The article holds that although the output of Chinas defense industry is considerable, new equipment only accounts for a small part of the total inventory every year, and military equipment usually has to serve for 20 to 40 years. Therefore, analysts need to keep track of how China treats existing equipment. After all, Chinas increasingly intensive and comprehensive military modernization over the past 20 years shows that the PLA does not only focus on loading as many equipment as possible, but also on loading as many as possible of the latest equipment. It attaches great importance to resources, purchases new equipment when necessary, and upgrades old existing systems to make full use of them. In the naval and aviation sectors, this includes upgrading existing equipment, which, though less noticeable, is of great importance to Chinas military strength.
Upgrading of existing warships
The article said that over the past 10 years, Chinas shipyards have not only produced a large number of new warships, but also introduced new designs. For example, since 2010, the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Navy has installed three destroyers with better and better performance. Despite the astonishing speed of production, the modernization of such a large fleet in China is a decades-long process, and its end heralds the first wave of modern warships to be replaced. During this period, when confronted with enemies, the Chinese Navy will use both very modern and relatively old-fashioned warships in combat. Therefore, the scope and effect of upgrading existing ships is an important but not fully explored part of assessing the capability of the Chinese navy. Fortunately for analysts, photographs of a single warship are easier to obtain than those of a single aircraft, and significant improvements in warship capabilities are usually visible.
The picture shows the Chinese Navys 052 destroyer.
Since 2011, just as Chinas shipyard production is about to reach the current high-density stage, China has begun to upgrade some of its existing warships. The first is two 052 destroyers, the first modern destroyers built in China. At the time of the upgrade, the youngest 052 was 17 years old, that is to say, it was a mid-aged upgrade. It adds a new air defense system, which improves the ability to withstand cruise missiles and reduces the need for manpower. In order to improve the detection ability of air targets, it is equipped with 517M radar. In order to facilitate more remote deployment, it also installed a satellite communication system (SATCOM). These upgrades do not require significant structural changes like the use of a stronger vertical launch system (VLS) to replace the Red Flag-7 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system with limited capabilities. These changes are visible, but if changes are made to the internal system, they cannot be seen from the image. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to infer that the operational management system (CMS) has been modified to integrate new sensors and weapons.
Generally speaking, the upgraded 052 destroyer is not very impressive. However, in many ways, this is to a large extent a relatively obsolete function when they are built. Old and outdated warships are difficult to upgrade in an all-round way, and the cost is hardly worth it, especially considering that they are now producing much more advanced warships. In other cases, however, China seems to have judged the cost and complexity of upgrading small warships worthwhile and invested in more comprehensive upgrades.
In 2014, China began upgrading 4 of the oldest 2 Modern Russian destroyers. Although they are very powerful compared with the Chinese fleet around 2000, there is a huge gap between their capabilities and those of the latest Chinese warships. These upgrades help to solve such defects in the latter half of their service. Compared with the improvement of the destroyer type 052, the modern class destroyer has a much better upgrade effect. It is reported that 48 Russian vertical launching system units of Russian Still surface-to-air missiles have been replaced by 32 Chinese vertical launching system units. Despite the decline, the PLA Navys logistical needs have eased and it no longer has to maintain this aging foreign system. In addition, the new vertical launching system can launch either Chinas Red Flag-16 surface-to-air missiles or anti-submarine (ASW) missiles. Other major changes include the installation of new air search radars and the alleged replacement of the supersonic Russian Mosquito anti-ship cruise missile with the similarly powerful Chinese Hawk-12. Overall, image analysis shows that the weapons and sensors carried by the two upgraded modern Destroyers have changed significantly in more than a dozen places.
In 2015, China began upgrading its only 051B destroyer, highlighting the Chinese navys desire not to waste even one hull. After 16 years of service, the limited air defense capability of the ship has improved significantly. The Red Flag-7 surface-to-air missile with a range of about 12 kilometers was replaced by the Red Flag-16 surface-to-air missile with a range of about 50 kilometers. More importantly, the ship previously carried only 16 Red Flag-7 surface-to-air missiles (8 of which could be launched at any time), but now it is equipped with 32 vertical launching system units (all of which can be launched at any time), which are loaded with longer-range Red Flag-16 surface-to-air missiles. In order to guide these missiles and improve air coverage, more advanced type 382 radar is installed on the ship. In addition, helicopter hangar, air defense guns and anti submarine warfare capabilities have also changed. In view of the above, these upgrades have greatly enhanced the combat effectiveness of the 051B destroyer, which should be taken into account in its military assessment in the next 10 years or so when it is expected to continue its service.
Upgrading of existing aircraft
Every year, China adds dozens of new combat aircraft and a large number of supporting platforms, such as the AEW. In the past 10 years or so, the Chinese air force and navy have installed 11 aerial warning -200 AWACS. Although it is an effective supplement to the five larger and more capable Air Police-2000 aircraft installed in China in the same period, the design of the Air Police-200 does not allow 360-degree radar coverage, which is a major limitation. Meanwhile, by 2013, Chinese military observers have evidence that a new type of air early warning aircraft is being developed. The new air police-500 is based on the same fuselage as the air police-200 in general. It uses different radar designs to achieve 360-degree coverage.
The picture shows the air force -200 warning aircraft.
Although this new platform indicates that Chinas air early warning capability will be upgraded soon, it has not changed the limited capabilities of the 11 existing air police-200 aircraft. In 2016, observers first saw the upgraded fuselage of the Air Police - 200, which is said to be named the Air Police - 200A. The most obvious change is the addition of quite large new forward-looking radar to expand the coverage of radar. It is not clear whether the internal components have been changed, but given the rapid progress of Chinas defense electronic products, it is not impossible. At the end of 2017, there was evidence that the Air Police-200 fleet was further upgraded, with one adding satellite communications systems and passive electronic sensors to supplement radar images. Therefore, in general, although the number of AAP-200 aircraft remains at 11, and despite the increasing number of new AAP-500 aircraft to supplement it, the upgrading and transformation of the AAP-200 has made Chinas air early warning force continuously improved, but it has not attracted the attention of people like the new design and new fuselage.
The article holds that Chinas combat aircraft have gradually become more capable, existing aircraft have been upgraded, and subsequently produced aircraft have also improved. In some cases, such as the fighter -10, the change is very obvious. For example, by comparing the first modification of the J-10 with the photo of the J-10B, observers can see that the radar antenna shield and intake design are different and infrared search and tracking (IRST) sensors are added. However, these are differences between newly built aircraft, many of which (such as different intake designs) cannot be flipped onto the existing fuselage.
But there are other trends that can be flipped. Analysts say there is pictorial evidence that both Air Force and Navy aircraft have been upgraded, suggesting that the two services have not invested all their resources in building new aircraft. The fighter was upgraded with new radio antennas and integrated new and stronger ammunition. Some aircraft, such as fighter -11A fighters, have been equipped with missile proximity warning system (MAWS) several years later. Some other fighters such as -11B have been equipped with electronic countermeasures equipment (ECM) pod. Although it is unlikely to attract as much attention as new aircraft designs or even new ammunition, these small trends indicate significant advances in capabilities. In these cases, the result is that Chinese fighter planes can better defend enemy missiles and radar.
Although basic technologies can be integrated into all aircraft in China, they are platform-specific upgrades, the article said. In contrast, ammunition can be integrated into a variety of aircraft, such as the new Thunderbolt-15 long-range air-to-air missile. Other important Chinese munitions, such as the supersonic Hawk Strike-12 anti-ship cruise missile, have been integrated into older aircraft, including the Navy Air Force bomber-6G. Electronic countermeasure pods have also been integrated into a variety of designs, including several modifications of the bomber-6 family and fighter-7 fighter bombers. Without these relatively monotonous equipment, Chinas attack aircraft may be difficult to counter the opponents air defense system. Nevertheless, with these platforms and their new ammunition, and with the support of other capabilities of the Air Force and Naval Aviation Force, they are increasingly capable of accomplishing their tasks successfully.
What should we pay attention to in the naval field?
It remains to be seen how many active warships and aircraft will undergo major upgrading and medium-term modernization. It is possible for China to start mid-term upgrading of two 052B destroyers in the next few years, and in a few years to start mid-term upgrading of two 051C destroyers and two updated modern destroyers. If the existing upgrade project can be referred to, then these ships will probably replace the Russian vertical launch system with Chinas multi-functional vertical launch system. Sensors and communication systems are also likely to be upgraded so as to be consistent with other Fleet ships.
The article considers that other noteworthy upgrade plans are the upgrade plans for ship inversion design revision before mid-term upgrade. For example, by 2019, less than half of the 30 054A frigates will be equipped with variable depth sonars (VDS). Although not all PLA naval warships need to be equipped with such powerful anti-submarine warfare sensors, the Navy may wish to have more ships equipped with variable depth sonars and may upgrade some of these newly formed frigates. Similarly, with the spread of advanced anti-ship cruise missiles, especially those with hypersonic capabilities, the Chinese navy may have to invest heavily in upgrading radar, electronic countermeasures and air defense systems for even relatively new ships. Today, only 6 destroyers in China need to upgrade in the coming years. Ten years later, however, it may have to upgrade more than 20 destroyers, which are still very new, to keep up with the qualitative progress of the threat of anti-ship cruise missiles.
The article holds that Chinas submarine fleet is so secretive and well equipped that it is difficult to know whether Chinas submarines are upgrading and how effective they are. Although it has not yet been confirmed, a fixed-frame picture in a recent news broadcast in China may indicate that China has lengthened a Russian Kilo-class submarine, possibly to install an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. This effort will not be unique. Sweden has installed a hull with an AIP system on its West Gotland class submarine. Assuming that China has taken such action, it may equip another 11 Kilo-class and 13 Song-class submarines with AIP systems to supplement its 17 or so meta-class submarines equipped with AIP systems. This will enable the Chinese Navy to have more than 40 AIP submarines without building new ships on a large scale, and more importantly, greatly enhance the capabilities of its submarine forces. Similarly, it remains to be seen whether the ammunition used by the Chinese Navys submarine fleet is standardized and whether high-performance ammunition such as the new Hawk-18 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile has been loaded into all existing submarines.
What should be paid attention to in aviation field?
As the production of fighters of the fourth generation such as J-10 and J-11 eventually decreases and the number of fighters of the fourth and fifth generations in service approaches the requirement, the utility of counting the number of aircraft produced and listing the inventory for analysis becomes more and more limited. Analysts must pay more attention to how the Chinese army handles the hardware already in use and evaluate the significance of upgrading. Sometimes, these upgrades are obvious and can be identified by careful analysis of images. For example, it is not enough to know that China has apparently developed and put into use very powerful air-to-air missiles such as the Thunderbolt-15. The important question is how many missiles China has produced and how many planes can be equipped to use them. Unfortunately, the detachment of the PLA is so secretive that it can not answer the first question. However, second questions can be answered by observing and tracking the types of aircraft carrying specific ammunition.
The picture shows the Chinese Air Force fighter -11 fighter.
Similarly, although the radar installed on Chinese fighter planes is becoming more and more powerful, hundreds of competitive 4th generation aircraft in China are equipped with older and less capable radars, the article said. Whether China will load the active electronic scanning array (AESA) radar used by its latest J-10 and J-11 fighters onto older aircraft remains to be seen. Similarly, given that many of these aircraft modifications are in service, the logistical burden of maintaining such a diversified fleet will increase without standardized upgrades to avionics, similar to the United States Air Forces standardized Common Configuration Implementation Scheme (CCIP) for its multiple F-16 fighters. Sometimes, however, the development of the strength of active force is not so obvious. To understand the progress of defense electronics, including those installed on upgraded aircraft, analysts need to read Chinese technical journals and follow up on the activities of Chinas electronics industry.
Seeing the essence through appearances
The article believes that the military strength of the Chinese army has improved significantly. Many of these developments are visible and measurable. For example, analysts know that the Chinese navy has compiled dozens of new warships in the past few years. Likewise, they can find that these warships are becoming more capable and equipped with more advanced ammunition and sensors. However, the upgrading of Chinas military strength comes not only from the continuous production and input of new hardware. Older systems, even those that were put into use more than a decade ago, account for the bulk of weapons stockpiles and are likely to remain in service for decades. Even at a high rate of output, new equipment built each year accounts for only a small fraction of the total number of weapons available for conflict at any time. The article holds that the Chinese military has not invested all its resources in the production of new weapons, but has increased its investment in upgrading existing hardware. In the maritime and air fields, this has greatly enhanced Chinas capabilities, but has not attracted as much attention as the newly manufactured hardware columns. By upgrading the existing platforms, the strength of the Chinese army is stronger than it was even a few years ago. As Chinas military structure tends to be stable and modern equipment inventory tends to be complete, it will become more and more important to identify and evaluate the upgrading of existing equipment for understanding Chinas military capabilities. Analysts should pay more attention to these less obvious aspects of Chinas military modernization. (compile / He Jine) this article source: Reference News Net editor: Yao Wenguang _NN1682
The article believes that the military strength of the Chinese army has improved significantly. Many of these developments are visible and measurable. For example, analysts know that the Chinese navy has compiled dozens of new warships in the past few years. Likewise, they can find that these warships are becoming more capable and equipped with more advanced ammunition and sensors. However, the upgrading of Chinas military strength comes not only from the continuous production and input of new hardware. Older systems, even those that were put into use more than a decade ago, account for the bulk of weapons stockpiles and are likely to remain in service for decades. Even at a high rate of output, new equipment built each year accounts for only a small fraction of the total number of weapons available for conflict at any time.
The article holds that the Chinese military has not invested all its resources in the production of new weapons, but has increased its investment in upgrading existing hardware. In the maritime and air fields, this has greatly enhanced Chinas capabilities, but has not attracted as much attention as the newly manufactured hardware columns. By upgrading the existing platforms, the strength of the Chinese army is stronger than it was even a few years ago. As Chinas military structure tends to be stable and modern equipment inventory tends to be complete, it will become more and more important to identify and evaluate the upgrading of existing equipment for understanding Chinas military capabilities. Analysts should pay more attention to these less obvious aspects of Chinas military modernization. (compile / He Jine)