In this Oct. 19, 2012, photo, Chinese navy vessels take part in a drill in the waters off Zhoushan in east China’s Zhejiang province.
/ November 14, 2021
By the end of the decade, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), already the world’s largest navy, will boast an arsenal of 460 warships, according to the Pentagon’s latest annual report on Chinese military power.
The communist nation’s rapid naval buildup will go a long way toward its goal of total control in the South China Sea and East China Sea, according to analysts who reviewed the report including security correspondent Bill Gertz.
The PLAN is engaged in large-scale production of missile-firing corvettes, with 70 of the ships set to be built. Those vessels complement the force’s 60 high-speed, missile-firing catamarans.
Construction of eight Renhai-class missile cruisers began last year with the first new cruiser entering service. Each Renhai warship comes with 113 missile launch tubes capable of firing anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes and anti-submarine weapons, as well as land-attack and anti-ship ballistic missiles.
Newer warships are armed with 215 nautical-mile-range YJ-62 anti-ship missiles, and the newest missile, the 250 nautical-mile-range YJ-18A, the report said. Several modernized destroyers are outfitted with supersonic YJ-12A anti-ship missiles that have a range of 290 nautical miles.
The long-range missiles will allow the Chinese navy to threaten U.S. warships at greater distances and are likely built in anticipation of a U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan, Gertz wrote for the Washington Times.
“The addition of land-attack capabilities to the PLAN‘s surface combatants and submarines would provide the PLA with flexible long-range strike options. This would allow the PRC to hold land targets at risk beyond the Indo-Pacific region from the maritime domain,” the Pentagon report said.
Currently, the PLAN has 355 naval platforms, including major surface ships, submarines, aircraft carriers, amphibious warships, and mine warfare craft.
The U.S. Navy currently has 296 warships, including 11 aircraft carriers capable of projecting power at long distances.
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