China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. NavyCapabilities — Background and Issues for Congress
Concern has grown in Congress and elsewhere about China’s militarymodernization. The topic is an increasing factor in discussions over future requiredU.S. Navy capabilities. The issue for Congress addressed in this report is: Howshould China’s military modernization be factored into decisions about U.S. Navyprograms?Several elements of China’s military modernization have potential implicationsfor future required U.S. Navy capabilities. These include theater-range ballisticmissiles (TBMs), land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs), anti-ship cruise missiles(ASCMs), surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), land-based aircraft, submarines, surfacecombatants, amphibious ships, naval mines, nuclear weapons, and possibly high-power microwave (HPM) devices. China’s naval limitations or weaknesses includecapabilities for operating in waters more distant from China, joint operations, C4ISR(command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, andreconnaissance), long-range surveillance and targeting systems, anti-air warfare(AAW), antisubmarine warfare (ASW), mine countermeasures (MCM), and logistics.Observers believe a near-term focus of China’s military modernization is to fielda force that can succeed in a short-duration conflict with Taiwan and act as an anti-access force to deter U.S. intervention or delay the arrival of U.S. forces, particularlynaval and air forces, in such a conflict. Some analysts speculate that China mayattain (or believe that it has attained) a capable maritime anti-access force, orelements of it, by about 2010. Other observers believe this will happen later.Potential broader or longer-term goals of China’s naval modernization includeasserting China’s regional military leadership and protecting China’s maritimeterritorial, economic, and energy interests.China’s naval modernization has potential implications for required U.S. Navycapabilities in terms of preparing for a conflict in the Taiwan Strait area, maintainingU.S. Navy presence and military influence in the Western Pacific, and counteringChinese ballistic missile submarines. Preparing for a conflict in the Taiwan Straitarea could place a premium on the following: on-station or early-arriving Navyforces, capabilities for defeating China’s maritime anti-access forces, and capabilitiesfor operating in an environment that could be characterized by information warfareand possibly electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and the use of nuclear weapons.Certain options are available for improving U.S. Navy capabilities by 2010;additional options, particularly in shipbuilding, can improve U.S. Navy capabilitiesin subsequent years. China’s naval modernization raises potential issues forCongress concerning the role of China in Department of Defense (DOD) and Navyplanning; the size of the Navy; the Pacific Fleet’s share of the Navy; forwardhomeporting of Navy ships in the Western Pacific; the number of aircraft carriers,submarines, and ASW-capable platforms; Navy missile defense, air-warfare, AAW,ASW, and mine warfare programs; Navy computer network security; and EMPhardening of Navy systems. This report will be updated as events warrant.