Will Beijing build them?
The PLA has developed a dizzying array of cruise missiles designed for land, air, surface, and sub-surface launch. And to be sure, the PLAN has already begun to equip its nuclear attack submarines with cruise missile capabilities. The Type 093B may carry a 24 cell Vertical Launch System (VLS), and the Type 095 is also expected to sport VLS cells. China should continue production of these vessels, but may also consider the construction of larger submarines in the future.
What weapons should China be developing and building right now?
There’s an inherent tension between defense procurement and innovation. On the one hand, the Chinese military needs platforms now in order to fulfill the increasing scope of its responsibilities. On the other hand, funds committed to production and operations don’t go into innovation, or to the integration of new weapon systems.
With this trade-off in mind, this article takes a look at five kinds of weapon that China can develop in the short, medium, and long terms. China needs systems to secure its borders, ensure the defense of its trade routes, and potentially challenge the United States in the Western Pacific. The list concentrates on systems that enable these missions, with a focus on weapons that other countries either already have or are developing.
Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carriers:
Chinese naval aviation has developed in impressive fashion since the commissioning of the Liaoning (CV-16). The PLAN has done good work with the J-15 navalized Flanker, as well as several support aircraft. In the short-to-medium term, we can expect China to press forward with the construction of conventionally powered carriers currently on the slips (reportedly a pair of Type 089 conventional carriers, although accounts vary). These ships will give the PLAN a real, operational naval aviation capability, and will provide the service with additional experience in carrier operations.
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