Author: Ralph Jennings
Posted on: Forbes | January 10th, 2018
Last year was big for Chinese military advances and 2018 should follow, with more proceeds from an elite group of state-owned equipment builders. In 2017, units of the fast growing, world No. 3 armed forces acquired J-20 fighter jets made by state-run Chengdu Aerospace Corp. and christened an aircraft carrier made by the government’s Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co. Chinese President Xi Jinping is moving towards stronger military command to enable more long-range movement far offshore.
The hardware points as well to increased technological sophistication and spending power of China’s state-owned defense contractors.
In that spirit, according to published reports and analyst forecasts, this year China’s major defense contractors will move forward this year on the following homemade military equipment with specs equal to overseas peers.
A government remote sensing institute in the southern province of Hainan intends to launch 10 satellites over the nearby seas from 2019 to 2021, the official Xinhua News Agency reported in December. Two will be able to analyze each pixel in an image to find objects or detect processes. Others can compose three-dimensional images of landscapes. These tools could effectively monitor what other countries are doing on many of the South China Sea’s 500 tiny islets and surrounding waters.
“If China is collecting data they don’t have to share with other countries, then that’s a strategic advantage,” says Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.
Xinhua doesn’t mention who will make the satellites, but per tradition the 11-year-old exclusive domestic operatorChina DBSat will probably get a sizable part in managing them.
Another aircraft carrier
After China rolled out its first homemade carrier in April, state-owned Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard Group is due to make another this year, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reports. The group founded in 1865 is under the China State Shipbuilding Corp., a profitable, growing state firm with revenue of more than $3 billion in 2016.
The carrier involves technicians from the major port cities Shanghai and Dalian, the report says. Their vessel would be able to displace about 80,000 tons, more than China’s earliest carrier, the Russian-made Liaoning.
Guided missile destroyer
China will begin to use this year a 10,000-ton guided missile destroyer, anticipates Collin Koh, maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The $750 million, 180-meter-long vesselappeared last year in Shanghai, orchestrated again by China State Shipbuilding Corp. per this report. It cost less than American-made Arleigh Burke Flight IIA ships and can to displace slightly more weight. The Chinese destroyers “would be swiftly integrated into evolving (Chinese) carrier strategy,” Koh says, meaning that “not long after its commissioning, the ship would start to appear in the training exercises we see taking place often in the Western Pacific open seas, and in the South China Sea.”
Shipyards in Dalian and Shanghai are building the new model, dubbed the 055, military intelligence website Southfront.org says. China State Shipbuilding Corp. is heading this project too, Koh believes.
A U.S. intelligence official and military analysts in Asia predicted eight years ago that in 2018 China would come out with fighters close in capability to the U.S. Air Force’s F-22s made by Lockheed Martin. China’s planes aren’t in the sky yet, but its J-20s released last year already stack up, analysts said then. Early reports don’t suggest what company would make the plane, but the J-20 manufacturer’s parent company Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) would be hard to un-list as a candidate. The firm has a portfolio of military aircraft, including trainers, helicopters, drones and other fighters. AVIC, also state-owned, oversaw more than 1,900 subsidiaries in 2014 and earned net profit that year of $2.2 billion on revenue of $59.3 billion, the government’s National Audit Office says.