China's Military Expansion

Title: A Full Rundown Of China's Military Might
June 29, 2012
Business Insider

Abstract: Americans have heard about China's military expansion for years at this point.

Some say it's a minor threat, others claim Chinese expansion is to everyone's benefit, and still others think it spells doom for American world dominance. 

Here's a look at many of the weapons that China's betting on to establish its new military might.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) makes up the whole of China's military machine. The Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, and Second Artillery Corps all fall under the PLA. 

The PLA is the world's largest military, with more than 2.25 million active personnel. Currently, Chinese forces are only deployed fighting piracy, so — while not battle-hardened — this army is fresh, well equipped, and in excellent health. 

The Type 99 Main Battle Tank is the most advanced tank in all of China
Type 99 is a third-generation Main Battle Tank (MBT) tank, like the American M1 Abrams. 

The U.S. rolled out its MBT in 1980 and pays about $8.6 million for each one while the Type 99 sells for less than a third that price and went into production in 2001.

It's packing a 125mm cannon, three machine guns, and also hosts an array of countermeasures to disable an enemy tank's night vision and targeting systems. 

The HQ-19 missile system can track up to 100 airborne targets at once
The HQ-19 is likely a 
complete version of the Russian S-400 Surface to Air Missile system. 

Not only can the HQ's radar track 100 airborne targets, engage up to a dozen as far out as 250 miles, it is also effective for attacks on low-orbit satellites. 

The system has three missile variations for targeting at different ranges and they can all be fitted into the same truck mounted canisters.

One thing prompting the recent American scramble to upgrade or replace the Patriot system is the fact that the S-400 is — allegedly, arguably, possibly, etc — a lot better. 

The PGZ-95 anti-aircraft system fires up to 800 25mm rounds a minute
This self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery (SPAAA) has four 25 mm cannons, and four infrared homing missiles effective to almost 11,500 feet. 

The vehicle weighs 22 tons, is 20 ft long, has a crew of three and cannon can be brought to bear on ground targets making short work of light armored fighting vehicles.

A simple PGZ-95 battery consists of six units led by a command vehicle and three resupply trucks. 

The PGZ 95 is manufactured by Chinese Defense powerhouse Norinco, and is another example of the homegrown Chinese engineering making China a genuine military power.

China's new aircraft carriers will allow Chinese air power a vast reach
China has bought one old Soviet aircraft carrier — previously known as 
the Varyagnow unnamed but allegedly the Shi Lang — because of rising interest in projecting Chinese naval power abroad. 

More importantly, China is developing three to four aircraft carries. Plans had been acquired with the initial sale of th Varyag,  and China hopes to have at least three carriers soon.

Why three? Well, both India and Japan will have three aircraft carries each soon.

These new Frigates will allow China to enforce its 'exclusive economic zones'
China's getting a new Littoral ship, constructing a whole new class of 
corvette-type frigates

The new ships have the latest in technology and will bring unprecedented flexibility to the Chinese fleet, if analysts are to be believed. 

This is one of the few new ship designs to be construed domestically in China. 

According to sources, despite a relative absence of specs, the ship has "enhanced capabilities that are offered only piecemeal on other ships."

The Type 22 Houbei Class is the world's first attack catamaran
Stealthy wave piercing hulls define the Type 22, but it's rumored they're unstable in rough seas.

That problem is minimized when the craft picks up speed, delivering its two missile launchers to coastal waters at speeds up to 44 mph.

These ships are part of a three pronged response to U.S. forces that also includes diesel electric submarines and precise ballistic missiles. 

This is the trio likely to be deployed if a skirmish forms in the waters off Taiwan.

The Type 052 destroyers carry 48 missiles apiece
The Type 052 destroyer was developed and built by China's Jiangnan Shipyard.

It's a domestically developed destroyer which is the first in the People's Liberation Army Navy's to have a long-range air defense capability. 

There are two in service at the moment, another two completed, and three currently under construction. An eight ship is planned for construction. 

The ships are 154 meters long and can travel at 30 knots. They're equipped with a 360 degree radar system which is used in conjunction with a vertically launched missile system. Kits have been developed to deploy drones from the ships, and they're packing helicopters. 

China pays up to $800 million per ship and holds a crew of 250. 

The Kilo-class submarine can bring China's nuclear payload anywhere in the world
China possesses twelve 
Kilo submarines, all purchased from the Soviet Union or Russia. They're diesel powered and can hit 300m of depth.

The subs are armed with 18 torpedoes, 24 mines, and can be upgraded to have submarine-based surface to air missile launching capabilities. 

These home-made submarines show that China's getting great at making new tech — and keeping it a secret
These subs were built by Wuchang Shipbuilding and successor craft to the Type 039 submarines. 

Their diesel powered and are 75 meters in length. Seven have been completed. They can travel at least 20 knots and are armed with six torpedo tubes. They're equipped with Russian sonar systems. 

The ships are slated to replace the Romeo and Ming class subs that currently function as the backbone of the Chinese submarine fleet. At least one of the seven built are in service with the People's Liberation Army Navy. 

These Harbin Z-9 helicopter can transport 10 troops each virtually anywhere
Harbin Z-9 is China's version of the Eurocopter, built under license.

China's Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation initially built the craft with parts from the European Aerospatiale in the early eighties.

By the nineties, Harbin was manufacturing the helicopter with 70% of the parts manufactured domestically. 

These two light attack helicopters are among the best in the world
These two helicopters constitute the latest in Chinese armed helicopter technology. 

The Harbin Z-19 is a militarized version of the Harbin Z-9. It's updated and upgraded, and was introduced in 2011. It's currently in the prototype phase of development. 

It's equipped with armor plating and requires two to pilot, can fly 152 mph, and will be armed to to teeth once it enters service. 

The Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation Wuzhuang Zhisengji-10 (CAIC WZ-10) is a domestically developed and manufactured attack helicopter introduced in 2010. Public imagery is rare, but this helicopter is stacked. 

It's got a maximum speed of 300 km/h, a service ceiling of 6,100 m, 4 hard points, a grenade launcher or machine gun, and the ability to hold dozens of missiles. China's the only country with it. 

The Tianyan 2 Unmanned Helicopter can launch from ships for aerial reconnaissance
In 2006, the People's Liberation Army unveiled the Tianyan-2 unmanned helicopter, a huge win for the Chinese in the race for drone superiority. 

The UAV is designed for use in "high density" environments (cities), is a capable bomber, and was developed by the Armed Police Engineering Institute. 

This is one of the very first unmanned air combat vehicles successfully developed by the Chinese, but likely adapted from the Japanese Yamaha RMAX unmanned helicopters. 

The Su-30MKK fighter jet have missiles, rockets, and laser-guided bombs
The People's Liberation Army Air Force uses a modified version of the Russian-made Su-30, the Su-30MKK variant. These were introduced in December of 2000, and so far 134 have been built.

The Su-30MKK variant is, in fact, manufactured in China by the Chinese Shenyang Aircraft Company

The MKK has a crew of two and a wingspan of nearly 50 feet. They're equipped with both air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as unguided rockets and laser-guided bombs.

The Chengdu J-10 is the cornerstone of China's domestic fighter business
In 1988, Deng Xiaoping authorized half a billion yuan towards development of a domestic Chinese fighter aircraft. The 
result of that investment is the J-10, manufactured by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation. 

The fighters were formally introduced in 2005, as of October 2011 at least 210 had been produced. They've been sold to Pakistan, but hey are a huge part of the People's Liberation Army's Air Force. 

The planes are 50 ft long and can reach a speed of Mach 2.2. They have a combat range of 1600 kilometers. They're equipped with one 23mm twin barrel cannon, 90mm rocket pods, missiles, bombs, and eleven hard points. They're comparable to an F-15 or an F-18. 

The design for the Chengdu J-11 was stolen straight from the Russians
The Shenyang J-11 is the Chinese Multirole air superiority fighter. As of February, 164 have been constructed.

The J-11 was developed from the Sukhoi Su-27, and that remains a significant point of contention between the nations. Russia cancelled a huge order of Su-27 that were going to China because they believed that the J-11 had been largely reverse engineered from the Su-27.

The J-11 has a single pilot. it can fly up to Mach 2.25. It's got a 30 mm cannon, missiles, unguided rockets, and cluster bombs.

The J-20 could be the future of Chinese aviation
While all of those other aircraft have ended up in the field, this one is the future of Chinese tactical aviation. 

The J-20 is a purported stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft. 

It's also designed and manufactured by Chinese aircraft magnate Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.

It first flew in January 2011.  The Deputy Commander of the People's Liberation Army Air Force foresees the J-20 to come out in 2017 or 2019. That's similar to the F-35 roll out for the United States.

The Hongqi missile has an operation range of over 125 miles
The Hongqi 9 is the latest generation of medium to long-range radar homing surface to air missiles. 

The HQ-9 may incorporate  guidance systems on par with the U.S. Patriot missile system. They can fly at Mach 4.2, they have an operational range of 125 mph.

It's said to be comparable to the S-300P system and the MIM-104 Patriot missile system. 

The HQ-2JK missile can take down high-altitude bombers and spy planes
The Hongqi-2 (HQ-2J) is a modified and upgraded Hongqi 2 system, which is itself a modified and upgraded Soviet S-75 Dvina Surface-to-Air missile. The HQ-2 was the lynchpin of Chinese air security for decades. 

The S-75 — called the SA-2 Guideline by NATO — was the missile system that shot down both Francis Gary Powers' and Rudolf Anderson's U2s, as well as John McCain's bomber over Hanoi, Vietnam. 

Needless to say, it's a missile with well-proven history

The Ju Lang-2 delivers an immense payload up to 8,700 miles away
The Ju Lang-2 intercontinental missile is the second generation of Chinese submarine-launched ballistic missiles. 

It's a closely held secret, and details are sketchy. If it lives up to what public military intelligence says it is, it's a huge get for China, especially with their new sub fleet. 

The missile is believed to have a range of 8,000 km, and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads. 

It's a two stage missile, and a later version could travel up to 14,000km (8,700 miles). There have been eleven known tests of the ICBM, and the ability to launch from a submarine expands the range in a massive way. 

The Dongfeng class of ICBMs can drop a nuclear missile anywhere in North America
The Dongfeng missile is a series of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Initially, these were acquired from the Soviet Union, but China quickly began a domestic program to immense success. It's worth remembering that China is a nuclear nation. 

The Dongfeng 4 (DF-4) was developed in the late sixties, and has a range which extends roughly to Moscow and Guam. The DF-4 was also the basis for China's first space vehicle, the Long March 1. 20 remain in service, to be replaced by the DF-31. 

The Dongfeng 5 (DF-5) entered service in 1981, and can carry a 3 megaton nuclear warhead up to 12,000 km. The two to three dozen DF-5s in service are China's primary ICBM force. 

The Dongfeng 31(DF-31) is China's brand new road mobile solid fuel ICBM. It can carry a 1 kiloton warhead 8,000 kilometers. The improved DF-31A has a range of 11,000 km. The DF-31 also served as the basis for the JL-2. 30 are in service. 

The Dongfeng 41 (DF-41) is a speculative next-generation ICBM that analysts believe is in development by China. It may be able to carry up to ten warheads up to 14,000 km (Business Insider, 2012).

Title: China Launches Largest Amphibious Augmentation Platform Yet
Date: August 13, 2012

Abstract: The Chinese military launched a 36,000-tonne 'Bohai Sea Green Pearl' ferry vessel on 8 August at Yantai Port in Shandong Province.

The vessel has a dual design that allows it to serve as a civilian transport ship and as an 'amphibious augmentation platform' allowing troop and heavy equipment transport.

According to Chinese media, the platform is Asia's largest, most advanced and most luxurious commercial cruise ship and was developed as part of a civilian-military integration strategic development project intended to enhance passenger transport in Bohai Bay while reinforcing strategic maritime delivery capabilities for continental Chinese military forces.

A Chinese official has described the vessel as "a new leap forward for Chinese military/civilian vessel strategic projection".

The State Commission for National Defense Mobilization, under the State Council and the Central Military Commission, carried news and pictures of the ceremony on its website.

Prior to the maiden voyage, dozens of armoured vehicles, artillery pieces and other heavy equipment performed a boarding drill on the ship, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily reported. A Jinan military area command officer told Chinese media that the ship can also serve as temporary barracks for military personnel (Janes, 2012).

Title: China To Deploy Drones To Conduct Maritime Surveillance
Date: August 29, 2012
Times of India

Abstract: Amid increasing maritime disputes with a host of its neighbours, China today said it plans to deploy 
unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs) along its coast line to conduct "remote-sensing marine surveillance." 

"The plan also includes the construction of 11 UAV bases run by provincial maritime authorities," Yu Qingsong, a division chief of the State Oceanic Administration, said. 

No further details on the scale or the schedule of the project were provided, but Yu noted that at least one drone would be stationed at each base, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today. 

The announcement came in the midst of maritime tensions between China and host of its neighbours over the disputed 
islands in the South and North China Sea. 

The Xinhua report said China had earlier launched trial program last year in Liaoning Province where rented Drones were successfully used to take aerial photos of a 980 square kilometer sea area. 

Local authorities said they could use the high-definition photos to discover illegal land reclamation and sand dredging as well as monitor marine environments along the coast and on islets. 

A separate test on a drone-based 3D monitoring system was also conducted earlier this year by the maritime authority in east China's Jiangsu Province, the report said
(Times of India, 2012).

Title: China Now Using A Cruise Ship to Haul Troops And Tanks
Date: September 3, 2012
Pak Alert

Abstract: The media freaked out about China’s 
crappy aircraft carrier and hyperventilated over the J-20 stealth fighter. But China’s newest addition to its military is more subtle, and stylish. It’s a 36,000-ton pleasure boat capable of disgorging thousands of troops and hundreds of vehicles held inside its belly.

That would be the Bahai Sea Green Pearl, a 36,000-ton ferry and cruise ship commissioned in August at Yantai Port in China’s northeastern Shandong Province. At heart a vessel for pleasure and civilian transport, the ship is intended to normally ferry cars and passengers across the Yellow Sea. But when needed by the People’s Liberation Army, the Green Pearl can double as a troop carrier. During its launching ceremony and demonstration on Aug. 8, PLA troops could be seen loading dozens of tanks, artillery pieces and armored vehicles on board.

Photos from Chinese state television posted to the China Defense Blog show some of the action, including what looks like fully loaded soldiers running through a corridor. Tanks and artillery pieces are also seen inside one of the ship’s three vehicle compartments. How they got there: via the ship’s roll-on/roll-off (or ro-ro) ramp on its stern.

China also has three more of the vessels under construction, which Zhang Wei, chief of the PLA’s MilitaryTransportation Department under the PLA General Logistics Department, said is a “new leap in our military use of civilian vessels to improve the strategic projection.” The Green Pearl reportedly has room for morethan 2,000 people and 300 cars. It’s even got a helicopter pad.

It’s also got luxury. When the ship isn’t ferrying civilians, China’s troops could take in the pleasure of tallwindows for observing “the beautiful scenery of the sea,” reported the Yantai Daily Media Group. Not only that, but rooms — which range from first to third class — are equipped with televisions, cellphone signal amplifiers and wireless internet access. And if the troops get bored in their rooms, there’s always mingling in one of two staterooms and a cafe. There are even rooms set aside for reading and chess. And no cruise ship would be complete without some collective entertainment at a multi-purpose auditorium. If troops are feeling cooped up, they can always go above deck for excursions in the sun.

It’s also not a new concept. Using civilian ships for double duty is “entirely in keeping with Chinese practices reaching back for centuries,” Jim Holmes, an associate professor of strategy at the Navy War College, tells Danger Room. For Western navies, that practice dated up until the 18th century. And today, the U.S. uses mixed military and commercial ships to refuel at sea, Holmes says.

China has also been building up its fleet of amphibious assault ships, which could be at the front line of an invasion of Taiwan, say. That is, if China could conceivably launch one. But probably not. Since 2008, China has launched four Yuzhao-class, or Type 081 amphibious assault ships. The lead ship was deployed to fight pirates near Somalia. China is also reportedly working on a newer, bigger amphibious ship called the Type 081 (.pdf).

What’s more likely is using the Green Pearl for “soft power” operations distant from China’s shores. “Beijing seems rather comfortable with the situation in the Taiwan Strait and is clearly looking beyond Taiwan, as it has been for some time now,” Holmes says. “Such a vessel could be a workhorse for any mission involving amphibious operations, meaning humanitarian relief.”

That could mean delivering aid, transporting doctors and engineers to a country beset by an emergency. And there’s always port calls. That is, making stops in countries friendly to China while carrying a contingent of visiting officers and diplomats on board.

And not that China’s new cruise ships of war have any chance of matching the United States’ own massive fleet of commercial transport ships available for military duties. The U.S. has 60 privately owned commercial ships available to be called upon by the Navy under the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Security Program. Most of those are heavy-duty container vessels, but 17 of them are ro-ro ships.

According to the DoT’s Maritime Administration (.pdf), the Navy has relied on them to lift troops during thePersian Gulf War, and into Bosnia, Somalia and Kosovo, and has had to rely on those commercial ships even more in recent years to fight the war in Iraq. The United Kingdom famously hauled troops during the Falklands War with the Queen Elizabeth 2.

In the meantime, let the PLA take in the scenic views and relax to the soothing hum of the Green Pearl‘s engines. Unlike the U.S. and British cruise and ro-ro ships of war, there’s not a huge chance of China’s new pleasure boat invading anyone any time soon (Pak Alert, 2012).

Title: Is China’s New Stealth Fighter Headed To Sea?
Date: September 17, 2012

Abstract: The U.S. knows very little about China’s 
newest stealth fighter prototype, the Shenyang J-21. But the just-released photographs of the Chinese jet reveal it to have a barely noticeable but key detail — one that suggests the jet might be hauled by China’s future fleet of aircraft carriers.

The J-21, according to the three photos of it circulating on the Internet, has twin nose wheels. That’s the kind of tough landing gear usually associated with naval fighters optimized for launching and landing on the heaving decks of aircraft carriers at sea. Could the J-21 be a tool of Chinese naval power?

Just two days after the J-21 — or J-31, as some observers think it’s designated — made its blurry Internet debut at a factory airfield in northeastern China, there are far more questions than answers about the new airplane’s origins, characteristics and purpose.

How stealthy is it — and how far along in its development? Is the J-21 a copy of the U.S. F-35 based on blueprints stolen by Chinese hackers, as some China-watchers contend? Is the new plane meant to compete with, or complement, the larger Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter prototype that debuted 21 months ago? And was the J-21′s first appearance timed to send a forceful message to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is China on his first visit as Pentagon chief?

We don’t know. But the nose wheels seem to indicate that the J-21 is at least theoretically capable of flying from theLiaoningChina’s first aircraft carrier. Many carrier planes — including the American F-35C and F/A-18E/F, the Russian Su-33 and China’s related J-15 — all have the distinctive twin wheels, whereas most strictly land-based jets have only a single wheel up front. The reason is simple: carrier planes land harder on their comparatively tiny, seagoing airstrips, and thus require more robust landing gear able to distribute the force of impact.

To be fair, China’s carrier Liaoning has spent the last 15 months on sea trials around its home port of Dalian in the country’s northeast, and has yet to launch or land a fixed-wing plane. When that important milestone might take place is anyone’s guess. Working up a safe and effective carrier and seagoing air wing is hard. “Simply having a ship is only the beginning to effective carrier operations,” The Atlantic‘s James Fallows pointed out.

But Beijing is working to get its carrier planes ready. The J-15, an upgraded Chinese copy of Russia’s Cold War-vintage Su-33 carrier fighter, has been flying since 2009. And in August a J-15 was apparently craned aboard Liaoning for deck-handling tests. China is also developing what looks like a copy of the U.S. E-2C carrier-borne radar plane, though it’s not clear the Chinese model can launch from a ship’s deck.

A naval J-21 could complement this evolving mix of carrier-based warplanes, providing the same stealthy backup that the F-35 is meant to offer to non-radar-evading F-18s in the future U.S. Navy air wing.

But that’s assuming a lot. Until we see a J-21 launching from Liaoning‘s deck, we can only wonder about those twin nose wheels, and speculate about the new fighter’s possible maritime destiny (Wired, 2012).

Title: China Unveils First Aircraft Carrier To Enter Service
Date: September 25, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: China formally entered its first aircraft carrier into service on Tuesday, underscoring its ambitions to be a leading Asian naval power, although the ship is not expected to carry a full complement of planes or be ready for combat for some time.

The Defense Ministry's announcement had been long expected and was not directly linked to current tensions with Japan over a disputed group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

In a brief notice on its website, the ministry said the carrier's commissioning significantly boosted the navy's combat capabilities and its ability to cooperate in responding to natural disasters and other non-traditional threats.

"It has important significance in effectively safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development benefits, and advancing world peace and common development," the statement said.

China had partly justified the launching of a carrier by pointing out that it alone among the five permanent United Nations Security Council members had no such craft. That had been particularly glaring given the constant presence in Asia of carriers operated by the U.S. Navy, which maintains 11 worldwide.

President Hu Jintao, also chairman of the commission that controls the military, presided over a ceremony Tuesday morning at the ship's home port of Dalian, along with Premier Wen Jiabao and top generals. Hu "fully affirmed" the efforts of those working on the ship and called on them to complete all remaining tasks according to the highest standard, the Defense Ministry said.

The carrier is the former Soviet navy's unfinished Varyag, which was towed from Ukraine in 1998 minus its engines, weaponry and navigation systems. Christened the Liaoning after the northeastern province surrounding Dalian, the ship began sea trials in August 2011 following years of refurbishment.

So far the trial runs of the aircraft carrier have been to test the ship's propulsion, communications and navigation systems. But launching and recovering fixed-wing aircraft at sea is a much trickier proposition. It will take years to build the proper aircraft, to train pilots to land in adverse weather on a moving deck, and to develop a proper carrier battle group.

China is developing a carrier-based fighter-bomber, the J-15, derived from Russia's Sukhoi Su-33, along with a prototype stealth carrier fighter, the J-31.

Beijing hasn't said what role it intends the carrier to fill other than helping safeguard China's coastline and sea links. The Liaoning has also been portrayed as a kind of test platform for the future development of up to five domestically built Chinese carriers.

Writing in Tuesday's China Daily newspaper, retired Rear Adm. Yang Yi said the carrier will be used to master the technology for more advanced carriers. He said it also will be used to train in how to operate such a craft in a battle group and with vessels from other nation's navies.

Without specifically mentioning China's territorial disputes, Yang acknowledged other countries' concerns about its growing military might, but said Beijing wouldn't shy from flexing its muscles.

"When China has a more balanced and powerful navy, the regional situation will be more stable as various forces that threaten regional peace will no longer dare to act rashly," Yang wrote.

Whatever its practical effects on China's global status, the carrier embodies huge symbolism for China's political and military leaders as a totem of their country's rise from weakness to strength, according to Andrew S. Erickson, a China naval specialist at the U.S. Naval War College.

"While (Chinese navy) acceptance of this `starter carrier' is the first step in a long journey, it is a journey that will take place in full view of the world, and one that will ultimately take Beijing to a new place as a great sea power," Erickson wrote on his blog.

The carrier's political importance was highlighted in Wen's remarks to the ceremony, in which he said it would "arouse national pride and patriotic passion."

"This has mighty and deep significance for the opening of a new facet in our enterprise of socialism with Chinese characteristics," he said (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Defense Spending In Asia On The Rise; China Leading The Way
October 16, 2012

A new report shows a trend of increased defense spending among Asia's major military powers, with China's military budget accounting for nearly half of all spending in the region. It's a trend that reflects one reason why the Pentagon is heavily focused on increasing its presence in the region.

According to official reports from China, defense spending there has increased to $90 billion in 2011 from $22.5 billion in 2000. It should be noted that skeptics believe China's official numbers are purposely low. For example, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated that China's 2011 defense budget was much closer to $142 billion.

Either way, there's no doubt China is spending more on defense. That growth helped China surpass Japan in 2005 as the biggest defense spender in Asia, according to a study of Asian defense spending released this week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The nation now accounts for 40% of military spending in Asia.

But China is not alone. All five of Asia's military powers, which also include India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, increased their defense budgets, especially in the past six years. The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates that by the end of this year, Asia will be spending more on defense than Europe.

This trend will likely continue, according to the center, because several nations are investing heavily in high-cost weapons systems, including India's Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, and Japan's planned purchase of at least 42 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

But consider this, if you combine the defense budgets for all five top Asian nations, it adds up to about $223 billion for 2011 ($275 billion if the Stockholm institute's estimates of China's spending are accurate). That's less than half of the United States' planned base defense budget (not including spending on the war in Afghanistan) for 2013.

It's also important to note that defense spending is not a very good predictor of a nation's success on the battlefield. As Winston Wheeler of the Project on Government Oversight pointed out last week, "If spending or the size and breadth of forces were the sole determinants of success, the British and French would have won in 1940, the Russians would have repelled the Germans in 1941." He also pointed out that the American colonists never would have beaten King George's army and navy, if defense spending were a good indicator of military success (CNN, 2012).

Title: China’s Increasing Military Spending Unnerves Neighbors
October 23, 2012
Washington Post

China’s military spending has been rapidly spiraling upward, and the growing amounts are unnerving Beijing’s Asian neighbors and policy planners in the Pentagon, who are openly wary about the country’s long-term intentions.

Getting a handle on Chinese military spending is difficult because much of it is opaque and off the books, such as the People’s Liberation Army’s spending on research and space exploration. But various international think tanks estimate that China’s military spending has risen from about $20 billion in 2002 to at least $120 billion last year.

France has pushed hard to spur population growth, granting women many benefits but possibly degrading their role in society.

China is often the target of complaints from around the world about computer hacking. But on Thursday, the government's foreign press office may have been the victim.

The United States still spends four times as much on its military. But by some accounts, China is on course to surpass the United States in total military spending by 2035.

The increased spending has allowed the PLA to embark on a sweeping modernization program that includes new long-range cruise missiles, a new fleet of J-10 and J-11 fighter jets, an experimental stealth J-20 plane, a refurbished Soviet-era aircraft carrier and a growing space program, which includes China’s own satellite navigation network. The PLA has also embarked on a long-term campaign to improve the inter-operability of its various ground, naval and air forces — long a weak point for the Chinese military.

Some critics, including China’s skeptical neighbors, are alarmed at the spending, which they say is being used to bolster China’s more assertive stance over long-disputed, uninhabited islands in the South China and East China seas. Longer term, some predict, China’s growing military might shift the balance with American-armed Taiwan, which Chinese leaders consider a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland.

The military growth has led the Obama administration to refocus America’s defense posture away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and toward the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese buildup has also caused Japan and some Southeast Asian countries to seek reassurance from the United States that they won’t be abandoned, although Chinese diplomats have accused the United States of meddling in what are essentially regional disputes.

Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan of the China Military Science Society said outsiders need not be concerned. China’s military spending only reflects the newly booming economy, he said, and the country is simply playing catch up after years of neglect.

“Actually, our rapid spending increase in recent years is more like compensation for the past,” Luo said. “Second, the huge increase in our budget is because China faces a lot of threats, traditional and nontraditional. We have a lot of land occupied by other countries. We’re also one of the countries in the world with the most neighbors.”

Luo also said that while other sectors are enjoying the fruits of reform, the armed forces should not be neglected.

“It’s important that a person not only grow his bones, but also his muscles,” Luo said. “The military is the muscles” (Washington Post, 2012).

Title: Photos Show Second China Stealth Fighter Prototype Has Test Flight
November 1, 2012
Fox News

China has test flown a second model of a prototype stealth fighter, aviation experts said Thursday, in a sign of its aircraft industry's growing sophistication.

Photos posted to the Internet Thursday showed the radar-avoiding aircraft airborne near the northeastern city of Shenyang with its landing gear still down. Two Chinese-made J-11 fighters accompanied it on the flight, which Chinese military enthusiast websites said took place Wednesday and lasted about 10 minutes.

Ross Babbage of Australia's Kokoda Foundation and Greg Waldron of Fliightglobal magazine in Singapore said the plane known as the J-31 appeared to be a smaller version of the J-20 prototype that was tested last year in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

While both planes feature stealth design features, their true capabilities in terms of sensors, radar-absorbing coatings, and other key factors remain unknown. It isn't known when, or if, either plane will go into production.

"I think it's a fairly straight forward evolution to develop advanced fighters at this time, but you can't read too much into it in terms of capabilities," Waldron told The Associated Press.

The smaller and nimbler J-31 appeared intended for a fighter-interceptor role similar to the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter, while the heavier J-20 would target airfields, warships and other ground targets, he said.

The technical barriers and development costs for such aircraft are enormous and the U.S. has struggled for years to deliver on their potential.

Another major challenge for China is developing engines for its fighters that are reliable and capable enough for such cutting-edge aircraft, Babbage said. China remains overwhelmingly reliant on Russia for engines for its latest J-10, J-11, and J-15 models, the last two of which were developed from Russian Sukhoi fighter-bombers.

"The demands in the engine area are very substantial," Babbage said.

Despite that, the ability to develop two prototype stealth fighters at the same time demonstrates an impressive capability on the part of the Chinese industry, he said.

"It's a very interesting development. It shows how rapidly they're moving ahead" (Fox News, 2012).

Title: China Submarines To Soon Carry Nukes, Draft U.S. Report Says
November 8, 2012

China appears to be within two years of deploying submarine-launched nuclear weapons, adding a new leg to its nuclear arsenal that should lead to arms-reduction talks, a draft report by a congressionally mandated U.S. commission says.

China in the meantime remains "the most threatening" power in cyberspace and presents the largest challenge to U.S. supply chain integrity, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a draft of its 2012 report to the U.S. Congress.

China is alone among the original nuclear weapons states to be expanding its nuclear forces, the report said. The others are the United States, Russia, Britain and France.

Beijing is "on the cusp of attaining a credible nuclear triad of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and air-dropped nuclear bombs," the report says.

China has had a largely symbolic ballistic missile submarine capability for decades but is only now set to establish a "near-continuous at-sea strategic deterrent," the draft said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has made it a priority to modernize the country's navy. China launched its first aircraft carrier, purchased from Ukraine and then refurbished, in September.

"Building strong national defense and powerful armed forces that are commensurate with China's international standing and meet the needs of its security and development interests is a strategic task of China's modernization drive," Hu said in a speech on Thursday at the opening of the Chinese Communist Party's once-every-five-years congress.

To address a wide variety of security threats, "we must make major progress in modernizing national defense and the armed forces," Hu said.

That means China must "complete military mechanization and make major progress in full military IT (information technology) application by 2020," he said.

The deployment of a hard-to-track, submarine-launched leg of China's nuclear arsenal could have significant consequences in East Asia and beyond. It also could add to tensions between the United States and China, the world's two biggest economies.

Any Chinese effort to ensure a retaliatory capability against a U.S. nuclear strike "would necessarily affect Indian and Russian perceptions about the potency of their own deterrent capabilities vis-à-vis China," the report said, for instance.

Arms Control Talks Urged
China is party to many major international pacts and regimes regarding nuclear weapons and materials. But it remains outside of key arms limitation and control conventions, such as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed in April 2010 and the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The United States historically has approached these bilaterally with Russia.

The U.S. Congress should require the U.S. State Department to spell out efforts to integrate China into nuclear arms reduction, limitation, and control discussions and agreements, the draft said.

In addition, Congress should "treat with caution" any proposal to unilaterally reduce operational U.S. nuclear forces without clearer information being made available to the public about China's nuclear stockpile and force posture, it said.

China is estimated by the Arms Control Association, a private nonpartisan group in Washington, to have 240 nuclear warheads. The United States, by contrast, has some 5,113, including tactical, strategic and nondeployed weapons.

China Deploying New Class of Subs
Beijing already has deployed two of as many as five of a new class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. The JIN-class boat is due to carry the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile with an estimated range of about 7,400 km (4,600 miles).

The new submarines and the JL-2 missile will give Chinese forces its "first credible sea-based nuclear capability," the U.S. Defense Department said in its own 2012 annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving China.

The JL-2 program has faced repeated delays but may reach an initial operating capability within the next two years, according to the Pentagon report, released in May.

The Pentagon declined to comment directly on China's march toward creating a credible nuclear "triad" involving strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The final version of the report is to be released next Wednesday by the U.S.-China commission, a 12-member bipartisan group set up in 2000 to report to U.S. lawmakers on security implications of U.S.-China trade.

The draft, in its section on cyber-related issues, called on the Congress to develop a sanctions regime to penalize specific companies found to engage in, or otherwise benefit from, industrial espionage.

Congress should define industrial espionage as an illegal subsidy subject to countervailing duties, it added.

Lawmakers also should craft legislation to boost the security of critical supply chains, "particularly in the context of U.S. government and military procurement," the draft said (Reuters, 2012).

Title: Analysts Keep Close Eye On China's Mystery Space Plane
November 9, 2012

As the next secretive flight of the U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B mini-shuttle draws closer, analysts are keeping a close eye on China’s own potential space plane, the Shenlong.

Last year several Chinese media outlets reported a test flight of the Shenlong space plane that apparently included its airdrop from an H-6 bomber. But the nature of the Shenlong project's testing, as well as what the robot vehicle truly represents, remains sketchy.

Several China watchers in the U.S. have taken a stab at what the Shenlong (Mandarin for "Divine Dragon) might mean, with some experts conjecturing that the craft is simply a tit-for-tat response to the unmanned X-37B space plane.

Challenge to the U.S.?
China is the third country, after Russia and the United States, to develop an independent human spaceflight program. It has made a series of incremental advances that culminated earlier this year in China's first manned space docking at an orbital laboratory. The country has stated its goal of building a 60-ton space station for future missions.

China's current manned Shenzhou spacecraft, however, are capsule-based vehicles.

"Shenlong is China’s effort to develop a re-entering aerodynamic spacecraft, similar to the space shuttle or the X-37B but much smaller than either," said Mark Gubrud, a postdoctoral research associate in the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University.

Gubrud told that if China space designers are successful in their Shenlong work, the country may attempt to develop a larger version. [Winged Spaceships: Space Plane Evolution (Infographic)]

"However, the economic rationale for the (NASA) shuttle was never realized, and it is not clear what advantages the X-37B offers the U.S. military over conventional upper stages, satellite buses and re-entry capsules," Gubrud said. The Air Force's robotic plane would appear to serve the U.S. primarily as a sign that American space power endures despite retirement of the NASA space shuttle fleet, he said.

"Appropriately enough, Shenlong may also be little more than a symbol of China’s ability to challenge U.S. assumptions of primacy and technological dominance," Gubrud said.

Keeping up with the (space) Joneses
Joan Johnson-Freese, a national security affairs professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., said: "I don’t think it’s useful to hype the potential threat of technology test-bed programs. Countries including but not limited to China and the U.S. are working on space plane technology."

Johnson-Freese said programmatic interest in such technology dates back to the Air Force DynaSoar program in the 1950s. "But that program was canceled for several reasons, including nobody knew what exactly it would be useful for that couldn’t be done by other means … though it has been suggested recently that it would provide additional 'global strike' capability," she added.

When Russia pursued its own shuttle, the Buran, Johnson-Freese said a cosmonaut friend told her it was for the sake of "keeping up with the Joneses." "If countries see the U.S. working on a space plane," she said, "they will feel compelled to do so, also." [X-37B Space Plane: Photos of the U.S. Military's Mini-Shuttle]

Johnson-Freese said she is concerned about the action/reaction spiral in technology development, fueled sometimes by sensationalist speculation. "The technology itself, if developed and operationalized — and the hard evidence right now on that is scarce — could be destabilizing as it pushes countries to act faster in fear of potential threats," she concluded.

Space-to-ground military operations
Other China space program watchdogs are mindful of the military origins of the country's space efforts.

"It seems to be a focus, and it likely builds upon a bureaucratic element that had proposed a space shuttle/space plane approach to manned space that was trumped by the Shenzhou space capsule design,"  said Dean Cheng, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center in Washington.

Cheng said numerous scientific conferences held in China during 1988-92 saw debate about what the manned space program vehicle should look like.

"Given regular People’s Liberation Army writings about the importance of space-to-ground military operations in the future, something like an X-43 (an unmanned experimental hypersonic aircraft) or X-37B would also have appeal, as a likely pathway for military purposes," Cheng said.

Emerging U.S.-China space competition
In August, China analysts Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins posted their Shenlong assessment on their China SignPost website.

Erickson is an associate professor in the Strategic Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College and an associate in research at Harvard University’s John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Collins is a student at the University of Michigan Law School whose research includes a focus on commodity, security, and rule-of-law issues in China. Their co-authored posting was titled "Spaceplane Development Becomes a New Dimension of Emerging U.S.-China Space Competition."

"Beijing may be entering the space plane era faster than many would have predicted," Erickson and Collins wrote.

As for the Shenlong test flight, they said: "To be sure, much remains uncertain about the nature of such a 'test,' most likely a glide/aerodynamic test from an H-6 bomber. Shenlong is very likely far less capable than the X-37B and may still be years away from yielding a vehicle with true operational capability."

The bottom line
Erickson and Collins also wrote that, depending on its precise nature, Shenlong’s reported test may turn out to be part of a larger trend: a shrinking time gap between when the U.S. discloses a prototype military system and when China publicly shows a system similar in type —if not equal in capabilities or immediately operational.

"For previous aerospace developments, China typically revealed its systems’ existence at least 15 years after the U.S. first showed its analogous platforms," Erickson and Collins observed.

The bottom line, the two researchers said, is that foreign policymakers need to take China’s ambitions in space seriously.

"Beijing’s development of space plane programs is broad-based, and their trajectory will represent a key barometer of its civil and military space intentions” (MSNBC, 2012).

Title: China To Launch Manned Spaceship In June
November 10, 2012

China plans to launch another manned spacecraft Shenzhou-10 in early June 2013, a lead space program official said here Saturday.

Like in the Shenzhou-9 mission, the crew might include two men astronauts and a woman, who are scheduled to enter the Tiangong-1 space lab module, Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of China's manned space program, said on the sidelines of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

"They will stay in space for 15 days, operating both automated and manual space dockings with the target orbiter Tiangong-1, conducting scientific experiments in the lab module and giving science lectures to spectators on the Earth," he said.

In the coming mission, Shenzhou-10 will offer ferrying services of personnel and supplies for Tiangong-1, further testing the astronauts' abilities of working and living in space, as well as the functions of the lab module, he said.

"The success of this mission might enable China to construct a space lab and a space station," he said.

Tiangong-1 was sent into space in September 2011. It docked with the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft last November and the manned Shenzhou-9 in June this year, verifying China's space docking capabilities.

Shenzhou-9 carried the first Chinese woman Liu Yang, together with two male crew mates, into outer space.

"After more than a year of operation in space, Tiangong-1 is still in good condition," Niu said.

"Tiangong-1, with a design life of two years, will likely remain in orbit for further operation after the space docking with Shenzhou-10," he said.

The launch rocket and spaceship have been assembled and are being tested, and astronauts are being trained, Niu said.

"The selection for the crew will begin in early 2013," he said.

China initiated the manned space program in 1992. It successfully sent Yang Liwei, the country's first astronaut, into orbit on Shenzhou-5 spacecraft in 2003.

Yang was followed by a two-man mission that carried Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng in 2005.

The trio of Shenzhou-7 astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng orbited the Earth for three days in 2008, and Zhai became the first Chinese to conduct extra-vehicular activities on Sept. 27, 2008.

China plans to build its own space station in around 2020.

"The space station is a state-level space experimental platform. We will make the best use of it to solve some problems concerning the country's scientific, technological development and people's livelihoods," Niu said (Xinhua, 2012).

Title: Disaster-Monitoring Satellite Launched By China
November 18, 2012
Space Flight Now

China launched a Long March 2C rocket Sunday with a radar-equipped environmental satellite to monitor the globe for natural disasters, according to state media reports.

The Huanjing 1C satellite, mounted on top of a Long March 2C rocket, lifted off at 2253 GMT (5:53 p.m. EST) from the Taiyuan space center in northern China's Shanxi province, according to Xinhua, a Chinese state-run media outlet.

Liftoff occurred at 6:53 a.m. Beijing time on Monday.

The 138-foot-tall rocket carried three payloads, including the Huanjing craft and two secondary passengers, state media reported.

The launcher reached a polar orbit about 300 miles high, according to U.S. military tracking data. Xinhua declared the launch a success.

The Huanjing 1C satellite is fitted with a synthetic aperture radar instrument designed to peer through clouds and take images of Earth's surface day-and-night in all weather conditions.

It joins two Huanjing satellites with optical imagers launched in 2008.

The disaster-monitoring fleet provides data on floods, wildfires, drought, typhoons and landslides. Imagery from the Huanjing satellites are shared with other countries as part of an international framework for disaster response.

Huanjing means environment in English.

Two small technology demonstration payloads were also sent into orbit on Sunday's launch, which marked China's 16th space launch of 2012.

One of the satellites, named Xinyan 1, will test unspecified new space technologies. Another payload, Fengniao 1, consists of two microsatellites to prove formation-flying techniques (Space Flight Now, 2012).

Title: China Lands First Jet On Its Aircraft Carrier
November 25, 2012
Fox News

China has successfully landed a fighter jet on its first aircraft carrier, which entered service two months ago, the country's official news agency confirmed Sunday.

The Liaoning aircraft carrier underscores China's ambitions to be a leading Asian naval power, but it is not expected to carry a full complement of planes or be ready for combat for some time.

Xinhua News Agency said the landing exercise marked the debut of the J-15 fighter jet, a carrier-based fighter-bomber developed by China from Russia's Sukhoi Su-33.

The Defense Ministry's website carried photos of the jet taking off from and landing on the carrier.

Citing unnamed naval sources, Xinhua said that the carrier platform and J-15 capabilities met all requirements and achieved "good compatibility."

Xinhua says the J-15 is able to carry anti-ship, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and precision-guided bombs.

Since China's Liaoning ship formally entered into service on Sept. 25, its crew members have completed more than 100 training and test programs, Xinhua said.

China bought the former Soviet navy's unfinished carrier from Ukraine in 1998 and spent years refurbishing it (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Satellites Spot China’s Mysterious New Warplane
Date: January 4, 2013

Abstract: A week after the publication of blurry photographs depicting what appears to be China’s first long-range jet transport, Danger Room has obtained satellite imagery of the new plane at an airfield in central China.

The images, acquired by the GeoEye 1 and IKONOS spacecraft — both belonging to commercial satellite operator GeoEye headquartered in Washington, D.C. — corroborate the general layout of the Xian Aircraft Corporation Y-20, the existence of which has been confirmed by Beijing. They also underscore the emerging consensus among Western experts that the Y-20, while outwardly impressive, could lack the performance of even much older American, Russian and European transports.

The IKONOS image (below) is dated Dec. 25. It shows the Y-20 outside a large hangar at Yanliang airfield, home of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s test establishment. The base is crowded with examples of the PLAAF’s other main transports, including Y-8 medium airlifters and, apparently, tanker versions of the aged H-6 bomber — both types of which could in theory be replaced by the Y-20, ostensibly giving China the same global military reach the U.S. and other advanced nations have enjoyed for half a century.

The GeoEye 1 photo from Jan. 1 (above) depicts the new transport, which isn’t known to have flown yet, on one of Yanliang’s runways, surrounded by people and vehicles. News reports have claimed the Y-20 is currently undergoing runway taxi tests in preparation for its eventual first flight.

But even after that happens, the Y-20 will probably need lots of work. Indeed, when it comes to jet-transport technology Beijing is “falling behind, not catching up,” John Pike, an analyst with the Virginia-based, writes in an e-mail to Danger Room.

Specifically, the Y-20 needs new engines — and there’s little evidence that Beijing is making much progress on that front. The prototype is reportedly fitted with old, Russian-made D-30 engines that probably aren’t adequate for the Y-20′s design.

The new imagery is sharper, more detailed and shot from a higher angle than the grainy first photos of the Y-20 that appeared on Chinese internet forums in late December, providing a much more reliable basis for assessing the transport’s layout. Apparently slightly smaller than the U.S. Air Force’s workhorse C-17, the Y-20 sports the same wide swept wing and T-shaped tail as the Boeing-made C-17, blueprints of which China obtained several years ago through a spy working for the Chicago-based plane manufacturer.

“In order to get the kind of range/payload capabilities you need to use this type of plane, it all comes down to the engines,” Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with Virginia market forecaster The Teal Group, emails Danger Room. “Designing a large, high-bypass turbofan is even harder than designing a combat engine [for jet fighters],” Aboulafia adds. “China shows no signs of being able to do that.”

There are only four companies in the world capable of building the kind of engines the Y-20 needs, Aboulafia says: three — GE/CFM, Rolls Royce and Pratt & Whitney — are Western companies and one is Russian. Arms controls in the West make it unlikely that Beijing will be able to source the Y-20′s motors from the former firms.

“In short, there are three possible explanations,” Aboulafia continues. ”One, this is just a prototype, or series of prototypes. Two, it will be built in series production, using a domestically-built knockoff engine that will result in a very short-range plane with a light payload. Three, they’ll do a deal with the Russians to start importing engines that can turn this into a Chinese copy of a former Soviet transport design.”

But even a copy of an older Soviet transport would likely feature only modest performance compared to more modern, unique designs. Moreover, Russia has been reluctant lately to sell engines to China, justifiably fearing that Beijing’s engineers will illegally reverse-engineer the motors.

All of which means the Y-20, so far, is more show than substance — an intriguing subject for internet forums and passing satellites, but not yet a threat to the transportation dominance of the U.S., Russia and Europe (Wired, 2013).

Title: China's Drone Swarms Rise To Challenge US Power
Date: March 13, 2013
Tech News

Abstract: China is building one of the world's largest drone fleets aimed at expanding its military reach in the Pacific and swarming U.S. Navy carriers in the unlikely event of a war, according to a new report.

The Chinese military — known as the People's Liberation Army (PLA) — envisions its drone swarms scouting out battlefields, guiding missile strikes and overwhelming opponents through sheer numbers. China's military-industrial complex has created a wide array of homegrown drones to accomplish those goals over the past decade, according to the report released by the Project 2049 Institute on March 11.

"The PLA now fields one of the world's most expansive UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] fleets," said Ian Easton and L.C. Russell Hsiao, researchers at the Project 2049 Institute and authors of the new report.

U.S. military forces still operate the largest drone fleet, with at least 679 drones in 2012, according to data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported by the Guardian. But the new Project 2049 Institute report estimates that China had 280 military drones as of mid-2011 — a number that has likely grown since then.

Chinese military drones have already entered the frontlines of China's territorial disputes with neighboring countries such as Japan by flying maritime patrols over disputed areas. The Project 2049 Institute report warned that China could be tempted to use drones more aggressively without risking human lives, or even consider "plausibly deniable" drone attacks blamed upon mechanical failure or cyberhackers.

Chinese strategists have also discussed using swarms of drones to overwhelm the U.S. Navy's carrier groups in the unlikely possibility of a shooting war. The drones could act as decoys, use electronic warfare to jam communications and radar, guide missile strikes on carriers, fire missiles at U.S. Navy ships or dive into ships like kamikaze robots.

"In particular, numerous authoritative studies indicate a strong emphasis on developing UAVs for locating, tracking and targeting U.S. aircraft carriers in support of long range anti-ship cruise and ballistic missile strikes," the Project 2049 Institute report says.

All the main branches of the Chinese military field operational drone units. The new report identifies those military units along with major academic, industry and military organizations involved in building Chinese drones.

The report goes on to examine the state of Chinese drone technology. China is developing drones such as the rumored "Dark Sword" stealth drone that have low radar profiles to escape radar detection. It also wants to build "space" drones that could loiter at heights of 31 miles (50 kilometers) above the Earth to provide constant surveillance. (Scientists typically consider 62 miles (100 km) to mark the boundary for the edge of space.)

Chinese engineers have even begun working on drones that have the software brains to fly in formation, do aerial refueling and takeoff and land autonomously — capabilities that the U.S. military has also developed or begun testing for its own drones.

The risk of war between the U.S. and China remains low. But the report cautions that the U.S. military could prepare for the worst-case scenario by hardening its existing air bases in Asia and developing energy weapons (such as lasers) for better air and missile defense (Tech News, 2013).

Title: China Blasts US For Asia-Pacific Military Build-Up
Date: April 16, 2013

Abstract: With tensions high over North Korea, its ally releases defence white paper accusing Washington of stoking regional disputes

 China‘s defence ministry has made a thinly veiled attack on the US for increasing tensions in the Asia-Pacific by ramping up its military presence and alliances in the region, days after John Kerry, the US secretary of state, visited Beijing.

China is uneasy with what the US has called the “rebalancing” of forces as Washington winds down the war in Afghanistan and renews its attention in the Asia-Pacific.

China says the policy has emboldened Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in longstanding territorial disputes. China faced “multiple and complicated security threats” despite its growing influence, the ministry of defence said in its annual white paper, adding that the US strategy meant “profound changes” for the region.

“There are some countries which are strengthening their Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanding their military presence in the region and frequently make the situation there tenser,” the ministry said in the 40-page document, in a clear reference to the US.

Such moves “do not accord with the developments of the times and are not conducive towards maintaining regional peace and stability”, ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told reporters.

The official People’s Liberation Army Daily went further, saying in a commentary on Monday that China needed to beef up its defences to deal with a hostile west bent on undermining it. “Hostile western forces have intensified their strategy to westernise and split China, and employed every possible means to contain and control our country’s development,” it said.

On Monday, Kerry defended the reorientation of US foreign policytowards Asia as he ended a trip to the region dominated by concerns about North Korea’s nuclear programme.

While China has been angered by North Korea’s behaviour, including staging its third nuclear test in February, it has also made clear it considers US displays of force in response to Pyongyang’s behaviour to be a worrisome development.

China is North Korea’s most important diplomatic and financial backer – the two fought together in the 1950-53 Korean war – although Yang would not be drawn on the subject aside from repeating a call for peace and dialogue.

China’s own military moves have worried the region, too. China unveiled another double-digit rise in military expenditure last month, to 740.6bn yuan (£77.8bn/$119bn) for 2013 and is involved in protracted and often ugly disputes over a series of islands in the East and South China Seas.

“On the issues concerning China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, some neighbouring countries are taking actions that complicate or exacerbate the situation, and Japan is making trouble over the Diaoyu Islands issue,” the white paper said.

The dispute with Japan over the uninhabited islands, which China calls Diaoyu and Japan calls Senkaku, has escalated in recent months to the point where China and Japan have sent fighter jets and patrol ships to shadow each other.

The waters around the islands in the East China Sea are rich fishing grounds and have potentially huge oil and gas reserves.

Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines also have conflicting claims with China in parts of the South China Sea. China lays claim to almost the whole of the sea, which is crisscrossed by crucial shipping lanes.

The US shift comes as China boosts military spending and builds submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles as part of its naval modernisation. It has also tested emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air.

China has repeatedly said the world has nothing to fear from its military spending, which it says is needed for legitimate defensive purposes in a complex and changing world, and that the sums spent pale in comparison with US defence expenditure (Guardian, 2013).

Title: China To Build Second, Larger Carrier: Report
Date: April 23, 2013

China will build a second, larger aircraft carrier capable of carrying more fighter jets, the official Xinhua news service reported late Tuesday, quoting a senior officer with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.

The report comes after Chinese officials denied foreign media reports in September 2012 that China was building a second carrier in Shanghai.

"China will have more than one aircraft carrier ... The next aircraft carrier we need will be larger and carry more fighters," Xinhua quoted Song Xue, deputy chief of staff of the PLA Navy, as saying at a ceremony with foreign military attaches.

Song said foreign media reports saying the carrier was being built in Shanghai were still inaccurate but did not elaborate, according to the report.

China currently has one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was refitted from a Russian-made model. Considered by military experts to be decades behind U.S. carrier technology, it was originally intended to serve as a floating casino, but was turned to military use in the runup to a once-in-a-decade power transition in late 2012.

China is also building up other forms of military hardware, including a stealth fighter jet believed to be capable of landing on a carrier, drone aircraft and nuclear submarines.

China is alone among the original nuclear weapons states to be expanding its nuclear forces, according to a report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Song also said the PLA Navy is building a naval aviation force for the Liaoning, and there will be at least two aviation regiments on one carrier, including fighters, reconnaissance aircraft, anti-submarine aircraft, electronic countermeasure (ECM) planes and rotary-wing aircraft, the report said.

Chinese officials have said the Liaoning will be used primarily for training purposes (Reuters, 2013).

Title: China's Navy Says It Plans For More Aircraft Carriers That Will Be Larger Than The Current One
Date: April 24, 2013
Fox News

Abstract:  A top navy commander says China plans to operate more aircraft carriers in the future that will be even larger and carry more aircraft than the initial one launched last year.

The comments from deputy navy chief Song Xue reported Wednesday by the official Xinhua News Agency marked the clearest indication yet that China plans to expand its carrier program. Song didn't give a specific number, saying only, "We won't have just one."

China spent a decade refurbishing a derelict Soviet-era carrier bought from Ukraine before commissioning it as the Liaoning last year. The carrier is part of a major expansion of the Chinese navy that is equipping it with sophisticated new surface ships and submarines, prompting China's neighbors to upgrade and enlarge their own navies (Fox News, 2013).

Title: China Conducts Test Of New Anti-Satellite Missile
Date: May 14, 2013
Free Beacon

Abstract: China’s military on Monday conducted the first test of a new ground-launched anti-satellite missile that was fired into space and disguised as a space-exploration rocket, according to U.S. officials.

The test was carried out early Monday from the Xichang Space Launch center and was identified by officials as the new Dong Ning-2 ASAT missile.

The ASAT test comes a week after China protested the release of the Pentagon’s annual report on the Chinese military buildup that mentioned Beijing’s development of anti-satellite weapons.

The Free Beacon first disclosed the existence of the new missile in October and a missile researcher reported in January that a new ASAT missile was being readied for its first test.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was asked if China conducted an ASAT test during a briefing for reporters in Beijing on Tuesday. He did not deny that it was carried out.

“I am not aware of the development that you described,” he said. “China has consistently advocated the peaceful use of outer space and is opposed to militarizing and conducting an arms race in outer space.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Cathy Wilkinson said: “We don’t have a comment on it as we don’t discuss intelligence.”

A U.S. official familiar with intelligence reports said the DN-2, as a high earth-orbit attack missile, is a significant advance for China’s program of developing asymmetric warfare capabilities for use against the United States. Others include cyber-warfare capabilities and anti-ship ballistic missiles.

It could not be learned if the latest ASAT test involved an impact with a target satellite.

A second official said the Chinese apparently disguised the ASAT missile test as a space exploration experiment. The website of the National Space Science Center, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reported Monday that a sounding rocket was used in a high-altitude scientific exploration test.

“This experiment used a high-altitude space-exploring rocket, Langmuir probe, high-energetic particle detectors, magnetometers and barium-powder release experimental apparatus and other payload of scientific exploration to test and measure the ionosphere, the high-energy particles and magnetic fields of the near-Earth space strength and structure,” the notice said.

China in 2007 conducted its first successful hit-to-kill ASAT test against a weather satellite in low-earth orbit. The impact left tens of thousands of pieces of debris in orbit that continue to threaten both manned and unmanned spacecraft.

Defense officials have said China’s ASAT weapons, including missile interceptors, lasers, and electronic jammers, are designed to disrupt satellite communications and navigation systems used extensively by the U.S. military in conducting joint warfare.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated in written answers to questions during his confirmation hearing in January that the United States would seek to avoid engaging in hostilities in space.

However, Hagel revealed that U.S. space policy calls for “the secretary of defense to develop capabilities, plans and options to deter, defend against, and, if necessary, defeat efforts to interfere with or attack U.S. or allied space systems.”

The statement was the clearest indication that the Pentagon is preparing to develop “counterspace” weapons in response to Chinese anti-satellite weapons.

“The chances are good this is indeed an ASAT test as it was launched from the Xichang Space Launch Center, the same launch site used for the January 2007 successful SC-19 ASAT interception of a Chinese weather satellite,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. Xichang is located in southern Sichuan Province.

Fisher said Chinese Internet reports stated that the ASAT test of what U.S. official say was a DN-2 may have up to four stages and included one or two liquid-fueled upper stages to provide greater thrust as the missile closed in on a target.

“While there so far has been no report of a successful interception, even a very near miss would serve to validate this new [People’s Liberation Army] ASAT system,” Fisher said.

A validated DN-2 ASAT system would provide the Chinese military with the capability to “degrade or severely damage the U.S. Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system,” he said.

“This is not merely a threat against some American military satellites, but a threat to a what has become a vital part of the global electronic infrastructure, affecting global commerce and financial flows, to your personal finances that contribute to personal freedom.”

Fisher said China has been “preaching” that other states should disarm while Beijing secretly builds space weaponry at the same time it has denied being engaged in the space arms buildup.

“In the face of such a threat, the United States simply has no choice but to pursue symmetric capabilities to deter Chinese attacks in space, but also to consider its own requirements for space superiority,” he said.

The major concern for Pentagon war planners is that China, with an arsenal of around two dozen anti-satellite missiles, could severely disrupt U.S. command-and-control systems, intelligence-gathering satellites, and navigation satellites used to guide precision guided missiles.

Security analyst Gregory Kulacki said in an online posting in January that the ASAT test was expected as early as that month.

“Given these high-level administration concerns and past Chinese practice, there seems to be a strong possibility China will conduct an ASAT test within the next few weeks,” Kulacki, a Chinese-language speaker with the Union of Concerned Scientists stated.

Defense officials disclosed to the Free Beacon that the DN-2 test was initially planned for last fall, but was delayed by the Chinese over concerns that the test would upset President Barack Obama’s reelection bid.

While details of the DN-2 are not known, U.S. officials said it is expected to be a high earth-orbit interceptor capable of destroying strategic navigation, communication, or intelligence satellites by ramming into them at high speeds.

The DN-2 is said to be capable of hitting targets in high-earth orbit between 12,000 and 22,236 miles above earth. Many military, intelligence, and commercial satellites orbit at that altitude.

A Pentagon-State Department report to Congress last year on export controls stated that in addition to ground-launched ASAT missiles, China is building high-technology kinetic and direct energy weapons for ASAT use (Free Beacon, 2013).

Title: Chinese Navy Seaplane Crashes Off Eastern Port City
Date: May 30, 2013
Fox News

Abstract:  China's Defense Ministry says a navy seaplane has crashed into waters near the eastern port city of Qingdao.

A notice posted on the ministry's website said the plane went down in Jiaozhou Bay on Thursday morning while conducting a training mission. It said a search and rescue mission was launched by the navy, but gave no word on casualties.

Reports of crashes and other military mishaps had been relatively rare in the past but the traditionally secretive People's Liberation Army has been making greater efforts at transparency as it seeks to transition into a modern military.

The North Sea Fleet operates four Shuihong 5 seaplanes dating from the 1980s and used primarily for low-altitude maritime patrol and surveillance missions. Each carries five crew members (Fox News, 2013).

Title: China, India, Pakistan Boost Nuclear Arsenals: Study
Date: June 3, 2013
France 24

Abstract: Three of the world's nuclear powers -- China, India and Pakistan -- have increased their arsenals over the past year, while the other five have cut their strength or kept it stable, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said Monday.

China now has 250 nuclear warheads against 240 in 2012, while Pakistan has increased its warheads by about 10 to between 100 and 120 and India has also added roughly 10 for a total of 90 to 110, SIPRI said in its annual report.

According to SIPRI, the arms race is all the more disturbing because of what the institute called a "fragile" peace in Asia, characterised by growing tensions since 2008 between India and Pakistan, China and Japan, and the two Koreas, among others.

"While states have avoided direct conflict with each other and have stopped supporting insurgent movements on each other's territory, decades-old suspicions linger and economic integration has not been followed up with political integration," SIPRI said.

Only the two old superpowers have cut their warheads, Russia reducing its number from 10,000 to 8,500, and the United States scaling back from 8,000 to 7,700.

The warheads controlled by France stayed at 300, while Britain's remained at 225, and Israel's at 80.

SIPRI acknowledged that the figures were to a large extent estimates, as the nuclear powers aren't equally transparent, China being totally opaque, and Russia gradually becoming less open.

SIPRI does not count North Korea and Iran as nuclear powers yet, as their respective programmes are still considered in their early stages.

While the global total of warheads was down, SIPRI said it did not translate into a significantly diminished nuclear threat.

"Once again there was little to inspire hope that the nuclear weapon-possessing states are genuinely willing to give up their nuclear arsenals. The long-term modernisation programmes under way in these states suggest that nuclear weapons are still a marker of international status and power," said SIPRI Senior Researcher Shannon Kile.

Efforts to reduce arsenals of chemical and biological weapons have also been slow, according to SIPRI, a long-time advocate of abolishing weapons of mass destruction.

The United States and Russia have not destroyed all their chemical weapons in 2012 as promised, and Syria has said it is prepared to use them in the case of foreign attack.

SIPRI figures also show that the number of peacekeepers deployed around the world fell by more than 10 percent in 2012, reflecting partly the beginning withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan.

SIPRI noted an increase in recent years in the number of intrastate conflicts that are internationalised, as outside states have supported one side or another.

"Such involvement often has the effect of increasing casualty rates and prolonging conflicts," SIPRI said in its report.

SIPRI's annual report also contains data already published, including figures showing a decline in global arms spending in 2012 of 0.5 percent, the first drop since 1998.

The report also said China has overtaken Britain as the world's fifth largest arms exporter after the United States, Russia, Germany and France (France 24, 2013).