China wants to takeover US Military Power - Control Japan & Philippines chain

U.S. CVN 78 Aircraft Carrier - USS Gerald R. Ford - First new class of nuclear-powered carriers. The Ship is designed to carry drones and launched figter planes more quickly.

The USS Gerald R. Ford was supposed to help secure another half century of American naval supremacy. The hulking aircraft carrier taking shape in a dry dock in Newport News, Va., is designed to carry a crew of 4,660 and a formidable arsenal of aircraft and weapons.

But an unforeseen problem cropped up between blueprint and expected delivery in 2015: China is building a new class of ballistic missiles designed to arc through the stratosphere and explode onto the deck of a U.S. carrier, killing sailors and crippling its flight deck.

Since 1945, the U.S. has ruled the waters of the western Pacific, thanks in large part to a fleet of 97,000-ton carriers—each one "4.5 acres of mobile, sovereign U.S. territory," as the Navy puts it. For nearly all of those years, China had little choice but to watch American vessels ply the waters off its coast with impunity.

Now China is engaged in a major military buildup. Part of its plan is to force U.S. carriers to stay farther away from its shores, Chinese military analysts say. So the U.S. is adjusting its own game plan. Without either nation saying so, both are quietly engaged in a tit-for-tat military-technology race. At stake is the balance of power in a corner of the seas that its growing rapidly in importance.

Pentagon officials are reluctant to talk publicly about potential conflict with China. Unlike the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Beijing isn't an explicit enemy. During a visit to China last month, Michele Flournoy, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, told a top general in the People's Liberation Army that "the U.S. does not seek to contain China," and that "we do not view China as an adversary," she recalled in a later briefing.

Nevertheless, U.S. military officials often talk about preparing for a conflict in the Pacific—without mentioning who they might be fighting. The situation resembles a Harry Potter novel in which the characters refuse to utter the name of their adversary, says Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a think tank with close ties to the Pentagon. "You can't say China's a threat," he says. "You can't say China's a competitor."

China's state media has said its new missile, called the DF-21D, was built to strike a moving ship up to about 1,700 miles away. U.S. defense analysts say the missile is designed to come in at an angle too high for U.S. defenses against sea-skimming cruise missiles and too low for defenses against other ballistic missiles.

Even if U.S. systems were able to shoot down one or two, some experts say, China could overwhelm the defenses by targeting a carrier with several missiles at the same time.

As such, the new missile—China says it isn't currently deployed—could push U.S. carriers farther from Chinese shores, making it more difficult for American fighter jets to penetrate its airspace or to establish air superiority in a conflict near China's borders.

In response, the Navy is developing pilotless, long-range drone aircraft that could take off from aircraft carriers far out at sea and remain aloft longer than a human pilot could do safely. In addition, the Air Force wants a fleet of pilotless bombers capable of cruising over vast stretches of the Pacific.

The gamesmanship extends into cyberspace. U.S. officials worry that, in the event of a conflict, China would try to attack the satellite networks that control drones, as well as military networks within the U.S. The outcome of any conflict, they believe, could turn in part on who can jam the other's electronics or hack their computer networks more quickly and effectively.

Throughout history, control of the seas has been a prerequisite for any country that wants to be considered a world power. China's military buildup has included a significant naval expansion. China now has 29 submarines armed with antiship cruise missiles, compared with just eight in 2002, according to Rand Corp., another think tank with ties to the military. In August, China conducted a sea trial of its first aircraft carrier—a vessel that isn't yet fully operational.

At one time, military planners saw Taiwan as the main point of potential friction between China and the U.S. Today, there are more possible flash points. Tensions have grown between Japan and China over islands each nation claims in the East China Sea. Large quantities of oil and gas are believed to lie under the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), and China, Vietnam, the Philippines and other nations have been asserting conflicting territorial claims on it. Last year, Vietnam claimed China had harassed one of its research vessels, and China demanded that Vietnam halt oil-exploration activities in disputed waters. The Philippines protested also against china for firing the Filipino fishermen in the waters under the Philippines Territory, China also harassed the PNOC – Philippines State Owned Exploration vessel conducting Survey in the Philippines Economic Zone and inside Philippines territory but china dismissed the protest of the Philippines and replied "We owned everything".

A few years ago, the U.S. military might have responded to any flare-up by sending one or more of its 11 aircraft carriers to calm allies and deter Beijing. Now, the People's Liberation Army, in additional to the missiles it has under development, has submarines capable of attacking the most visible instrument of U.S. military power.

"This is a rapidly emerging development," says Eric Heginbotham, who specializes in East Asian security at Rand. "As late as 1995 or 2000, the threat to carriers was really minimal. Now, it is fairly significant. There is a whole complex of new threats emerging."

Beijing's interest in developing anticarrier missiles is believed to date to the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1996. The Chinese government, hoping to dissuade voters in Taiwan from re-electing a president considered pro-independence, conducted a series of missile tests, firing weapons into the waters off the island. President Bill Clinton sent two carrier battle groups, signaling that Washington was ready to defend Taiwan—a strategic setback for China.

The Chinese military embarked on a military modernization effort designed to blunt U.S. power in the Pacific by developing what U.S. military strategists dubbed "anti-access, area denial" technologies.

"Warfare is about anti-access," said Adm. Gary Roughead, the recently retired U.S. chief of naval operations, last year. "You could go back and look at the Pacific campaigns in World War II, [when] the Japanese were trying to deny us access into the western Pacific."

In 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao unveiled a new military doctrine calling for the armed forces to undertake "new historic missions" to safeguard China's "national interests." Chinese military officers and experts said those interests included securing international shipping lanes and access to foreign oil and safeguarding Chinese citizens working overseas.

At first, China's buildup was slow. Then some headline-grabbing advances set off alarms in Washington. In a 2007 test, China shot down one of its older weather satellites, demonstrating its ability to potentially destroy U.S. military satellites that enable warships and aircraft to communicate and to target bases on the Chinese mainland.

The Pentagon responded with a largely classified effort to protect U.S. satellites from weapons such as missiles or lasers. A year after China's antisatellite test, the U.S. demonstrated its own capabilities by blowing up a dead spy satellite with a modified ballistic-missile interceptor.

Last year, the arms race accelerated. In January, just hours before then U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat down with Chinese President Hu to mend frayed relations; China conducted the first test flight of a new, radar-evading fighter jet. The plane, called the J-20, might allow China to launch air attacks much farther afield—possibly as far as U.S. military bases in Japan and Guam.

The aircraft carrier China launched in August was built from a hull bought from Ukraine. The Pentagon expects China to begin working on its own version, which could become operational after 2015—not long after the USS Gerald R. Ford enters service.

American military planners are even more worried about the modernization of China's submarine fleet. The newer vessels can stay submerged longer and operate more quietly than China's earlier versions. In 2006, a Chinese sub appeared in the midst of a group of American ships, undetected until it rose to the surface.

Sizing up China's electronic-warfare capabilities is more difficult. China has invested heavily in cybertechnologies, and U.S. defense officials have said Chinese hackers, potentially working with some state support, have attacked American defense networks. China has repeatedly denied any state involvement.

China's technological advances have been accompanied by a shift in rhetoric by parts of its military. Hawkish Chinese military officers and analysts have long accused the U.S. of trying to contain China within the "first island chain" that includes Japan and the Philippines, both of which have mutual defense treaties with the U.S., and Taiwan, which the U.S. is bound by law to help defend. They now talk about pushing the U.S. back as far as Hawaii and enabling China's navy to operate freely in the western Pacific, the Indian Ocean and beyond.

"The U.S. has four major allies within the first island chain, and is trying to starve the Chinese dragon into a Chinese worm," Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan, one of China's most outspoken military commentators, told a conference in September.

China's beefed up military still is a long way from having the muscle to defeat the U.S. Navy head-to-head. For now, U.S. officials say, the Chinese strategy is to delay the arrival of U.S. military forces long enough to take control of contested islands or waters.

Publicly, Pentagon leaders such as Mr. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have said the U.S. would like to cultivate closer military-to-military ties with China.

Privately, China has been the focus of planning. In 2008, the U.S. military held a series of war games, called Pacific Vision, which tested its ability to counter a "near-peer competitor" in the Pacific. That phrase is widely understood within the military to be shorthand for China.

"My whole impetus was to look at the whole western Pacific," says retired Air Force Gen. Carrol "Howie" Chandler, who helped conduct the war games. "And it was no secret that the Chinese were making investments to overcome our advantages in the Pacific."

Those games tested the ability of the U.S. to exercise air power in the region, both from land bases and from aircraft carriers. People familiar with the exercises say they informed strategic thinking about potential conflict with China. A formal game plan, called AirSea Battle, now is in the works to develop better ways to fight in the Pacific and to counter China's new weapons, Pentagon officials say.

The Navy is developing new weapons for its aircraft carriers and new aircraft to fly off them. On the new Ford carrier, the catapult that launches jets off the deck will be electromagnetic, not steam-powered, allowing for quicker takeoffs.

The carrier-capable drones under development, which will allow U.S. carriers to be effective when farther offshore, are considered a breakthrough. Rear Adm. William Shannon, who heads the Navy's office for unmanned aircraft and strike weapons, compared the drone's debut flight last year to a pioneering flight by Eugene Ely, who made the first successful landing on a naval vessel in 1911. "I look at this demonstration flight…as ushering us into the second 100 years of naval aviation," he said.

The Air Force wants a longer-range bomber for use over the Pacific. Navy and Air Force fighter jets have relatively short ranges. Without midair refueling, today's carrier planes have an effective range of about 575 miles.

China's subs, fighter planes and guided missiles will likely force carriers to stay farther than that from its coast, U.S. military strategists say.

"The ability to operate from long distances will be fundamental to our future strategy in the Pacific," says Andrew Hoehn, a vice president at Rand. "You have to have a long-range bomber. In terms of Air Force priorities, I cannot think of a larger one."

The U.S. also is considering new land bases to disperse its forces throughout the region. President Barack Obama recently announced the U.S. would use new bases in Australia, including a major port in Darwin. Many of the bases aren't expected to have a permanent American presence, but in the event of a conflict, the U.S. would be able to base aircraft there.

In light of China's military advances and shrinking U.S. defense budgets, some U.S. military officers have begun wondering whether the time has come to rethink the nation's strategic reliance on aircraft carriers like the USS Ford. A successful attack on a carrier could jeopardize the lives of as many as 5,000 sailors—more than all the troops killed in action in Iraq.

"The Gerald R. Ford is just the first of her class," wrote Navy Captain Henry Hendrix and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Noel Williams in an article in the naval journal Proceedings last year. "She should also be the last."

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