Ds - for firing at coastal targets. However, these submarines had significant drawbacks. They could launch missiles only from a surface position, which reduced their secrecy and, consequently, their combat stability. The second drawback is high noise. It was the result of not only the work of the mechanisms, but also the presence in the light housing of the cut-outs of the gas chambers of rocket launchers. As soon as the submarine developed the course, these notches, in which the water was swirling, began to “sing”. That is why American submariners called our submarines "roaring cows."
These flaws in 1970 once nearly led to the death of the K-108 submarine under the command of the captain of the 1 rank Suren Bagdasaryan. His boat, completing the course tasks in Avachinsky Bay, waited for a signal to return to base. The crew, except for the watch, rested. And when the submarine made another turn to the left to listen to the acoustics of the “dead zones”, K-108 received a powerful blow to the lower stern of the starboard. The Soviet submarine Tautog, which followed our submarine, literally drove into the Soviet boat. K-108 began to fall to the depth, and under the keel was more than 2000 m. But the energetic actions of the commander and crew allowed the nuclear-powered vessel to be leveled and the emergency ascent tanks passed through. However, as Baghdasaryan believed, the main role was played by chance. Tautog hit our boat with the fence of its sliding devices in the line of the right shaft, which played the role of a shock absorber and did not allow the K-108 robust hull to punch.
Valery Medvedev, as well as other commanders of the nuclear project 675, was well aware of the dramatic incident with K-108, so he tried to be careful. Acoustics reported that the horizon is clear. And here everyone on board felt a jolt. The blow was not strong, but sensitive. K-10 grappled with some object and moved along with it for some time. Whale? Giant octopus? No, something else, but what? Reports came out of the compartments, that they were examined and there were no comments. The 21.31 boat has surfaced. A typhoon raged above. Solid darkness. On the surface of the seamen K-10 did not see anything. Reported to the incident command. It ordered to follow to the base of Cam Ranh in Vietnam. When inspecting the boat in the bow of her found a strong damage and pieces of foreign metal.
Since no country claimed damage to or destruction of its submarine, the command of the Soviet Navy did not make any report. Two years later, in the Chinese media, there were obituaries on the occasion of the death of a submarine in the South China Sea in 1983, on board of which were leading scientists and designers involved in the development of ballistic missiles for the PLAH Navy SSBNs. Apparently, they were victims of a collision with K-10. Why did the Soviet and Chinese acoustics not hear each other? Probably, a storm raging on the surface interfered with the work of the HAS.
Restoring the school of the dead Chinese scientists and designers involved in the creation of SLBMs, required considerable time. And this circumstance still affects the readiness of the underwater strategic system of the PRC.
DPLRB project 629 (Golf). Underwater displacement - 3553 t, length - 98,8 m, maximum submerged speed - 12,5 node, autonomy - 70 days. Crew - 87 man. Armament: 3 launchers in the fence of retractable devices for BR P-13 or P-21, 4 fore and 2 aft 533-mm torpedo tubes. For the USSR Navy built 21 unit. Two more - for the PLA Navy with launchers for locating the BR P-11 with a range of 150 km.
A diesel-electric rocket boat, which faced the K-10, was of Soviet construction. More precisely, it was assembled under the 629 project in the PRC from components received from the USSR. In China, she received the designation type 6631 and tail number 208. Later in Dalian, they assembled another one-type boat under the number 200. They became the swan song of the “indestructible Sino-Soviet friendship”, which at the beginning of the 60-s of the last century ordered to live long. The PLA Navy used submarines of the 6631 type, which later received the 031 type designation, as stands for ballistic missile test firing. One of them with the 200 tail number is still used to test the JL-2 SLBMs.
Of course, the Chinese leadership is aware of the need to bring the PLA naval submarine strategic forces to the level of the best world standards. And so the PRC Chairman Xi Jinping, during his visit to the Sanya base, visited precisely the SSBN “The Great March 9”, and only examined other ships. According to the American Internet resource Strategy Page, active work is underway to create a third-generation Chinese SSBN such as 096. It will introduce new powerful nuclear reactors, noise-absorbing coatings, modern gas systems, advanced boat control systems and other high-tech components and assemblies. That is, an 096-type boat will become a highly sophisticated nuclear strategic submarine. Some sources claim that its construction has already begun. And it will get into service 24 SLBM JL-3 with a firing range over 10000 km. To track such boats, the US Navy will be forced to send additional ships, submarines and anti-submarine aircraft. There will be no time for the Chinese naval blockade.
DPLRB No. 200 type 031 is still used in the PLA Navy for testing JL-2 ICBMs. On the boat there is one installation for its launch.
And one more important circumstance to which Shawn Mirsky drew attention in his article. According to him, the key political factor, on which the success of the naval blockade depends, is the ability of the United States to achieve Russia's accession to it. Indeed, without this condition, it is ridiculous to talk about isolating China. The Russian Federation is one of the largest suppliers of energy resources to the PRC, and they are transported not by sea, but by pipelines and railways.
And Russia will not be able to take part in the naval blockade of China. For this, she simply does not have ships. It is not by chance that James Holmes, Professor of Strategy at the US Naval College, co-authored the book Red Star Above the Pacific Ocean, devoted to the influence of Alfred Mahan's ideas on naval construction in the PRC (for more, see National Defense Magazine No. XXUMX / 11 ), and the military commentator of the English-language Japanese publication The Diplomat, compiling a list of the five most powerful naval forces in the zone of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, did not include the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Federation. According to his version, the “magnificent five” is represented by the naval forces of the United States, Japan, China, India and South Korea. And how could it be otherwise, when for the entire post-Soviet era, that is, for 2011 of the year, the Pacific Fleet did not receive a single surface combat ship! And the submarine forces were replenished with three submarines of the 22A project and two 949 projects. All of them were laid in Soviet times and were only completed at the beginning of the 971s of the last century. Today, these boats need modernization. The three SSBNs of the 90BDR project have long expired. And although “George the Victorious” last year “shook the olden time” and successfully shot out the ICBM P-667P, these SSBNs need urgent replacement. (For comparison: during the same period, the naval forces of Japan, China and South Korea were updated by more than 29%).
The Russian fleet has other concerns. The deployment by the United States of a global missile defense system based on its naval component requires Russia to take steps to neutralize the threat to its strategic forces, including the NSNF, as well as measures to create counter-threats to the US territory, primarily from the oceanic directions.
Moscow, of course, is also worried about pumping up the military muscles of the PRC, including the deployment of the best-trained and well-armed Chinese units and formations, including armored ones, near the border of the two countries. Where there is nothing for our country to defend itself with.
Large anti-submarine ship "Admiral Levchenko" during joint maneuvers with the US Navy Hue City missile cruiser.
But China has its Achilles heel. Its one and a half billion population lives in half of the country's territory (mainly in the coastal zone and river valleys), because the second half is practically not habitable. And this creates ideal conditions for nuclear strikes at several of the most vulnerable points. In the event of the outbreak of war, the PRC will suffer terrible losses incomparable to anything else. And in Beijing, even Maoist, they always understood it, they understand it now.
Undoubtedly, the problem of the growing military power of China remains. And concerted steps to curb it must be sought, but on a mutually acceptable basis. In the meantime, it turns out that Washington and Moscow are trying to play the Chinese card with profit for themselves, and Beijing, skillfully using the contradictions between the United States and Russia and observing their interest, clearly gains the upper hand in this game. However, there may be progress. According to foreign media reports, China is clearly annoyed by the results of the recent visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Russia. And not so much because the talks focused on the possibility of concluding a peace treaty between the two countries, as well as on an ambitious Russian-Japanese program for the development of joint energy projects. The main cause of concern is seen in the attempt to create Tokyo, and therefore Washington, the “geopolitical ring” around the PRC, since only Russia can change the unstable strategic balance of power in Asia.