People's Liberation Army Navy Aims for 500 Ship Fleet
China's more bellicose diplomacy and apparent readiness to war on the United States is because it because "it now has a military capable of delivering radical change in the region," said a 186 year-old British think tank.
In a new report, the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI) said the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has a clear path ahead of it despite China's mounting economic problems. In particular, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) apparently has a goal of fielding 500 warships, including aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, amphibious ships, frigates and destroyers.
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RUSI said the growth of PLAN "has been rapid: indeed it is hard to recall growth at a similar pace in any navy across history."
It said that under Admiral Wu Shengli, the PLAN commander who retired this January, PLAN's growth "has been phenomenal."
"Not only have ship, submarine and aircraft numbers increased rapidly, but so too have the breadth of operations they have been involved in, from evacuation operations in Libya to counter-piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean."
Wu's successor, Admiral Shen Jinlong, now faces a problem far different from increasing the number of warships. Shen now has to contend with the weakest link in the PLAN combat chain: its ill-motivated and hastily trained personnel largely incapable of individual initiative.
These manpower defects spring from the PLA's organizational system "that relies on conformity of people and thinking."
Despite this intractable defect, PLAN remains set on attaining what the report termed as "phase two" of the plan of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to gain dominance in the Pacific Ocean.
Permanent military bases in the South China Sea and the full deployment of the BeiDou satellite navigation system will give the PLA a competitive edge in the South China Sea and East China Sea against its greatest enemy, the U.S. Navy.